OPEN: A Scotsman, was taking a trip to the Holy Land, and when he got to the Sea of Galilee he was aghast when he found it would cost fifty dollars an hour to rent a boat to go out on the water.
"Hoot mon," he said, "in Scotland I could ha got a boat for about $20."
"That might be true," said the boat man, "but you have to take into account that the Sea of Galilee is water on which our Lord Himself walked."
"Well, at $50 an hour," said the Scotsman, "it’s little wonder He walked."
APPLY: How much would you pay to walk where Jesus walked?
ILLUS: About 6 yrs ago, someone built a 262 ft. long transparent bridge just below the surface of the Sea of Galilee so that visitors - for a nominal cost - could walk on the water… kinda like Jesus did (based on an article in Time magazine Feb. 22, 99 p. 26)
What would you do if you had the chance to walk where Jesus walked?
Our story today tells about a man who got that opportunity.
He didn’t have to pay $50 for a boat ride.
He didn’t have to pay a nominal fee to walk out on a transparent bridge.
He was out on the sea because Jesus sent Him there, and he got to walk on the water because Jesus called for him to do so.
And he didn’t have to pay a dime for the privilege
Well, actually, there was a price Peter had to pay.
Earlier, in the 4th chapter of Matthew - Jesus challenged him (and the others) with this statement: “Follow me, and I will MAKE you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19
There was a price that Peter (and the other disciples) had to pay for their experiences. They had to allow Jesus to MAKE them into the kind of men He wanted them to be.
Now, generally – when people think about being fishermen
* they think lures and bait and fishing line and what kind of pole you need
* they think about technique
* and they think location - what part of the lake or river has the most fish
But good fishermen actually need something more.
They need the right attitude
All the technique and knowledge and gadgets will do no good if the person doesn’t have the right attitude.
Now I, for example, don’t have the right attitude to be good fisherman. I don’t have what it takes to patiently sit in a boat or stand on the shore, or walk around in the water for hours on end waiting for a fish to take the bait.
If I want to catch a fish I’ll take my wife down to grocery store, stand in the frozen food section and have her throw me a package of fish.
I don’t have what it takes to be a fisherman.
I don’t have the patience… the desire… the need to go fishing.
I just don’t have the right attitude to be a good fisherman.
Peter, James and John – were fisherman. They had plied their trade on the very sea that they saw Jesus walk on the water. But they were not yet the kind of fishermen Jesus wanted them to be. They didn’t yet have the attitude necessary to become what Jesus wanted them to be.
They lacked was the right attitude. The attitude they lacked was that of faith the Jesus wanted to build into their lives. And here on the sea of Galilee Jesus is going to teach them a lesson designed to create that very kind of faith in their lives.
Last week, we read about the feeding of the 5000.
Jesus had been teaching all day and now the crowd was hungry. So He told Philip that THEY (the disciples) should feed the crowd.
Of course, they didn’t have enough food, nor the money to buy enough food, to feed all these people. But the Gospel of John tells us that Jesus “asked this only to test (Philip), for He already had in mind what he was going to do.” John 6:6
It was a test.
Jesus’ intention (in that test) was to stretch their faith in what He could do.
BUT now, comes an even bigger lesson. And like every good teacher, Jesus sets the stage for what He wants His students to understand.
Notice: Matthew 14:22 says that “Jesus MADE the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side...”
In other words: the disciples were on the sea of Galilee because that’s where Jesus wanted them. They faced the storm on the water because that’s where Jesus sent them.
They didn’t just HAPPEN to be on the sea when Jesus walked out to them. They were there because Jesus intended to teach them a vital lesson in faith.
And this wasn’t just any old test.
Think about it: Where had Jesus been just before He walked out to them? (on the Mountain praying).
Many of the times that Jesus spent a considerable amount of time in prayer, it was in preparation for a monumental event. For example, the night before Jesus selected His 12 apostles He had spent the entire night in prayer.
Here in Matthew 14 we’re told that Jesus had begun praying ever since He had sent His disciples out in their boat. That was in the early evening – perhaps slightly before dark. By the time Jesus walks out on the water, it’s the 4th watch of the night. That’s some time after 3 in the morning. Thus, His disciples had been out on the sea for over 6 hours, and all that time Jesus had been praying… preparing for this very moment… this very lesson.
The lesson begins as Jesus walks out on the water to their boat.
The Gospel of Mark tell us Jesus “saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to PASS BY THEM.” Mark 6:48
What? That doesn’t seem to make sense.
Why would He walk on the water in such a way as to give them they impression that He was simply going to walk on past them?
In my mind’s eye, I can see Jesus walking along like this was a casual stroll in the park. It would seem so effortless for Him. But in walking out to them (or actually looking as though He intended to walk right on by them) He had a specific goal in mind: He wanted them to be shocked. He wanted to shake them up. And He wanted them feel those sensations before He even spoke.
Notice, when the disciples see Him, they cry out in fear. But Jesus didn’t call to them as He approached.
Look again at Matthew 14:26-27
“When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’"
Did you catch that? It’s only after they’ve seen Him - and they register their shock - that He speaks. His intention was to shock them. To shake them up. And He did this because He wanted to make them look at Him in a new way.
For weeks, they’ve watched as Jesus healed large numbers of people, and even raising a little girl from the dead. Then, they shared in the miracle where Jesus fed 1000s with only 5 loaves and 2 fish. These were miraculous events.
But to the Jewish mind, any old prophet could have done those things.
For example God told Elijah to go to the home of a widow from Zarephath. But when he arrived and asked for some food, she explained that she only had a little oil and a little food in her jars… and she was going home to make a small cake of bread for herself and her son… and then they were going to die. Elijah told her to go ahead as she planned – but first make a small cake of food for his needs. Because of her sacrifice, God supplied food and oil for her for the rest of Elijah’s stay there.
Then, a little later, the son of that widow died. Elijah prayed heavily for that boy and even threw himself over the boy’s body three times. And that boy was raised from the dead.
So, you see, any old prophet could supply food as the need arose. And any old prophet could even raise someone from the dead.
But now - this walking on the water thing - well that’s a little different.
Only ghosts were supposed to be able to do those things. Only other worldly beings could glide across the waves like it was solid ground. Mere Mortals weren’t supposed to be able to do things like that.
Now, here’s what I want you to see.
Jesus has been gradually intensifying the level of His disciples’ education.
He started out real soft and gentle, and kept turning up the volume with each new lesson He taught them. It was if He was building one experience upon another. And that makes sense. If Jesus had walked out on the water when He first recruited His disciples… they would have scattered to the four winds and never come back.
It was only after they’d seen and experienced everything else that had gone before that they were ready for this challenge. It was only after He had built up a relationship with them and given them an opportunity to see His power in a non-threatening way.
And that’s how God works with us. He gently draws us into deeper and deeper walks of faith.
In the KJV, 2 Corinthians 3:18 says “we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
The Revised Standard Version of that verse tells us that we are “…changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another” 2 Corinthians 3:18
You see, it’s like we’re climbing a set of stairs (I stepped down on the main floor). We all start out on the same level.
We believe in Jesus Christ.
We repent of our sins.
We make the decision to make Jesus the Lord and Savior of our lives.
And we’re baptized for the forgiveness of our sins and risen up to a new life.
But then God starts remaking us in His image.
We take one step up the stair case… and then another.
And the further up we go, the more “changed into His image” we become.
Now, that means that lots of people are going to be on different levels of maturity. Some are going further up and down the staircase than you are.
Now, here’s my point:
· I’ve heard people talk about others who’ve not reached their level of spirituality.
· I’ve listened as they’ve almost looked down on others who struggle in their faith.
· Or been almost disdainful of those who “just don’t get it”.
We’ve got realize that not everybody is on the same level in their relationship with Jesus. Some have only come up the stairs a few steps and others have been privileged to have gone a great distance in their faith.
Our objective as Christians is not to segregate ourselves from those who aren’t on our level, but instead to find ways of gently reaching down and helping them in their struggles.
That’s why Paul wrote that we should “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2
Jesus spend an entire night in prayer before He gave this object lesson to these men. He cared about them so much that He prayed for hours before He tried to move them further along on their spiritual journey. Thus, until we care enough to pray for someone to pray for hours on their behalf… we should never let ourselves look down on them.
Now here we have Jesus – coming up to the disciples’ boat - walking on the water.
They see His unearthly behavior and respond in fear.
Jesus then tells them not to fear and assures them that it is He.
So who speaks up next? (Peter)
And what does want? ("Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water." Matthew 14:28)
I’m inclined to believe that Peter didn’t say this all on his own.
Remember Jesus has been praying about this all night long, and Peter’s response fits right into what Jesus has wanted to teach them.
So, I believe God prompted Peter to say what he said.
And it wouldn’t have been that hard anyway… Peter’s always seems to open his mouth long before his mind gets into gear.
So Peter asks to come out to Jesus, and Jesus tells him to come on out.
And Peter steps out of the boat, and I can visualize the first thought that comes into Peter’s mind: THIS IS COOL!
He’s never experienced anything like this!
He’s walking by faith… He’s stepped out of the boat and he’s walking on water.
It’s like a teenager going to an amusement park for the 1st time and getting on a roller coaster.
It’s a thrilling experience… up until the time when they get to that first big hill, or that first loop-d-loop… then it gets frightening.
But here’s the lesson:
You cannot grow in your faith, by just sitting in your seat and watching.
Sooner or later, you’ve got out of the boat.
James says it this way: “… faith without works is dead” James 2:20
You’re not going to go anywhere in your faith until you do something that gets you out of on the water.
If all you do is come to church and sit in a pew… if you’re simply satisfied with being an spectator and not a doer for God… you’ll never know the thrill of what God can do in your life.
You simply have to get out of the boat and get your feet wet.
Now, granted, Peter lost sight of Jesus.
He got distracted by the wind and the waves and he began to sink in his doubt.
And Jesus rebuked him for faltering in his faith…
But NONE of the other disciples even got out of the boat.
NONE of the other disciples ever knew what it was like to feel this power of Jesus in their lives.
NONE of the other disciples felt what it was like for Jesus to reach down into their lives and take them by the hand and pull them up.
Why? Because they never got out of the boat!!!
Just think of what they missed.
Now, you might say “But Peter might have drowned!”
“Nah! – Peter was NEVER in danger. Jesus was always there with him.”
Jesus had never left his side.
And Jesus wasn’t going to let him drown.
But because he was willing to step out on faith he (and the other disciples) learned something valuable about Jesus.
Look at Matthew 14:32-33
“And 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.’"
Did you catch that?
This is what Jesus wanted His disciples to understand.
And the lesson was so well engrained that night in the boat, that several days later, the message still reverberated in them.
Two chapters later, in Matthew 16, we find Jesus asking His disciples who men said that He was. “They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’
‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’
Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, (catch this) THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD.’” Matthew 16:15-16
When people come forward to be baptized into Christ we’ll often ask them to repeat that “Good confession”
“I Believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God.”
You have to believe that to be saved. You cannot become a Christian until you intellectually understand that Jesus is the Son of God.
But even after we’re saved… even after we’ve been to church for years… there comes an “Aha!” moment. A time when we suddenly realize the impact of those words
A time when we begin to fully understand that Jesus IS the Christ. That He IS the Son of the Living God. And those times seem to only come after we’ve been willing to step out of the boat an d put our faith into action.