If you’ve ever heard the expression “walks on water”, it has something to do with being able to accomplish amazing feats that no-one else could do (though not with the miraculous, just with a high level of talent).
This miracle appears in three out of four gospels, and seems to be about demonstrating Jesus’ power over nature. There are some different details (Bethsaida and Capernaum are both near the edge of the Sea of Galilee).
Matthew 14:22-32 – Jesus Walks on the Water
22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Mt 14:22–32.
Mark 6:45-52 – Jesus Walks on the Water
45 Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. 46 And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray. 47 And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. 48 And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, 49 but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, 50 for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 51 And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, 52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Mk 6:45–52.
John 6:16-21 – Jesus Walks on Water
16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21 Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2016), Jn 6:16–21.
In Matthew, Peter walks out on the water with Jesus, but in the other two, this detail is not present. Are all three records talking about the same event, and emphasising different things? Or did something similar happen multiple times?
The disciples, who were already familiar with Jesus and what he taught, were terrified. What do we make of someone who has this kind of power?