John 6:16-20 “When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But he said to them, ‘It’s me; 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.”
When the disciples are terrified, Jesus simply says to them, “I am.” It is true that the Greek words behind this can be simply translated as, “It’s me,” But there are indications that Jesus is not using it in this sense alone. It seems to be a favourite expression of Jesus. In one form or another he uses it 45 times in the gospel of John. He even uses it when the past tense is called for, breaking all the rules of grammar, as in John 5:58 (“Before Abraham was, I am.”)
What Jesus is doing is echoing the exclusive and absolute claim, as well as the name, of the Jehovah God of the Old Testament, “I am”. The water was getting rough because a strong wind was blowing. When the wind had driven them out for about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the water. He was approaching the boat and they were afraid. He said to them, “I Am. Don’t be afraid.”
“I am” usually requires a predicate; something to finish the sentence: “I am here,” “I am hungry”; something like that. The predicate limits the meaning. But Jesus says, “I am.” In other words, “I am all that you need; do not be afraid.”
Words are not just sound waves produced by flapping tongues. You do things with words. Words change reality. This is especially true if they are the words of Jesus.
So, if Jesus can create a galaxy with His word, what happens when He forgets His grammar? If with His word He establishes natural and human law, then when He changes the rules of language around, He gets around natural and human law. He walks on water.
What does this have to do with the gospel? Everything. We believe in a God who “calls those things which do not exist as though they did” (Rom 4:17.) And when He does that, those things become so according to his word.
He declares the unrighteous righteous, and they are. He calls sinners saints and they are.
Now, that doesn’t sound right, does it? Doesn’t Exodus say that God will not justify the wicked. Yes, it does (Ex. 23:7; cf Prov. 17:15).
You see, God found a way! He found a way at Calvary! And if you want to know how you can be righteous, then you will read it in the fourth chapter of Romans. Do I need to explain it further? Not really, just like I do not need to explain how Jesus walked on water. Well, aren’t you glad that God’s revelation did not end with the book of Exodus! Otherwise, you would still be waiting for a Saviour who had never come, and you would have the blood of animals on your hands, hoping that that would make you feel better!
Hallelujah! Praise the Son of God that He not only breaks the rules of language, but that He breaks all the rules of this world that can hold us back! He calls us, a rag-tag bunch of Jesus-followers, His church, His very body called to do His work, and filled with the spirit of God, and we are, because Jesus is.
He says to people who of themselves deserve the wrath of God against sin, “You are now sitting in heavenly places with me,” and they are, because Jesus is.
God calls you His son, His daughter, and you become so, because Jesus is.
God says that that nothing can separate you from His love, and it is so, because Jesus is.
God says to the dead, “Live!” And we will come forth from the tomb – alive – because Jesus is.
God says to you, “I will never leave you; I will be with you forever; you will be cherished eternally as my pride and joy!” And so it is, because Jesus is.
He simply is. He is. We need nothing more. And certainly nothing less.
So, don’t be afraid.