John 6.16-21

At nightfall his disciples went down to the sea, got into their boat, and pushed off to cross the water to Capernaum. Darkness had already fallen, and Jesus had not yet joined them. By now a strong wind was blowing and the sea grew rough.

When they had rowed about three or four miles they saw Jesus walking on the sea and approaching the boat. They were terrified, but he called out, “It is I, do not be afraid.” Then they were ready to take him aboard, and immediately the boat reached the land they were making for.

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6 responses

  1. When I read stuff like this I find myself interested in the author's motivations and how to explain (his?) motivations within his historical context. Why would someone write something that is clearly factually untrue but which also clearly had spiritual significance to that community of believers? But there's also the question of what it means to us and that, I find, is a much harder question for me to answer.

  2. Hi, Hystery!Within the author's historical context, I doubt he'd consider this story "clearly factually untrue." He of course knows that people do not normally come "walking on the sea;" but he and Mark have heard from some source that Jesus did exactly that. I expect that one reason he put the story in was that he believed it actually happened.Another reason would have been that he considered the story a "sign" that his beliefs about Jesus and his role in the scheme of things were correct.If there's any "utility" to the story, in terms of it supporting some particular policy or doctrine on "John"'s agenda, it doesn't seem very specific.What it means to me… like other stories of yogis etc performing miraculous feats, it helps me expand my expectations of God's potential acts. I don't expect to stand up on my bathwater anytime soon, but I'm open to the possibility of being very much surprised, in ways that would make more difference.

  3. Forrest,Oh my goodness! Thank you for that corrective comment. Of course, that is a pretty excellent point that the Johannine author most certainly would not have considered this story "clearly factually untrue." My own world view cannot be the foundation for interpretation. There's so much we don't know about the ways these stories come to us and so much we don't know about the communities that shared and treasured them. It is easy to get arrogant about what I do know and forget how much I don't.I like the idea that such stories open you to the possibility of "being very much surprised." At this time of year, I find that the story of the birth of the Christ child does the same for me. I do not believe that the event happened as it is written but I do not find that this matters to me nor does it change the Truth of the story. I believe it anyway- at least I believe that a child of Light born in absolute poverty can take on an Empire. This keeps me looking for Light where I should not expect to find it.

  4. To believe, to believe "in", that is to "belove."The Christmas stori(es!) are not credible to me either, too contradictory, too concerned to invent ways of placing Baby Jesus at Bethlehem rather than at Nazareth, to satisfy people's ideas of where the Messiah "must" have been born.But that yearly hope, that this time we may see the world's salvation born, that God's sleight of hand will work a greater miracle than we've seen yet… Did you like (see) my poem on the quakerquaker blog?Your "child born to take on an Empire" is currently hiding in Egypt, pretending to be enslaved in each human being… and I hope, still intending to amaze us all!

  5. Love you guys. Just an additional note on the possible meaning of the name Capernaum, a village of Nahum, village of consolation, shelter of comfort, covering of compassion. (Cx-ref with Math 11:23, which may have to do with sympathy). Nahum, as a prophet, brought out that the Holy Spirit is also comforter and healer. Source: Metaphysical Bible Dictionary (Charles Fillmore Series). Gives food for thought, metaphorically.

  6. Wherever you are, even at sea in rising winds and seas, Christ is there with you.

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