There’s an odd little passage in John’s account of Jesus walking on the water the night after he had fed the five thousand:
But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.John 6:20-21 NIV
They were willing!? That’s the translation in the NASB and NIV. I immediately ask myself, “Why would they not be willing?” The Greek verb is θελο (thelo), and some translations render that in this passage as “wanted” (NET), or “were glad” (ESV). Those translations may be correct. But I have to wonder if John could be subtly suggesting something that was at issue in the disciples’ response to their teacher: their willingness to accept the unfolding of events on his terms.
THIS IS A STRETCH, I know, but follow me for how I get to my devotional response in the poem….
After feeding the five thousand, Jesus had “wandered” off to avoid a power-hungry crowd. The disciples took off rowing across the lake without Jesus. I think that’s odd. Were they ticked off at him? Now, they were struggling on choppy waters. Is it possible that they were having second thoughts about their teacher? Is it possible that they were just barely “willing” to take him on board given their doubts about his plans?
Maybe I notice that possibility because I myself question Jesus’ plans in my life.
Thus the poem.
John is deep. But I doubt he’s introducing any depth that wasn’t there already in Jesus. That’s part of what prompted this poem. Jesus wasn’t merely responding to circumstances in the disciples’ lives. He was orchestrating events, using his full “vocabulary” of metaphors to drive home truth. It was no accident that the sea was thrashing on that night.
(background adapted from an image by Roberto Barresi on Pixabay)