E. Evidence of water walking (Jn 6:16-21):
This miracle was for the disciples, for the people saw the disciples enter the boat, but not Jesus (Jn 6:22). Everything happened at sea in the darkness of the night, just as Jesus had planned. The situation was set up by Jesus, for He commanded the disciples to get into the boat and make their way to the other side of the sea (Mt 14:22). He then sent the multitudes away from the scene (Mt 14:23). It was then that He went up a mountain in order to pray and wait for the opportune time to come to the disciples in the night. Jesus waited until the storm at sea had prepared them emotionally for what He was about to do. So when the storm at sea had battered both occupants and boat for some time, Jesus “went to them, walking on the sea” (Mt 14:25).
Of course such a happening would terrify the disciples, which thing it did (Jn 6:19). John does not, as did Matthew, go into great detail concerning what transpired. John’s purpose for recording this incident was to generate faith in the minds of his readers by bringing his readers to the point of confession that Jesus is the Son of God. So the conclusion to which John drew his readers was the control over the natural world that was within the power of Jesus as the Son of God.
When this miracle first occurred, the apostles were the only witnesses. The multitudes were left to question how Jesus made His way to where the boat eventually landed (Jn 6:22-24). Only when John recorded this event, or when the apostles spoke of it after the Pentecost of A.D. 30, did the people, and ourselves, conclude that Jesus in the flesh had power over the elements of this world (See At 27:21-26). As Jonah perceived that the storm at sea was the work of God to turn his way back to Nineveh, so this storm at sea was for the purpose of revealing to the apostles that if they followed Jesus, they would not be cast into the depths of the sea. They must remember that the One they followed had command of the laws of nature.
John left out the incident when Jesus called Peter to come to Him while He was standing above the waters in a raging storm. Matthew included the conclusion to which John sought to bring us to confess after reading such a testimony. When the storm was quieted, and the sea as smooth as glass that reflected the heavenly bodies, the disciples worshiped Him right there in the boat. They correctly concluded, “Truly, You are the Son of God” (Mt 14:33).
Jesus was finally getting through to them. Mark recorded the reaction of the disciples at the moment, “And they were greatly astonished, for they had not understood the miracle of the loaves because their heart was hardened” (Mk 6:51,52). After the feeding of the multitudes, the twelve disciples had just experienced something that was surreal. They were still trying to comprehend the twelve baskets of fragments. What had happened had not yet “sunk in.” The walking on the water that followed immediately after the feeding of the 5,000 intensified the impact of what Jesus wanted to do in transforming their thinking concerning who He was. It was not that their hearts were hardened against Him, but that the awesome result of the feeding of the 5,000, and the walking on the water, was almost too much for the human mind to comprehend in such a short time.
Therefore, when Jesus came up into the boat, they fell to their knees and worshiped Him, which worship is to be given only to God.
It would have been blasphemy for these Jews to worship any man on earth. It would have been a violation of the first of the ten commandants: “You will have no other gods before Me. You will not bow down yourself to them …” (Ex 20:3-5). But here in this boat in the calm of a sea, twelve Jewish men are bowing down to Jesus. What they came to realize on those calm waters in the middle of the night, was what John wants us to conclude and do in reference to this Jesus of Nazareth. He is truly the Son of the living God. He is One before whom we must bow down and worship.