The story of Jesus walking on the water is pretty cool. It’s iconic, it’s fun to imagine the event, and it gives us a variety of lessons. Most of the teachings I’ve heard from this passage are about faith, trust, or stepping into a calling. Unless you read Greek, however, you’ve probably been missing the most significant element of the narrative.
At the end of the story, “those in the boat worshiped Him and said, ‘Truly You are the Son of God!’ ” (HCSB)
That’s a Messianic title in the Hebrew scriptures with which these Jewish men were familiar. In this instance, the disciples understood who He is. What convinced them at this point? Several hours and one mile before, they had seen Him feed 5,000 men and their families with only five loaves of bread and two fish — and they had no such response.
Jesus was not merely pulling a Criss Angel.
He certainly was displaying His command over nature, but He was more importantly declaring and demonstrating who He is. In verse 27, he says,
“Don’t be afraid. Take courage. I am here!” (NLT)
The phrase, “I am here” (or often translated “It is I“) in the original Greek is ἐγὼ εἰμι (egō eimi). That literally means, “I AM“. Boom. Here, Yeshua was claiming the identity of YHWH, and these Jewish disciples knew exactly what He meant. I’d bet that they were also reminded of Job 9:8 –
“He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea.” (HCSB)