Tuesday, November 12, 2013

In the Boat

John tells the story of a great storm that tossed the tiny boat the disciples were in. He talks about this Jesus, who came walking to them across the water. And then he tells us the part of the story we too often miss; I know I missed it for the longest time. Let's go into John 6:

When evening came, his disciples went to the sea. They got into a boat and started to cross the sea to the city of Capernaum. By this time it was dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. A strong wind started to blow and stir up the sea. After they had rowed three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea. He was coming near the boat, and they became terrified. Jesus told them, "It's me. Don't be afraid!" So they were willing to help Jesus into the boat. Immediately, the boat reached the shore where they were going.

There are a couple of things that strike me about John's telling of this story. The first is the next-to-last-sentence, where it says "So they were willing to help Jesus into the boat." This seems to imply that if anyone else had been walking across the water, they might not have let him into their boat. A storm is brewing, so the hospitable thing to do would be to let a man without a boat into yours. They're three or four miles from shore, so the incredible thing to do would be to think there must be something special about anyone who is hanging out on the water that far away. Don't you think if this were you, if you were in the middle of a dark, storm-tossed sea, and someone was coming to you against the waves on the water, don't you think you wouldn't stop to assess whether this was a guy you knew or a guy you didn't know, whether it was worth the risk to let a stranger on board? Don't you think, in such miraculous circumstances, you'd just let the guy in?

But the other thing that strikes me, more profoundly, is that Jesus needed help into the boat. Or at the very least, He permitted it.

Here is the Son of God, defying the wind and the waves to come to His disciples in the middle of the sea. Here is the Son of Man, walking on water to get to them. Obviously, He can do anything He pleases to do...but He can't get into the boat by Himself?

This is what I love about Jesus. He was never so much God that He forgot that He was human. This is one of those beautiful moments where, in the middle of what is purely a supernatural, divine manifestation of Himself, He steps fully back into the flesh. "Help Me up, boys," He says to the disciples, and then reaches out for them to take His hand. And it's not for their sake that He does this; their hands were probably plenty busy with the whipping winds. He does this because He was created in the flesh, and He's honoring that piece of His creation.

I love that. That's what I want to do. I don't want to be so wrapped up in my strengths that I forsake my weaknesses. I don't want to be so capable, so competent, so full of myself that I can't reach out and let someone take my hand for the next little step of the journey. I don't want to believe that just because I can do what sometimes seems impossible, that I can do everything...because I wasn't created for everything. I was created for some things. I want to remember that, and I want to honor that part of me.

I want to honor the part of me that can walk on the water and still need some help climbing into the boat. Because God created that, too.

I feel closer to God thinking He would let me help Him into the boat. I feel closer thinking I would let Him help me. There's something about the quiet humility of that that just makes it seem so beautiful.


  1. I really needed to read this today. What a beautiful piece.

    1. Thanks, Melissa. Sometimes, it's just being reminded what human means...