In everything he did, Jesus was showing his authority—his ability to command the spirit world. He commanded demons to leave his presence, he commanded fevers to disappear. He pulled a little girl out of the power of Death, an evil spirit. This authority was given to him by the Father, and the disciples were constantly amazed at his abilities. He also showed that he could pass this authority on to his disciples, for they also were able to heal and cast out demons by using Jesus’ authority. But they were still to be amazed by him.
After the disciples had returned to Capernum from one of their missions Jesus sent them out on, he looked at them and said, “You look worn out. Let’s get away from the crowds and get some rest.” That sounded good to the disciples, so they all piled into a boat and traveled to another part of the sea.
As they were leaving, there were many crowds watching them go, all of them hoping that they would be able to be helped by Jesus—some wanted healing, some wanted to hear his teaching. They were all disappointed to see that they were going away, and they watched them drift to the middle of the lake. One of the crowd said, “Hey, I see where they are going—come on, let’s follow them!”
The disciples and Jesus arrived at a secluded place and was prepared for some well-deserved rest. But no sooner had they arrived than the crowd they had left behind them in Capernum arrived, waiting for assistance. The disciples groaned, but Jesus saw how desperate these people were. They were without anyone to help them, without anyone to lead them to God. Because Jesus had compassion on them, he began to teach them.
After a few hours of teaching, the disciples went to Jesus and said, “Well, these people must be hungry. They’ve walked all this way, without food, so please send them home.” Jesus just looked at the disciples and said, “You feed them.” The disciples were stunned and replied, “Even if we worked for six months, it wouldn’t be enough to feed this huge crowd,” for there were more than five thousand people. So Jesus said, “Well, how much food do we have?” A disciple found a boy with five loaves of bread and two fish, “But that’s all we have,” the disciple whined. Jesus said, “That will have to do.”
Jesus took the food they had, and blessed it by offering thanks to God for it. Then he told the disciples to organize the crowd into groups of 50. Then he broke the bread and gave it to the disciples to distribute to all the people. He gave it to the disciples, more and more—and the five loaves of bread and two fish didn’t stop coming. Jesus kept giving and giving, until all of the five thousand had enough to eat, and more. After everyone had eaten, Jesus sent the crowds away, and the disciples picked up the leftovers—and there were twelve baskets of bread left over.
Jesus was exhausted by then, and felt that he needed to pray. So he told the disciples to get into the boat and to go back to Capernum, and he would catch up with them later. They left, and Jesus went up a hill to pray. In the midst of the sea, however, a great wind came up and the waves were strong against them. The disciples recognized that a spirit of the waters came against them, to attack them. They didn’t know what to do, and they were afraid they were lost. The strained against the oars, trying to get to shore, but nothing could be done.
Jesus saw them struggling, and he determined to help them. Using his authority over the spirits of the sea, Jesus walked on the water, to the middle of the sea where the disciples were. The disciples weren’t expecting anyone, of course, so they thought that Jesus was a spirit coming to attack them, and they yelled out in horror. Jesus yelled back, over the wind, “Don’t be afraid. It’s me.”
Peter yelled back, “Is it really you, Lord? If it is, tell me to come out to the water with you.” Jesus smiled at his brashness and said, “Come on out.” So Peter climbed over the side of the boat and was walking on the water to Jesus. Suddenly, Peter noticed the waves again, and he became afraid and began to sink. Peter immediately called out, “Lord, help me!” Jesus grabbed Peter and they both climbed into the boat.
Immediately, the wind died down and the sea was calm. The disciples all stared at Jesus and said to each other, “What kind of man could he be, to have authority over the winds and sea?” Suddenly, they were at Capernum. Later, the crowds that had followed them also came to Capernum. They saw Jesus and the disciples there and asked, “How did you get here ahead of us? We left first.”
Jesus said to the crowds, “Why are you seeking me? For me, or for some more food? Work for the food of heaven, not of earth.” They replied, “What shall we do to work for God?” Jesus replied, “This is the work of God: to have faith in the one whom God has sent.”