As we come to Matthew 14:15-36, we see two crucial miracles which have been much pondered. The first, of course, is the feeding of the five thousand; and the second is Jesus walking on the water.
C.S. Lewis considered these miracles to be (in one sense) very different from each other.
The feeding of the five thousand was a miracle which repeated, at a specific time and a specific place, what God does everywhere, all the time:
[T]he two instances of miraculous feeding . . . . involve the multiplication of a little bread and a little fish into much bread and much fish. . . . Every year God makes a little corn into much corn: the seed is sown and there is an increase. . . .
Look down into every bay and almost every river. The swarming, undulating fecundity shows he is still at work “thronging the seas with spawn innumerable” . . . . And now, that day, at the feeding of the thousands, incarnate God does the same: does close and small, under his human hands, a workman’s hands, what He has always been doing in the seas, the lakes and the little brooks.
C.S.Lewis, Miracles: A Preliminary Study 164-65 (MacMillan 1947).
In the multiplication of the bread and the fishes, Jesus shows himself to be doing what God does all the time. Lewis calls this a “Miracle of the Old Creation.”
In this sense, when Jesus stilled the storm in Matthew 8:23-27, Jesus was doing what God always does ― for God stills every storm, eventually:
When Christ stills the storm He does what God has often done before. God made Nature such that there would be both storms and calms: in that way all storms (except those that are still going on at this moment) have been stilled by God.
Miracles, p. 169.
But, says Lewis, when Jesus walks on the Sea of Galilee, something different occurs:
[W]hen Christ walks on the water we have a miracle of the New Creation. God had not made the Old Nature, the world before the Incarnation, of such a kind that water would support the human body. The miracle is a foretaste of a Nature that is still in the future. The New Creation is just breaking in. For a moment it looks as if it were going to spread. For a moment two men are living in that new world.
So the two miracles are different.
In the one, Jesus does, in a specific time and place, what God does, always, in every time and every place. In the next Jesus reveals a glimpse of the kingdom to come, in which he will rule over all the material and immaterial universe.
Jesus has been talking to his disciples about the kingdom, but here he shows it. He says “In my kingdom, all those who follow me will be fed, and those who believe in me will rule with me.”
The disciples see a glimpse only, but their response is striking:
Truly you are the Son of God.
The miracles are different, but they lead to a single conclusion: Jesus is Messiah, God in the flesh, the one who will rule in the Kingdom to come.
Here’s the handout: