all at sea

Themes: John

Keith Hitchman

Holiday time. There's a certain attraction to taking a holiday by the seaside. The fresh sea air. The sound of seagulls overhead. Fish and chips on the prom. Penny slot machines. Penny slot machines? Wasn't that the 70's? Showing my age! I grew up close to the sea. Being close to the water is important to me.

Holidays are, quite literally, 'holy days'. Traditionally most of our holidays have coincided with holy seasons - Christmas, Easter, Whitsun (Pentecost). Likewise the events of John 6 take place during a Jewish holy season - Passover. 'Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near.' (John 6: 4).

The Feast of Passover is the Jewish festival of freedom, commemorating as it does the exodus from captivity in Egypt of the Hebrew people, following after the promise of a homeland for the People of God.

One way of reading the Old Testament is to do so 'typologically' - whereby 'events, persons, or statements in the Old Testament are seen as types pre-figuring or superseded by antitypes, events or aspects of Christ or his revelation described in the New Testament'.

Jesus is both the means of pass-over (from spiritual captivity to spiritual freedom) as well Himself being the em-body-ment of the Passover. Interestingly the urdu word savera mentioned by Annette last Sunday (meaning 'dawn', 'new day', 'new beginning'), is related to the term and title Saviour.

In the original Passover story Moses leads the People of God across the Red Sea into the wilderness, where they spend forty years wandering. During the time of wandering the people suffer hunger. God responds by providing Manna - bread from heaven. In the Feeding of the Five Thousand (John 6: 1-14) the people are once again fed with supernaturally produced bread, a miracle that points to Jesus as the 'Bread of Life'

"I am the Bread of life" - Jesus, John 6: 35.

So to the sea and to the miracle of Jesus walking on the water (John 16: 21). Jesus didn't walk on water simply because He could. It isn't a random act. There's a point to it. A 'Passover Point'.

The sea attracts us. It also commands our respect. Historically the Hebrew people were sea-fearers, not seafarers. They "didn't like the sea that much" (Tom Wright). The Hebrew scriptures (OT) depicts the ocean as a fearful place, full of sea monsters and other dangers. Its highly likely that Jesus' disciples were wary of the waters.

Jesus had withdrawn to a high place to pray. The disciples decide to cross the lake. A storm is brewing. Suddenly they see Jesus walking towards them on the waters. And they are terrified.

Jesus is our Passover. Where Moses led the people through the Red Sea, Jesus helps us to rise above the stormy waters of life. We all need freeing from spiritual captivity. Sometimes it feels as if there is a vast chasm between us and God, filled with restless waters. Jesus promises, in word and deed, that as we put our trust in Him, He will help us to rise above the waves.