Summary: Jesus invites us to a great faith than one where we hang on to the sides of the boat for the storm to pass. He invites us to get out of the boat and walk on water.
Matthew 14:22-33 “Dieing to Live”
The story of Jesus walking on water is a familiar story to most of us. I first heard the story in Sunday School and I remember thinking to myself how neat it would be to be able to walk on water. I really wasn’t very interested in feeding a lot of people, or healing the sick, but walking on water was impressive.
As I have gotten older, I have found myself wondering about this odd, little story. Why did Jesus do what he did? Why did the gospel writers include this story in their accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry? Did Jesus walk on water because he saw that the disciples were in trouble and there was no boat near by? Was he trying to demonstrate to the disciples that he truly was the Messiah—God’s Son—because only God could walk on water?
The disciples certainly understood that what Jesus did was only something that God could do. At the end of this short story they worship him. There is more to this story, though, then a demonstration of Jesus’ divinity. It is a story that tells us how God moves in our lives and how God wants to move in our lives as Christians This is both a comforting and challenging story.
JESUS STILLS THE STORM
The disciples had had a long, hard day. They had worked with Jesus as he healed the sick and taught. They had been a part of feeding over 5,000 people. They were tired, and probably longed to relax around a campfire and get a good night’s sleep. They head off to the East side of the lake in order to make their camp. That’s when all hell breaks loose.
Their trip across the lake should have only taken a few hours. Instead they battled the wind and the waves all night long—so much for a good night’s sleep. Not only were they tired, but their whole world seemed to be collapsing around them and their lives appeared to be in danger. Have you ever had one of those days?
There are those times when we are either hanging on to the rails of the boat, being tossed by the wind and waves of life. Or, we’re rowing hard against the wind expending a lot of energy, but feeling like we are getting nowhere. We wonder what we have done to deserve what we are experiencing, and we wonder where Jesus is.
Jesus comes to us in those situations, like he did to the disciples. He saw their need. Jesus acted to meet their need. He stilled the storm and brought them safely to the shore. The lesson is there for both the disciples and for us--Jesus doesn’t forsake us, but rescues us and sees us safely to the shore.
I think, however, that most of us want our religion (our faith) to be more than a crutch that helps us get through life. There’s a little bit of Peter in each and every one of us. We want to walk on water. We want to do great things for God.
PETER WALKS ON WATER
Jesus approaches the disciples’ boat and when the disciples see him, they are afraid. Jesus tells them that they don’t need to fear. He isn’t a ghost. At this point, Peter makes a strange request. “Lord,” he says, “If it really is you, call me to you and let me walk on water.” He could have asked Jesus for a secret password, or he could have questioned Jesus about an event that occurred that day that would have proved Jesus was Jesus. Instead he wanted to walk on water.
Peter wanted to do great things for God, and he wanted to see God do great things. Peter wanted more out of life than to be a fisherman, or even to be a church leader. So, he asked Jesus to call him out of the boat. If we want to make an impact on others and leave a legacy to God’s glory, then we, like Peter, will need to get out of the boat. There are a few things we need to know before we take that first step.
• Others will think we’re crazy. The eleven disciples stayed in the boat and muttered to each other, “Is he crazy?”
• The storm won’t stop before we take the step. Getting out of the boat is scary. We have to face our doubts and fears. Recently, I heard a saying that speaks to this, “Jesus didn’t come to make us comfortable, he came to make us brave.”
• With God all things are possible. Peter walked on water. We can accomplish things for God beyond our imagination.
• There are times when we will take our eyes off Jesus and we will sink.