What do “Eggo Waffles” or your “ego” have to do with the divinity of Jesus Christ? Absolutely nothing! The phrase ego eimi is a Greek phrase meaning “I AM.” In the Greek Septuagint, this is the exact phrase used by God to describe his name to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3:14.
Some modern skeptics have conjectured that the divinity of Christ was not talked about in the earliest Gospels, like Matthew or Mark (written around A.D. 70 and A.D. 66, respectively), but was developed by the early Church and is only explicit in the Gospel of John, which came later (written around A.D. 90). The story of Jesus walking on water from Matthew and Mark, however, completely overturns that theory as both accounts show Christ’s divinity in dramatic ways.
Here are five ways you can see Christ’s divinity on display in the story of Jesus walking on water.
1. Tramples the waters
To a Jewish audience who understood the Old Testament Scriptures well, the parallels between Jesus and the God of Israel in this story are quite clear. Water plays a significant role in this story and harkens us back to the God of Israel “who alone stretched out the heavens, and trampled the waves of the sea” (Job 9:8). Jesus walking on the waves of the Sea of Galilee is a “trampling” that only God has the power to do. He is making his way “through the sea” and a “path through the great waters” where his “footprints [are] unseen” (Psalm 77:19, cf. Is. 43:16). “When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you, they were afraid, yes, the deep trembled” (Psalm 77:16).
2. Pass by
Mark’s narrative adds a peculiar detail: “And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them” (Mark 6:48). Why did Jesus mean to “pass by” the disciples when they are clearly in danger and crying out for help? To “pass by” is an allusion to God, who in the Old Testament, let his glory “pass by” Moses (Exod. 33:19, 22; 34:6) and Elijah (1 Kgs. 19:11) as they were not permitted to behold the face of God. At a dramatic turn of events, the God of Israel now lets his face be seen in the face of Jesus Christ. He chooses not to pass by this time! Instead, he speaks.
3. “Ego Eimi”
“The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, upon many waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful, the voice of the Lord full of majesty” (Ps. 29:3-4) As the disciples are frightened at thinking this person walking on the sea is a ghost, Jesus calls out and says “Take heart. It is I; have no fear” (Mark 6:50, cf. Matt. 14:27). At first glance, with the way our English Bibles translate the Greek, the full weight and significance of what Jesus says is lost. In the Greek, Jesus says, ego eimi” to identify himself. In other words, he says “I AM”. Jesus is the great “I AM” who spoke his name to Moses in the burning bush, now come in the flesh. The God of Israel has now visited his people!
4. Outstretched arm
In Matthew’s account, there is an additional scene of Peter calling out to Jesus and being enabled to walk on the water toward Jesus. Unfortunately, Peter stops fixing his gaze on Jesus and starts becoming fearful at the wind around him and begins to sink. Peter calls out for the Lord to save him (in Greek the word “Lord” is “Kyrios”, which was the word used for God instead of the unutterable name of Yahweh). Responding to this cry for God, Jesus reaches out his hand to save Peter. For God alone saves “with a strong hand and outstretched arm” (Ps. 136:12)
5. Worship & confess
When Jesus gets into the boat with Peter, the wind ceases and the Twelve apostles worship Jesus and confess, “Truly, you are the Son of God” (Matt. 14:33). Worship is given to God, and God alone. Yet, here the disciples give Jesus this worship, and confess his divinity as the Son of God. When all of these scriptural allusions from the Old Testament are seen in the words and actions of Jesus, it leads us to the same necessary response: we worship Jesus as God in the flesh!