Harmony of the Gospels

Tom Lowe

 Harmony of the Gospels

-Spring, AD 29-

Sea of Galilee
(37) Walks on the Water
Matthew 14:22-33, Mark 6:45-52, John 6:15-21



22 Immediately Jesus told his followers to get into the boat and go ahead of him across the lake. He stayed there to send the people home.
23 After he had sent them away, he went by himself up into the hills to pray. It was late, and Jesus was there alone.
24 By this time, the boat was already far away from land. It was being hit by waves, because the wind was blowing against it.
25 Between three and six o’clock in the morning, Jesus came to them, walking on the water.
26 When his followers saw him walking on the water, they were afraid. They said, “It’s a ghost!” and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus quickly spoke to them, “Have courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.”
28 Peter said, “Lord, if it is really you, then command me to come to you on the water.”
29 Jesus said, “Come.” And Peter left the boat and walked on the water to Jesus.
30 But when Peter saw the wind and the waves, he became afraid and began to sink. He shouted, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught Peter. Jesus said, “Your faith is small. Why did you doubt?”
32 After they got into the boat, the wind became calm.
33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped Jesus and said, “Truly you are the Son of God!” (NCV)

After the five thousand had been fed, Jesus sent His disciples away, aboard a rented ship, to the other side of the lake.  Then He dismissed the crowd and went up into a mountain to pray.  In the Gospel of John, we are told why He so hastily broke up the crowd, “Jesus knew that the people planned to come and take Him by force and make Him their king, so He left and went into the hills alone.” (Jn. 6:15)  He sent the disciples away, because He knew that the people would not leave as long as they were around.  The disciples didn’t want to leave without Him, but they left out of pure obedience.  He was alone then, which was His intention, and He prayed to The Father.  He was there for a long time, because it was not until the following morning, the forth watch of the night, that He was seen by the disciples.  When night had fallen and the ship was about three miles out on the Sea of Galilee, they encountered a sudden storm.  It was during the forth watch; sometime between three o’clock to six o’clock A.M., and they saw Jesus walking to them; walking on the water.  He had seen their desperate condition, and He was concerned for them, like a father for his children.  He came to them, walking on the sea.  This is a great show of His power and sovereign control over all nature; the water is under His feet and at His command its very nature and qualities are changed.  The disciples were nearly exhausted from rowing all night, and when they saw Him they were afraid, because they thought they were seeing a ghost; but Jesus reassured them; He said, “It is I.”  He didn’t have to identify Himself, because they knew His voice.  And now, we can see Peter’s great affection for Christ; because he desired to go to Him.  When He sees Christ, whom, he no doubt wished would save them during the storm; he became impatient to be with Him.  He doesn’t say to Jesus, “Let me walk on the water,” as if he wanted to be part of a miracle; But he asks, “Let me come to you.”  He wants for Christ’s sake to go to Him, no matter how.  Here you can see Peter’s faith and resolve, because he stepped out on the water when Christ asked Him.  He left the safety of the ship, even willing to slip into the depths of the sea, which he had just a few minutes earlier dreaded.  He demonstrated a very strong dependence upon the power and word of God.  But now we see Peter’s cowardice and Christ reproving and then helping him.  Christ didn’t ask Peter to come to Him just so he could walk on water, it was because He knew that he could sink; then he would know Christ’s power and his own weakness, and his faith would be increased.  The cause of his fear was the wind and waves, which he didn’t see until he took his eyes off Christ.  When he kept his eyes on Christ, it was easy for him to walk on the water; but when he looked away and saw that he was in danger, he was afraid and he began to sink.  And he cried out, “Lord save me.” 

Please Listen to this.  Christ is the great Savior.  He came to save.  Those that want to be saved, must not only come to Him, but must ask Him for salvation.  But most people don’t come to Him until they are in a situation like this, where they find themselves sinking; a sense of need will drive us to Him. 

Jesus saved him; He saved him with the saving strength of His right hand.  Christ’s hand is still stretched out to all believers to keep them from sinking, “for they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of His hand.” (Jn. 10:28)  Never fear, He will hold on to His own.  Now notice that He scolded Peter for his lack of faith.  Peter had enough faith to bring him out on the water but not enough to carry him through.  Christ called his faith, “little.”  When Christ came into the ship, Peter came with Him, and very shortly they found themselves at the shore.  The storm had ceased, and the sea was peaceful. 

Please listen to this.  Welcome Christ, and the storms in your life will be quieted.  The way to know peace is to know that He is God; that He is the Lord with us.

They worshipped Him and said, “It is true, you are the Son of God.”  What they had seen was evidence for their faith.   They knew before, that He was the Son of God, but now they knew it better.  



45 Immediately Jesus told his followers to get into the boat and go ahead of him to Bethsaida across the lake. He stayed there to send the people home.
46 After sending them away, he went into the hills to pray.
47 That night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on the land.
48 He saw his followers struggling hard to row the boat, because the wind was blowing against them. Between three and six o’clock in the morning, Jesus came to them, walking on the water, and he wanted to walk past the boat.
49 But when they saw him walking on the water, they thought he was a ghost and cried out.
50 They all saw him and were afraid. But quickly Jesus spoke to them and said, “Have courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.”
51 Then he got into the boat with them, and the wind became calm. The followers were greatly amazed.
52 They did not understand about the miracle of the five loaves, because their minds were closed. (NCV)


Mark omits Peter walking on the water from his account. 

The disciples left in a boat, as Jesus commanded them to do, and they believed He would follow them by land.  The people however didn’t want to leave, because He had fed them, so they were ready for more.  It no doubt took Him some time to get them to go. 

He went up into a mountain to pray.  He prayed alone, often and for a long time.  That should be an example for us to find a secret place of prayer.  And because He is at the right hand of God interceding for us continually, we are certain that He will not tire or forget.  The disciples were in trouble at sea, but it was only a small sample of the hardships that lay ahead.  When they went out to preach the Gospel, they were met with hostility and persecution.  But it is comforting to all of Christ’s disciples, that when we are in a storm, that the Master is in Heaven, interceding for us. 

When Christ came to rescue them, He needed only to speak to the wind and the waves, as He had done before, but He chose to save them in the most gracious way He could; He came Himself.  He came walking on the water.

He set his face like He was going to pass them by.  He took no notice of them, so that they would call out to Him for help.  But they thought that they were seeing a demon, perhaps the one who brought the storm.  But He calmed their fears by letting then know that it was Him.  Note: the knowledge that Christ is near us, is enough drive away the fear from any disciple of Christ. 

When Jesus stepped into the ship the storm ceased.  He didn’t say a word, so this is different from His previous encounter with nature, where He spoke to the elements, “Peace, be still.” 

They were surprised and astonished by this miracle.  They evidentially did not give enough weight to the previous miracles they had seen.  The feeding of the five thousand was great evidence of His awesome power, and if they would have given that the proper consideration, they would not have been so overwhelmed by what He did here.  But it did confirm their faith; that He was the Son of God.



15 Jesus knew that the people planned to come and take him by force and make him their king, so he left and went into the hills alone.
16 That evening Jesus’ followers went down to Lake Galilee.
17 It was dark now, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The followers got into a boat and started across the lake to Capernaum.
18 By now a strong wind was blowing, and the waves on the lake were getting bigger.
19 When they had rowed the boat about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the water, coming toward the boat. The followers were afraid,
20 but Jesus said to them, “It is I. Do not be afraid.”
21 Then they were glad to take him into the boat. At once the boat came to land at the place where they wanted to go. (NCV)

John, like Mark, omits reporting Peter walking on the water.

Jesus knew that the crowd wanted to make Him their king, because they believed that He was the Messiah.  They were even considering kidnapping Him and taking Him to Jerusalem.  They wanted a Messiah that would be a conqueror, and assume political leadership, and release them from the yoke of Roman rule.  Jesus understood the situation, so He slipped away to the mountains. And besides, it was a mistake on their part to think that His kingdom was of this earth.

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