Jn.6:20 – But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.”
Several times in the gospels Jesus uses the phrase “I am”. Of course this immediately reminds us of Moses and the burning bush. It is a direct and obvious claim to deity; Christ is saying in essence,“I am the Lord”. The context of the statement is Jesus walking on water and calming the sea. This reminds me of religious people jumping to wrong conclusions. You know what I mean, anytime something supernatural actually happens somebody is going to say “that must be the devil”. Speaking in tongues – that is the devil. Casting out demons – that must be the devil too. People falling under the power – that too must be demonic. I suppose the problem is when you encounter supernatural power for the first time fear often gets the best of folks and the devil gets all the blame or you could say all the credit. Here is how Abbott describes this event:
“It is I; be not afraid. This is the gospel message of peace, on the ground—the simple ground—“It is I.” Christ’s presence is peace to the soul.—Jacobus. How often has he to speak this word of encouragement, even to his own! almost always when they are brought suddenly, or in an unusual way, face to face with him! It is I. Literally, I am. The same language used by Jesus in Jerusalem (John 8:58), for which the Pharisees would have stoned him, and in the Old Testament to designate Jehovah (Exodus 3:14). Here I should prefer to give it this meaning: Christ says not merely, “It is I, your Friend and Master;” he says, at least implies, it is the “I AM,” who is coming to you, the Almighty One who rules wind and waves, who made them, and whom they obey.”
For the disciples, they were in new territory. Healing the sick and multiplying fish and bread were one thing, but walking on water and speaking to storms…… that was a little too far fetched. That’s why Jesus began to reassure them, “It is I” or better yet, “I am”. This was a night the disciples would never forget; this was changing their whole idea of who Jesus actually was. He was the great I am – their lives could never be the same.