The Miracle of Jesus Christ Walking on Water, Matthew 14:22-34; Mark 6:45-52; John 6:15-21
The miracle of Jesus Christ walking on water is given in Matthew 14:22-34; Mark 6:45-52; and John 6:15-21. The events of this miracle are reported a little differently in the three Gospels. Matthew’s and Mark’s account of this miracle are similar except in Matthew’s account, it is the first time the Apostles declare Jesus Christ to be the Son of God. The declaration of Jesus’ divinity is emphasized in Matthew’s account not only with the Apostles words but also in their physical actions of worshiping Jesus Christ because they knew that worship was only to be given to God alone. John’s account is different from Matthew and Mark in that Peter does not walk on water and their destination is named as Capernaum. Despite the differences between the three Gospels, most biblical scholars believe that the three Gospels are documenting the same miracle.
In the Gospel reading of Matthew 14:22-34 that is heard in today’s Divine Liturgy, this is the second time Jesus and His Apostles are caught in a storm at sea. The first storm at sea that is reported by the Apostles is in Matthew 8:23-27 (also in Mark 4:35-41 and Luke 8:22-25). In the first storm, when the storm arose, Jesus was with the Apostles but asleep. The Apostles became afraid and woke Jesus and said, “Lord, save us we are perishing!”. Jesus said, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?”. Jesus then calmed the winds and the sea. Jesus used similar words to respond to the Apostles fears in the second storm at sea. The major difference between the two storms at sea accounts is that in the first storm, the Apostles did not fully understand about Jesus’ Divinity which is revealed by their comment, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”; where in the second storm, they became fully aware of His Divinity and worshiped him.
Most Biblical scholars agree that the scriptural imagery of Jesus Christ in the boat with His Apostles is representative of the Church. Within our own Church, the area where the congregation gathers to worship the Lord is called the Nave derived from the Latin: navis meaning ship which is implied from its rectangular shape. Within Scripture in the Old Testament, being saved by God from a storm while on a boat also occurs in Genesis 6:9-8:22 when God commanded Noah to build an ark to save himself, his family and the animals from destruction. The Holy Fathers of the Church have always taught that the mission of the Church, the Assembly, is to be the ship of our salvation. It is through the Sacramental life of the Church that Christians weather the storms of life through the Lord and are led toward the salvation of their souls.
References: The New Testament Vol. 1, 2, 3 and 4, Paul Tarazi, St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press; Commentary on The Gospel of Matthew by Lawrence Farley, Conciliar Press; Commentary on the Gospel of Mark by Lawrence Farley, Conciliar Press; Commentary on the Gospel of Luke by Lawrence Farley, Conciliar Press; Commentary on the Gospel of John by Lawrence Farley, Conciliar Press; KJV.