Walking on the Water of Life (Mark 6)

Few of Jesus’ miracles, attested in all four canonical Gospels, is as astounding as his walking on the water (e.g. Mark 6:45–52). Like his turning a large amount of water into wine, this nature miracle defies human explanation. Not that unbelievers have not tried to account for the event by supplying some naturalistic explanation. Just recently, for example, someone suggested that Jesus was simply skipping from rock to rock, hidden just barely beneath the surface of the water. This may get first prize for imaginativeness, but it is so transparent an attempt to explain the unexplainable that is instantaneously self-defeating and tells us more about the unbelief of the person proposing the “solution” than about what most likely happened.

Ever since the so-called period of the “Enlightenment,” Deists and other anti-supernaturalists have sought to devise mere cause-and-effect scenarios that drained the miraculous from Scripture. One of them was one of the founding fathers of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, who set forth the “principles of a pure deism” supposedly taught by Jesus, “omitting the question of his deity.” The Jefferson Bible, not published until 1895 by Jefferson’s grandson, begins with an account of Jesus’ birth omitting all mention of angels, prophecy, miracles, the Trinity, or the deity of Jesus. The account concludes with the words, “Now, in the place where he was crucified, there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus. And rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.” End of story! No resurrection.

How different is this from the eyewitness accounts concerning Jesus included in Scripture! It is highly unlikely that anyone would have fabricated the kind of story where Jesus walked on the water, plus told Peter to come out of the boat to walk on the water toward him, unless he actually remembered this event. Walking on the water, in turn, would clearly have invoked the memory of Scripture, according to which God “alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea” (Job 9:8). Upon seeing Jesus, his followers were so startled they thought he was a ghost and screamed. Afterward, as Mark tell us, “[t]hey were completely astounded,” and “their hearts were hardened” (Mark 6:51–52). Yet when Jesus breathes his last, the Roman centurion at the cross cries out, “This man really was God’s Son!” (Mark 15:29).

“What kind of man is this?—even the winds and the sea obey him!” (Matt 8:27).

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