Summary: A sermon on how Jesus took the disciples across the lake in the midst of a storm, rescuing Peter from a certain sinking death.
August 7, 2005 Matthew 14:22-33
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 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.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 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.”
I noticed for the 1st time in preparation for today a very interesting word in this text. Immediately Jesus MADE the disciples get into the boat. This was not something that they were volunteering to do. Jesus shoved them in the boat and said, “go, get out of here.” We hear of no promises that He would meet up with them on the other side. He simply shoved them afloat, not allowing any argument on the matter, while He went off to pray. So as the disciples went off into this windstorm - in which the text says it was “against it” - blowing the opposite way that they needed to go - what do you imagine they were saying to themselves? “Couldn’t we have waited until tomorrow?” Matthew tells us that they continued against this contrary wind until the fourth watch. That was between three and six in the morning. They could have been out there for about 12 hours. Blindly they kept on rowing - wondering to themselves, “why did Jesus send us out here?”
This is in many ways a microcosm of life. We get in the boat. We start rowing. We have a destination in mind. Yet the wind constantly beats against us. The waves of life wear us out. We set our minds on children, retirement, vacations, and so many other things - but the winds of nature and the waves of life slow us down to a crawl. We get exhausted as we try to get to our destination. We end up in the middle of a lake that we would have much rather just walked around.
Think about it. In your wildest dreams, how many of you planned from childhood on being in the position you are in today? Did you think - when you were ten years old - that you would have ended up with in Topeka? Did you dream of working the same monotonous job - or of being President? None of us plan on having back problems. We don’t put in our agendas to live paycheck to paycheck. We don’t always plan on having children or getting married or many other things. This isn’t the way we planned it. But it’s not an accident either. In the back of our minds we realize that there are no accidents in life. Just as Jesus shoved the disciples into the middle of the lake, Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” We know in the end that God is in control. Like it or not - God put us here. God gave you your job. He gave you your spouse. He gave you your health. Even in our sin - He directs what happens - seemingly good or bad. The question is - “how do we get through the storm and get to the other side?”
How Can I Cross This Lake?
I. Paddle and Panic
Let’s keep in mind the first things first. Don’t give up. Keep on plugging away. Even though it was the fourth watch and the disciples were exhausted, they didn’t give up. But they were running out of juice doing what Jesus told them to do. As husbands, wives, parents, workers, and retirees, God calls on all of us to “do all that we do to the glory of God.” Those day to day chores get to be awfully difficult at times - as if nature itself were plowing against us with all it’s might. Keep plugging away.