When we read the story of Jesus walking on water, one question that often arises is – which disciples were in the boat with him? The Gospel accounts provide us with some clues, but it can be a bit confusing to piece together the details. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the different accounts and try to answer this question.
Before we dive into the disciple list, let’s set the context of the story. This event takes place after Jesus had fed 5,000 people with just five loaves of bread and two fish. He sent his disciples in a boat to cross over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee while he dismissed the crowds and went up on a mountainside to pray.
As night fell, a storm came upon the sea and began to toss the boat around. The disciples were struggling against the wind and waves when they saw Jesus walking on water towards them.
At first, they thought he was a ghost, but Jesus reassured them and climbed into the boat. The wind died down immediately, and they reached their destination.
The Different Accounts
The story of Jesus walking on water is found in three of the four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, and John. Let’s take a look at what each account tells us about which disciples were in the boat.
Matthew’s account provides us with more details about this event than any other Gospel writer. He tells us that after dismissing the crowds, Jesus went up on a mountainside by himself to pray until evening. Meanwhile, his disciples had set sail for Capernaum in a boat.
As they were crossing over, a strong wind arose and began to batter against them. In between 3 AM and 6 AM (the fourth watch), Jesus came toward them walking on water.
When the disciples saw him, they were terrified and thought he was a ghost. But Jesus reassured them, saying, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Peter then asked Jesus if he could come out on the water too, and Jesus invited him to do so. But when Peter saw the wind and became afraid, he began to sink. Jesus reached out his hand and caught him, saying, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
When they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Matthew doesn’t give us a specific list of disciples who were in the boat with Jesus. However, he does mention that after this event, they arrived at Gennesaret and people recognized Jesus. They brought all their sick to him to be healed.
Mark’s account of this event is shorter than Matthew’s. He tells us that after feeding the 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish, Jesus made his disciples get into a boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida while he dismissed the crowd.
As they were crossing over to Bethsaida at night with strong winds against them on the Sea of Galilee when they saw Jesus walking on water towards them.
Mark doesn’t tell us which disciples were in the boat during this event.
John’s account is even shorter than Mark’s but provides a slightly different perspective on what happened. He tells us that after feeding the 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish, Jesus withdrew by himself to a mountain to pray while his disciples got into a boat and set off for Capernaum.
As they were crossing over to Capernaum at night, darkness had already set in and Jesus had not yet joined them. Then a strong wind began to blow, stirring up the sea. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on water and approaching the boat.
John doesn’t mention which disciples were in the boat during this event.
The Disciples in the Boat
From the accounts we’ve looked at, there isn’t a definitive answer to which disciples were in the boat with Jesus when he walked on water. However, we can make some educated guesses based on what we know about the disciples.
All four Gospels agree that Jesus had twelve disciples who followed him closely during his ministry. These were Simon Peter, Andrew (Peter’s brother), James (son of Zebedee), John (James’ brother), Philip, Bartholomew (also known as Nathanael), Matthew (also known as Levi), Thomas (also known as Didymus), James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus (also known as Judas son of James or Lebbaeus), Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot.
Given that there were twelve disciples and usually only one boat was used for transportation, it’s safe to assume that several of them were in the boat with Jesus during this event.
In conclusion, while we don’t have an exact list of which disciples were in the boat with Jesus when he walked on water, it’s likely that several of them were present. What’s more important than knowing who was there is understanding what this event teaches us about Jesus’ power over nature and his ability to calm our fears. As we read this story today, may we be encouraged to trust in him no matter what storms we may face in life.