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I Am; do not be afraid.

Lent 2022

Read John 6:16-27

16 When evening came, his disciples went down to the sea, 17 got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. 18 The sea became rough because a strong wind was blowing. 19 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and coming near the boat, and they were frightened. 20 But he said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” 21 Then they were glad to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land to which they were going.

22 On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23 Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.

25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

While the previous section might serve as a reminder of God’s provision, here we are reminded of his protection. In biblical times, darkness, seas, and storms were viewed with fear for they presented real difficulties. People thought they represented evil, danger, or chaos. Here, all three are combined.

Earlier, Jesus perceived that the crowds wanted to make him king. Here, by walking on the water, in the midst of the storm and darkness, Jesus shows the disciples that he is the heavenly king over all of creation. As our Lord approaches the frightened disciples, He invokes the personal name of God (a detail lost in our English translations). “I Am; do not be afraid.”

When we face hardships, when life’s difficulties pile on, or when problems overwhelm, we often jump to questioning God’s presence. At times, our trust can be so fragile that our fears and worries cause us to lose faith in his protection and to doubt his care. Jesus speaks the same words to us as he did to those disciples, “I Am; do not be afraid.” He walked on water to reach the disciples. He hung on the cross to accomplish our salvation. He is with us with the same mercy and power that defeated sin and death. His invitation to us, in the midst of our fear, is to turn to him for protection against danger and deliverance from evil.

Prayer: Lord, there are many evils in this world. Shine your light in the midst of darkness. When I am fearful or overwhelmed, lead me by your word, which is a lamp to my feet, that I may always rest in the shelter of your protection. Amen.

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