Missing the Point

Have you ever read John’s account of when Jesus walked on water? [John 6:16-21] It goes something like this:

The disciples were trying to get across the lake when daylight faded and a storm hit. They rowed hard for three or four miles trying to reach the shore before the boat sank. Suddenly, they saw Jesus walking on the water, and they were afraid. Jesus said, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they were glad, they let him in the boat, they immediately reached the shore, and they all lived happily ever after.

Well, I kind of added the happily ever after part. But, what about the part where the disciples think they are seeing a ghost? Where is the story of Peter getting out of the boat? He struggled and nearly drowned until Jesus pulled him out of the waves. Surely John saw and felt and heard and experienced all of this. But all John really tells us is that the disciples were afraid, Jesus told them not to be, then everything was great. Why didn’t he tell us about it as Matthew did?

Maybe he didn’t tell us because he didn’t think those details were the point. Maybe he intended that we get a different lesson from the story.

John’s story, in bare-bones outline form, goes something like this: 1) the disciples are deathly afraid; 2) Jesus comes to them in their time of greatest need; 3) the disciples are safe and comforted. And, in the middle of it all is the main point, the main event, the climax, and purpose, and moral of the story: Jesus Christ. He rescued the disciples. He gave the disciples peace and comfort. He brought the disciples to their destination. He walked on water!

Don’t miss the point as you sit through sermons and Bible classes week after week; as you say your prayers, sing a few hymns, and eat a pinch of cracker followed by a splash of grape juice; as you struggle with temptation and marvel as the world goes down the moral toilet. Tradition, religion, spirituality, temptations, struggles, and morality are all part of the plot, but they are not the point of the story. Jesus Christ is the point of the story.

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2 thoughts on “Missing the Point

  1. The four gospels recount the same story, but from different perspectives. When someone becomes a Christian, they are typically told to read John first. I won’t argue that point. But if they read John and then move on to other books without reading Matthew, Mark and Luke, they miss out on the totality of the Gospel of Christ. Many would argue that these four books contridict each other. But that’s because we approach them with a 20th/21st century mindset. In a detail oriented society, we tend to pick out interesting details from a given story and miss the big picture. When these books were written, it was understood that it was, in fact, the big picture that was being conveyed.

    I’m reading “The Tangible Kingdom”. In the book, the author poses this question: If all we had was Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to go by, would our approach to ministry be different? Some would say this is a ridiculous statement, that all scripture is God-breathed and is neccesary to become fully devoted followers of Christ. To a certain extent, I believe that. (And I absolutely agree that the bible is the inerrant word of God.) At the same time, I think many get hung up on certain passages of scripture and it can cause us to be legalistic, or worse, lead us to believe that we could never live up to what is expected of us (or that we need to). It is my hope that people be disclipled to first understand the gospel from their heads and from their hearts, then continue to deepen their relationship with God by studying the rest of the bible. I suppose that’s sort of what your point was, but I’m pretty thick sometimes. I’ve got to restate things so that they make sense to me. Sorry for the long comment. I didn’t intend to be so wordy, but when I get on a roll, it’s hard to stop.

  2. Katdish,

    Thanks for the long comment…and I can’t say that I mind because I do the same thing.

    I think you are hitting on what my point was (what the point is). The power is in Christ, not in me…at least not in my own ability. Forgiveness, righteousness, peace, and joy are in Christ. Like you said, we can get caught up in this or that passage or issue and forget the gospel.

    Christianity is devotion to Christ, not just to a standard of living or “church” or ways of doing things. It is a relationship with the One who saves.

    I don’t think Matthew or Mark missed the point, but we miss the point if we think the story is about some disciples who think they saw a ghost, or about Peter getting out of the boat. The main point is that Jesus, the Son of God, with the power to walk on water, rescued His disciples. And He ought to be the main point of our faith.

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