John 6:16-20
John 6:16 (KJB)
And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea,
Even - Evening - From sunset to about 9:00 PM
At this point the disciples had gone down to the Sea of Galilee and it was probably late evening on the edge of night when they had arrived at the sea. Jesus had stayed behind so that He would-be able to make sure the multitude had dispersed and went their way after the feeding of the 5,000.
John 6:17 (KJB)
And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them.
Going from Bethsaida to Capernaum would have been a short trip but nevertheless it was going to be another lesson the disciples would learn about Jesus. Notice the Scripture tells us that it is dark. Whenever Jesus is not present there will always be darkness. Those in religions that reject the Lord Jesus Christ will remain in darkness. Notice that it is Jesus who comes to them and not the other way around. (Ezek 34:11 KJV) For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. The Lord states in Ezekiel 34:20 a mighty spiritual principle that He is the one who will search out and seek His sheep. (Rom 3:11 KJV) There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. Romans 3:11 states that no one seeks after God and therefore God is the one who will seek out His sheep for salvation. The name “Capernaum” means “city of comfort” or “field of repentance.” As the disciples were in the dark, there was no way they could know where to find comfort or repentance, both of which are tenets of true salvation through Christ.
John 6:18 (KJB)
And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew.
Arose - Wake up thoroughly, was rough, excite, or stir up
It is interesting that the word “arose” speaks about the sea waking up. There are weather occurrences which normally happen, even over these small lakes in remote areas. However, this occurrence seems to be timed too well for coincidence. As soon as they entered the ship and left port, the sea began to stir up. The disciples were experienced fishermen but this storm seemed to be especially violent. Since this was another teaching situation for the disciples and us, Jesus was probably the one who commanded the sea to begin to be stirred up, just as commanded the waters to be peaceful. Just as He knew what He was going to do concerning the feeding of the 5,000, He also knew what He was going to shortly do with His disciples.
John 6:19 (KJB)
So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.
Rowed - Driving, urging, or impelling - It denotes driving like one is driving off stolen horses
Furlongs - About 1/8 of a mile (660 feet - 220 meters)
Afraid - Fearful, terrified, or frightened
The disciples would have been out in the water between 3 - 4 miles. The word “rowed” carries with it the idea that they were rowing vehemently trying to manage the ship in the storm so there would be no loss of life or ship. According to Mark, the time was about 3-4 AM. So they would have been on the water in the darkest time of the night. In the midst of this raging storm, they had seen Jesus walking on the water and they were afraid. Now the word “afraid” carries with it the idea of being terrified. They were not so much as fearful of the storm because it is something which they were used to, all of their lives being fisherman. However, in the midst of that storm, they see Jesus walking on the water heading toward them. According to Mark’s account, they thought that it was a spirit heading toward them. This verse contains a great spiritual lesson in that we see the sea which became so very rough which can happen to any believer as we face rough times which seem to throw us back and forth, just like a ship on the water. As Christians we can always count on Jesus coming to us and walking on the water, which is like saying, that Jesus is above our circumstances and will never allow us to sink. The Christian can live above their circumstances because they are in Christ and therefore we never have to worry about being tossed around like a ship on the sea or being drowned in our circumstances. Christ comes to us in the midst of the storm.
John 6:20 (KJB)
But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid.
Jesus then comforted His disciples by confirming that it was Him and that they should not be afraid. John is giving us an insight that Jesus is the Creator and that He is not bound by natural laws. Now the other accounts reveal that Peter came to the Lord walking on the water but John’s gospel keeps the focus upon the Lord Jesus Christ and His deity. This is what the whole essence of the Gospel of John is all about and the other three gospels, show much more personal interaction between Jesus and His disciples.