Surface Tension

summercampDuring the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. (Matthew 14:25)

One thing about Jesus—he’s got style to burn. The walking on water bit has got to be the coolest special effect ever. Yeah, I know rising from the dead has got to be ranked in the top ten, but for sheer superfluous flair the stroll on the lake gets my vote for numero uno.

First of all, he sets the whole thing up for maximum impact. It’s late. Jesus has just finished feeding 5000 plus people with five loaves and a couple of fish. He puts his disciples into a boat sends them ahead of him across the lake while he stays behind to dismiss the crowd. Then Jesus heads into the hills to pray. At around 3:00AM, Jesus notices that his disciples are still out there on the water, fighting some nasty wind and waves. The stage is set.

Production Notes:  Jesus has just completed another top ten miracle. The disciples are primed, but dense. Jesus sends the boys on the water “ahead” of him. This implied that he’s heading their way soon, but only he knows the spin. Jesus is also the boss of the wind and waves (as we find out in another top ten effect). That there just “happens” to be bad weather while the boys are out there serves to create dramatic suspense. Like the Lazarus incident later on, Jesus waits a long time before acting. The boys have been in the water for five or more hours already. They are so ready for relief. Even though they are way out on the lake, Jesus “sees” them. In other words, while he’s been praying, he’s been keeping track of their position. When everything is in place, Jesus makes his move.

So the boys are struggling in the middle of a huge lake on a dark and stormy night. And in the inky blackness through the howling wind and angry waves, a phantom appears walking on the surface of the deep. The disciples freak out. The figure moving toward them can only be a spectre, a ghost. They are utterly terrified.

Production Notes: Jesus, who clearly has the power to arrive in any manner he wishes, chooses an agonizingly slow approach. Notice that Jesus does not identify himself until after the boys have freaked. This seems a favorite strategy of Jesus who employs it in many different miracle circumstances: catastrophe, uncertainty, fear/sorrow, surprise. To make matters weirder, Jesus acts as though he just “passing by.” Even in crisis Jesus has a sense of humor. Once the boys are sufficiently mortified, Jesus flashes his ID.

Peter, ever the blustery type, propositions the ghost claiming to be Jesus. If the phantom is really Jesus, make it possible for Peter to do the monsoon walk too. The ghost agrees and Peter takes a hike only to become the one sinkable folly drowned—well, almost anyway. Jesus catches him, they both jump back in the boat, and the wind suddenly dies down. The boys in the boat conclude that his power walk qualifies Jesus as the son of God.  The end.

Production Notes: Peter gets another bravado cameo. Once again he proves a mix of admirable faith and bumbling stupidity—the perfect qualifications for the first Pope. Jesus allows Peter a few steps before reminding him that he is a doofus. As soon as they hit the boat the storm “happens” to stop. Nice touch (and saves energy too).

High drama. Life-threatening chaos. Mistaken identity. Comic relief. Perfectly timed effects. Great scene. Bonus cartoon.



One Response

  1. your best cartoon of all time.

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