Like a Rock
Among the three New Testament versions of the Lord’s walking on the water (Matt. 14:22–33; Mark 6:45–52; John 6:16–21), Matthew’s is perhaps the most unique and distinctive, because he alone tells of Simon Peter attempting the same thing.
The apostles’ boat, going westward across the Sea of Galilee toward Gennesaret, about five miles away, encounters strong head winds that stir the tossing waves. Hour by hour the boat’s progress is very slow, and by the fourth watch of the night, between three and six o’clock in the morning, the apostles are still a great way from land.
Suddenly Jesus appears, walking on the sea. The startled apostles, conjecturing the figure before them to be an illusion [ phantasma], but nonetheless frightened at the sight, cry out in panic. In response, the voice of Jesus comes to them through the darkness, borne on the whirling courses of the wind: “Take heart, it is I. Be not afraid.”
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Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).
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