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John18 – beyond the sea

In fact, as evening came to be, his disciples descended upon the sea and, having embarked into a ship were coming beyond the sea into Capernaum. And darkness had already come to be and Jesus had not yet come towards them and the sea was stirring up - a great wind spiriting. 
This first-century eye-witness biographer (John) has just recorded an incident in the life of Jesus. Having compassion of the huge crowd following him, he had fed them with bread and fish multiplied from a boy’s packed lunch-box.

Another miracle now takes place on that night – before any explanation can be given by Jesus as to the meaning of this bread sign.

Did you notice how the above sentence from the biography also paints a complete and interesting picture of each of our lives. The disciples are together in one ship bound for Capernaum, the best place on the Lake, close to Gennesaret which was the most fertile agricultural centre there. In Hebrew, Caper- is “village” and -naum (Nahum) is “comfort”. They are truly going “beyond the sea”.

But they are going without Jesus - facing the darkness, the storms of life, and the blowing wind of uncertainty. Will he be there - at their ultimate destination? 

So, having driven around twenty-five or thirty stadia, they observed Jesus walking upon the sea and coming to be near to the ship, and they were fearful. In fact he stated to them, “I am. Fear not!” So they were desiring to lay hold of him into the ship, and immediately the ship came to be upon the ground into which they were going away. 

Apparently, the disciples manned the oars – tried to pull through. As with Covid-19 and various efforts to survive. Then, amazingly, they see that Jesus is above the sea – not sinking like them. Who really is in charge of Covid-19 – and war – and death?
‘Jesus Christ is God’s everything for man’s total need.’ (Richard Halverson, Chaplain to US Senate, 1916, 1995)
When they observed this to be the case (Jesus “upon the sea” and not subject to it) they were frightened. This was going to be the end of them – the presence of the Almighty – to cap it all. 

But no. As soon as he said “I am! Fear not!” a new truth arose for them. The Almighty was for them and not against them. Then, “they wanted to receive him” into their ship. Instantly, as soon as they wanted that, they were there. Not after death – straight away. Where? Beyond the sea. Caper-naum.

On the morrow, the crowd that stood beyond the sea saw that other boats were not there (if not, one) and that Jesus did not come in together with his disciples into the ship, but his disciples camee away alone. But boats came from Tiberias near the place where they had eaten the bread of the Lord having thanked. So, when the crowd saw that Jesus is not there, not even his disciples, they themselves embarked into the boats and came into Capernaum seeking Jesus.

Jesus had provided “the bread of the thankful Lord” for 5,000 men plus others near Tiberias, the capital of Samaria, so named after Tiberias Caesar. And we’re now told that it was Tiberian “boats” which took folk from the huge crowd in search of Jesus. Yes, non-Jews were making the running towards Jesus – as the last 2,000 years of history has recorded. And multitudes have followed suit – towards him here and now, and therefore also “beyond the sea”.
‘God has no problems, only plans.’ (Corrie ten Boom, Dutch watchmaker, Ravensbruck survivor, 1892-1983)
And having found him beyond the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come to be here?” Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen I state to you, you seek me not in that you saw signs, but in that you ate of the breads and you were satisfied. Do not work for the food that self-destroys, but the food that stays into eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, because God the Father sealed this one.” 

The crowd from Tiberias, although they had eaten the multiplied “bread”, want to know how Jesus came to Capernaum without a boat. Jesus, concerned for their total welfare, wants them to see something they had missed – something about themselves. Their self-orientation.

Were they coming to him for earthly food, etc.? If so, they were totally missing the point. It’s not (for instance) to avoid Covid-19 that we need to seek him. It’s to receive imperishable food – the eternal life of God – through him. Receiving it in our ‘now’ he stays in the boat forever. Beyond the sea.

Sinner Syvret

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