Summary: Jesus had a perfect relationship with his heavenly father. We can learn lessons from Peter and we can encourage each other to have a time and a place (like Jesus) for quiet prayer & solitude, with God.
Verse 32, “…when they climbed into the boat the wind died down.” In other words with Jesus on board there was peace and calm.
When Jesus and Peter climbed on board, and when the wind died down, the disciples must have been reminded of that previous occasion when Jesus calmed a storm (Matthew 8:23-27). During that earlier event Jesus “got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm” (Mt 8:26).
The lovely thing about tonight’s bible reading is that it says so much about the life of faith in God.
It’s good to remember that the author Matthew was a Jew writing in particular to demonstrate to other Jews that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, the promised one, the long-awaited servant of God.
Now although Matthew was addressing Jews, the events in the life of Jesus also speak to us today; and the reactions of the disciples to Jesus speak to us too.
So what do we learn from this bible reading?
1. First of all it tells us something about Jesus. If you happen to like using words which 99% of the population never use in normal conversation, this bible reading does a bit of ‘Christology’ (what sort of Christ is he?) It tells us something about Jesus.
Verse 25: Jesus walked on the lake. Verse 32: When Jesus climbed into the boat, the wind died down. A faithful Jew hearing these words would think of the Jewish Bible (our O/T) where God is declared to be the one who calms the waters, and God is the only one who can tread upon the sea: Psalm 89:9, “You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them;” and Job 9:8, “He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea.”
Jesus treads upon the water and stills the waves. In other words Matthew affirms that Jesus is God.
2. Our bible reading tells us something about the faith of a disciple: the one called ‘the rock’, Peter! Whilst the other disciples are cowering together because they think they’ve seen a ghost (verse 26) Peter hears the call of Jesus, he answers the call of Jesus, and he gets stuck in!
It seems to me that unlike the reflective faith of people like me, Peter is prepared to just ‘have a go’. He gets stuck in; and like me, his faith was shaky. Unlike me, he is quick to get out of the boat (verse 29), but rather like me when he saw the wind (verse 29) he become fearful and began to sink. How about you?
3. This piece of scripture helps us to know that Jesus had a great prayer life. He knew the intimacy of a perfect relationship with ‘abba’, his father.
My colleague and friend, Rev David Snuggs, spent three weeks in Israel recently and he was deeply affected by hearing young Hebrew voices calling out, “abba!” One young lad was really excited about showing something to his dad: “abba, abba!” At the beach a boy was struggling in the water and he called out to his dad, “abba, abba!” On another occasion a different Dad, abba, had lost his children and he (abba) was searching for them. These events had a profound impact upon David and upon his understanding of the fact that we are Abba’s children.
Jesus had a perfect relationship with his heavenly father, and a great life of prayer, even though it was regularly interrupted:
(Matthew 14:13-14) Jesus withdrew to a solitary place. Quiet time with his father was a priority, but the crowds found him. He needed time alone with his father, but he had compassion on the crowd!
Often when I close my door for prayer, my 3 year old daughter finds me. A little hand knocks on the door; she trots in and wants me to read her a book, or do a jigsaw, or just to sit on my knee and tell me about the spider’s web she’s scared of! At that moment I have a decision to make: send her away because it’s time for Daddy to pray, or realise that this is all part of life.
Jesus had a great life of prayer. I know that in comparison to Jesus I do not; but I do want to become more like Jesus. I do want to be changed.
Do you ever feel like your prayer-life is being blown all over the place? Do you sometimes feel that your life of prayer is being regularly interrupted? Is your time alone with God either non-existent, or deteriorating, or in danger of sinking in the midst of the storms of life? Do you hear other Christians talking about prayer (especially preachers!) and think, “I wish I could pray like him, or like her”?