John 6:16-21 – Jesus Walks on Water

Read John 6:16&17
16 That evening Jesus’ disciples went down to the shore to wait for him. 17 But as darkness fell and Jesus still hadn’t come back, they got into the boat and headed across the lake toward Capernaum. 

*Why do you think they left without Jesus?  Jesus probably wanted to be by himself.

*Why did Jesus take so long? He waits presumably because the crowd had been talking of taking Him to Jerusalem to install Him as king
*Do you think darkness represents anything? Darkness is a common John theme describing existence without Christ. On their own, in the darkness, away from Christ the strong wind whipped around them.

*How do you think the disciples thought Jesus would get to the shore? It’s unclear how the disciples expected Jesus to eventually catch up to them • Perhaps they thought He would walk along the shore, since the route they took was within site of the shore – it was maybe a 10 mile walk. We learn later that there was one other small boat at the shore, so perhaps they assumed He just wanted some alone time and then He planned to row Himself out to meet them (we learn that later in John 6:22)


Read Mark 6:45&46

45 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida, while he sent the people home. 46 After telling everyone good-bye, he went up into the hills by himself to pray.


*Did you notice that John said Capernaum and Mark said Bethsaida?  Mark’s Gospel says they were returning to Bethesda, which is where John says Jesus fed the crowd • So you might wonder are they leaving Bethsaida or returning to Bethsaida • As it turns out, there are two Bethsaidas around the Sea of Galilee – The word Bethsaida means “fish town” – So it’s not surprising that there would be multiple places around a large lake called fish town • They were leaving Bethsaida Julius and returning to a Bethsaida which was part of larger Capernaum


*Notice also that in Mark Jesus tells them goodbye then left, do you think the disciples wondered why Jesus sent them away?


Read John 6:18

18 Soon a gale swept down upon them, and the sea grew very rough.


They were at the Sea of Galilee.  It is not a sea, it is a lake, the largest in Israel, 13 miles, by 8 miles.  It is the lowest lake in world, about 700 feet under sea level.  It sits surrounded by mountains.  Because it is surrounded by mountains, there are often storms and high waves. And on that night, they were especially strong.  Rowing taking longer than sailing, and it goes especially slowly when the wind is against you.


*Do you think the disciples were afraid of the storm? There is no indication they were afraid of the storm itself • But they were troubled by their inability to move ahead • In fact, Matthew tells us that Jesus approached them in the fourth watch of the night – Which was between 3–6 AM • So these men had been at work rowing for at least 6–7 hours for a trip that should have taken less than half that time – And they are still not at the shore as yet o John adds that they had rowed around 3 miles by this point which places them almost to their destination • Mark’s Gospel says they were in the middle of the sea but the Greek word can also be translated the “midst” of the sea • In other words, they were still too far from land to get out of the boat •


Read John 6:19&20

19 They had rowed three or four miles when suddenly they saw Jesus walking on the water toward the boat. They were terrified, 20 but he called out to them, “Don’t be afraid. I am here! ” 


*Why do you think Jesus was walking on water?  Would you like to walk on water?  How about during a storm?


Read Mark 6:47-50
47 Late that night, the disciples were in their boat in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. 48 He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking he was a ghost. 50 They were all terrified when they saw him.


*Why do you think Jesus was intending to walk past them?  Maybe he did not want to frighten them.


Read Matthew 14:27

27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”


Read Matthew 14:28&29

28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” 29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.

*Would you have wanted to walk on water too?  Did any of the other disciples ask?
*Why do you think Peter asked to walk on the water too?


Read Matthew 14:30-32

30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,”Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” 32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.


*Was Peter afraid when he had his eyes on Jesus? No

*When did Peter become afraid? When he took his eyes off Jesus.

*What was the miracle Jesus just did?  Feed 5000.

*What is the bigger miracle feeding people or walking on water? They are both pretty amazing, but I wonder by they were not as amazed with feeding 5000.

*How do both miracles relate to Exodus?  God provided the bread and controlled the elements when he parted the Red Sea.

Jesus rescues us as God rescued the Israelites from Pharaoh when they crossed the Red Sea. We all need to be rescued. He reaches out to us; we all need to do is respond to Him by taking His hand.


Read Mark 6:50-52

 50 They were all terrified when they saw him. But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage! I am here!” 51 Then he climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped. They were totally amazed, 52 for they still didn’t understand the significance of the miracle of the loaves. Their hearts were too hard to take it in.

*What was the significance of the miracle of the loaves?  *What is Jesus called?   The bread of life.

*Why is bread so important? We would die if we did not eat.

*Would you die without Jesus?  No one can get eternal life without Jesus.

* How might we explain what is happening to allow Jesus to walk on water?  In Genesis 1 we’re told that in the beginning the Spirit was hovering over the surface of the waters in total darkness • And earlier in John’s Gospel we were told that Jesus was the Word Who created all things in the beginning

*What is the significance of saying “I am here”? · “I AM,” as the name God used to reveal who He was to Moses.  It is part of a phrase that will be increasingly used by John. “I am the bread of life.” “I am the good shepherd.” “I am the true vine.” These are only a few of the “I am” statements in John

*What is the significance of “do not be afraid”? Out of the storm comes the comforting words,  God is here, do not be afraid”.  This is also a promise of God, meaning we have freedom from fear, as our Lord is our partner in life and faith.

Read John 6:21

21 Then they were eager to let him in the boat, and immediately they arrived at their destination! 


*How did they arrive immediately?  Jesus can do whatever he wants. Jesus is not set by our rules here on earth, time and gravity.  He can do anything, He is God.

*Is arriving immediately a bigger miracle than the bread and walking on water?


  • How do you respond to difficultly and hardships? What do you do when the storms of life come upon you?
  • What are some tests of faith and thinking you have faced? How have these experiences helped you grow in the faith?
  • How has Jesus rescued you in the past? From what do you think you need God to rescue you today?
  • In what ways did you fail to recognize that Jesus was there in a time of need or stress? How can seeing what Christ did for you in the past help you trust Him more in the future?