The DEEP

Reality Disconnects

You can relax now?

John 6:16–21

Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them. Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing. So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid. But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.

The Greek words in verse 20 translated as, “It is I,” are not the normal “ay-me” but rather “egg-oh ay-me.” This overly emphatic way of Jesus referring to Himself is a direct claim of divinity. It harkens back to God speaking to Moses from the burning bush.

And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ” — Exodus 3:14

There, God used an overly emphatic way of saying it in Hebrew (eh-yeh ah-share eh-yeh). That’s why it’s written in all caps in the Bible.

Of course, Jesus wasn’t speaking in Greek when He said, “It is I.” He was speaking in Aramaic, which is very similar to Hebrew. Presumably, He said something like, “eh-yeh.” They all know what that means.

So, what Jesus says to them amounts to, “God is here; you can relax now.”


This whole incident is discipleship training. They’re going to have many moments of fear, weakness, and doubt. They need to get used to it.

That explains the strange ending to this passage. Jesus doesn’t calm the waves this time; He ends the whole thing instantly—and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.

Think about what that must have felt like to these guys. They’re struggling to deal with the weather. They’re miserable, and they’re scared. Then Jesus comes out walking on the water like some kind of ghost. That’s even more scary. Then He says, “It is I; do not be afraid,” using the divine term for “I.”

They relax a bit and let Him in the boat. And then,

blink, they’re on the shore.

For a moment, reality disconnects. This has an “everything is just an illusion” feel to it—sort of like in the movie, “The Matrix.” For an instant they wonder if this is all a dream, but it’s soon clear that it’s real.

In a way, that’s the scariest thing of all. Any confidence they had in themselves or in their grasp of reality just went out the window. Everything has turned to Jell-O.

Trusting Jesus is the only thing they have left.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.