Navigating Rough Waters


John 6:16-27

When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing.

When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”

Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land toward which they were going.

The next day the crowd that had stayed on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there. They also saw that Jesus had not got into the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Then some boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.

When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.”


Scripture Focus (verse 21)

“then they wanted to take him into the boat”. . . NRSV
“they were willing to take him into the boat”. . .  NIV

Navigating Rough Waters 

Sometimes it’s challenging to ask, “What doesn’t the text say?  These verses are silent on whether or not Jesus actually got into the boat.
At least two of these rookie followers of Jesus knew more about sailing or rowing a boat than Jesus ever would.  Jesus knew this.
He also knew he wasn’t needed to personally sail or row the boat.  And the others, they were required to cooperate with the ones who had the skills.  They did not say to Jesus, “put the oar deeper in the water” or “pull on the other sail cord.”  Jesus was present in spirit, but he looked like a ghost to them and they were afraid; perhaps because they did not yet know how much he loved them.
Jesus still says to us, “It is I, do not be afraid.”  Whether your “boat” is the church or something else, you can trust Jesus’ teaching.
Sometimes “we’re all in the same boat” as they say.  When we are in a crisis mode, it’s a good idea to let those with the particular skills and gifts, which are needful in the present situation, lead. Jesus doesn’t need to DO anything that we can do for ourselves.  And we can do it ourselves because we know Jesus is present and we are not afraid.  And, by the way, your turn to lead will come soon enough.
As their experiences with Jesus increased in number and in understanding, the proven disciples surely realized that Jesus lived his life going against the wind.


Great God, we thank you for sending your son, Jesus Christ to be our bridge over troubled waters.  May we, as the body of Christ, the Church, share your compassion with all. Amen


Sheila Fitts is a retired ordained Deacon, doing interim ministry in the Quad Cities.