“When evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. Darkness had already set in, but Jesus had not yet come to them. Then a high wind arose, and the sea began to churn. After they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea. He was coming near the boat, and they were afraid. But He said to them, “It is I. Don’t be afraid!” Then they were willing to take Him on board, and at once the boat was at the shore where they were heading.” (John 6:16–21, HCSB)
The Sea of Galilee is not as large as I had thought. I might compare it to the Ross Barnett Reservoir in Jackon, MS. It is situated close to the Mediterranean Sea. A natural pass allows storms to sweep in over this small bodied lake. These storms can come quickly, without warning, and they can be quite severe. This is apparently, what happened to the disciples of Jesus. The storm was bad enough that even seasoned fishermen were afraid for their lives.
Imagine, if you will, these men were working with all the strength they could muster and a determination to make it safely to the shore. If the storm was not bad enough, now they were faced with the sight of something they had never seen before; a man walking on the water in their direction. There was no place to run; all they could do was row. And, row they did! They must have been exhausted rowing 3 to 4 miles in heavy seas. So, they are emotionally stressed and physically fatigued. They are afraid.
The words Jesus spoke to them, “It is I, Don’t be afraid,” surely had to be the most comforting words they could have heard. Jesus didn’t say, “Abandon ship.” Nor, did he ask, “What are you doing out in the boat on a night like this?” They knew immediately who He was. They recognized his voice. They were comforted by his presence and words.
When we are afraid, we need to listen for Jesus to speak words of comfort and wisdom. Now, I’ve never heard an audible voice from the Lord. I’ve heard others claim to have heard such things, but call me a skeptic but I’ve never had that kind of experience. I don’t think I need to hear an audible voice. You know why? Because, Jesus told his disciples that he was going to leave them like orphans. He has given us the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that He would guide us, teach us, comfort us, and empower us. He has a way of communicating with us and He lets us know “It is I. Don’t be afraid.”