In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Genesis 1:1-2 (emphasis mine)
To the mind of the Jewish people living during the days of the Bible, water was a frightening place. It was chaotic and completely uncontrollable. The watery depths were dark and dangerous. Who knew what lived down there in its murky bottoms.
Water was not a safe or good place to be. So the Rabbis (Jewish teachers) found it fascinating that the foremost leader of Israel, Moses, had some amazing interactions with water. When Moses was a baby Pharaoh’s daughter drew him out of the water. Then later as a man, Moses, through the power of God, parted the Sea of Reads (water) and allowed all Israel to walk through this frightening and powerful creation.
Reading in Genesis one that the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters, the Rabbis asked, “Who could hover over the water? If Moses, one of the greatest leaders of Israel had to walk through the water and be drawn out of the water, obviously the Spirit that hovers over the water has to be one better than Moses. And who is this One? He is the Messiah.”
The Messiah, the future King of Israel is the One who hovers over the water.
Fast forward now several thousand years and we get to these verses in Matthew 14:
“Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. (on the water!)
I’ve always wondered at the purpose of Jesus walking on the water.
If He needed to get to the other side quickly, why not just transport Himself? Why not charter another boat and follow shortly behind? Why send the disciples on ahead anyways, why not let them stay and sleep while Jesus prays? And then they can all go together later.
I can’t say for sure, but I wonder if Jesus was silently saying something. Being a Rabbi Himself, Jesus knew that the other Rabbis taught that the Messiah would be “over the water.” So Jesus puts Himself over the water. What if even in this moment Jesus was making a statement?
By walking on the water, I wonder if Jesus was loudly proclaiming “I am the Messiah. I am the One better than Moses. He was drawn out of the water. I am the One who walks on the Water. Who hovered over the water at the creation of the world, I am He.”
Maybe, maybe not. But maybe. It’s a fascinating thought. What do you think?