There was once a time when the world knew not of its Savior. Yet there was hope because it had been foretold that a child would be born and called Emmanuel – God is with us. In Lent, we prepare for his coming anew. During this season, we discover for ourselves the call of salvation and the promise of eternal life.
Now everyone in the region had heard of the wonders of this man named Jesus. After feeding thousands from just a few loaves of bread and a couple small fish, the people flocked to the person they deemed a prophet. They struggled to clasp his garment in hopes that a mere touch would cure them of their ailments. They chased after him wanting to exalt Jesus as their king.
Jesus eschewed their adulation. He didn’t seek to be a celebrity and he did not want to be their earthly king. So, after the miraculous feeding of the multitudes, he went off to be by himself away from the adoring crowds. He instructed his disciples to get in a boat and head to the other side of the lake. Later that night, the waters became turbulent as a storm raged across the lake. The boat swayed wildly and the men held on firmly desperate to stay afloat.
Then Jesus came to them, walking on the water. He said:
“It is I. Be not afraid.” (John 6:20)
Jesus steered the boat ashore and safely delivered his disciples to land.
The people had wanted Jesus for their king, but that was not what Jesus wanted. A king’s power was imposed by fear and intimidation; by threats and through bondage, but that was not what Jesus wanted. He spoke to his disciples to calm their fear and to ease their mind. When he said, “it is I,” he was reminding them that he was the friend they knew to be kind and merciful, loving and pure. When he said, “be not afraid,” he was assuring them that he was not sent to enslave them as indentured servants. Rather, he was sent as the one true way to know God.
The people first came to think of Jesus as the one who could feed them, who would heal them, and who would save them from harm. The people considered him a prophet and hoped he would become their king.
But that is not what Jesus wanted. That is not why he was sent. He was sent to offer a choice:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Jesus Christ does not desire adulation; he seeks only faith. He comes to us in friendship to share the truth of God saying:
“It is I. Be not afraid.”
There is nothing to fear for God is with us.
These Gospel stories are re-imagined in the book series:
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