Summary: What should be the appropriate response of human beings when God reveals Himself?
HUMAN RESPONSE TO DIVINE SELF – REVELATION
There used to be a man who had the passion to see and experience God in an intimate way. He used to pray like this always: “Lord, please reveal yourself to me”. As he prayed like this, one night he saw a dream. In that dream he saw himself in a new city. He was traveling the length and breadth of that city, asking the people of that city about its shape, its beauty and glory. Different people were giving different opinions about that city. While he was confused and thinking about this, he saw a noble man approaching him. The noble man came to him and said, “I know you are confused. But if you really want to know the answer, do as I say. There is a very high mountain just outside the city. If you go there and can climb that mountain, then you can see the whole city for yourself and decide whether it is beautiful or not. But remember that climbing the mountain is very hard and risky and may even bring danger to your life.” After hearing these words the man went to the mountain and started climbing it with great difficulty. He reached the mountain-top after facing life-threatening situations. But when he reached the peak, he got a majestic, breath-taking and wonderful view of the city. The city was so beautiful. He responded with wonder and joy. At that time he heard a voice from above saying, “Now because you have seen the glory of this city, go and proclaim the truth about it.” When he came down the mountain, the noble man who guided him to this mountain again came to him and said, “Think about this vision and you will find answer to your prayers. You will understand how God reveals himself. You will also understand how to respond to that revelation”. Then the man’s dream stopped. We will come back to this man’s dream in the end. But, isn’t it true that many have the desire to know God and to experience His power and glory. How does God reveal himself to us or how does the Divine Self-Revelation come to us? What should be our response to this Divine Self-Revelation? Based on these questions, I want to entitle my sermon as
HUMAN RESPONSE TO DIVINE SELF-REVELATION
Let us seek for the answers from Matthew 14:22-33.
Context of the passage: Circumstances which led to the Divine Self-Revelation
Studying the context of the passage throws light on the circumstances which led to the Divine Self-Revelation. From 13:54 to 17:27 is a narrative section, which deals extensively with the question of the identity of Jesus.
In 13:54-58, we see Jesus being misunderstood by his own people. They see Him only as a carpenter’s son and nothing more (13:55). Following this narrative is another narrative concerning the death of John the Baptist from 14:1-12. Here we see Herod misunderstanding Jesus to be John the Baptist (14:1-2).
Jesus was in pain. He was facing the pain of rejection, of being misunderstood, of the death of his close associate, and of loneliness. Considering the situation of Jesus, it is not surprising that he wanted to withdraw to a deserted place by Himself. He wanted to be alone and pray (14:13). But the crowds did not allow Jesus to be alone. As the parallel passage in John 6:1-15 suggests, the crowd too misunderstood Jesus to be an earthly, political, and revolutionary King.
It is exactly in this context of a series of misunderstandings about Jesus that the passage for our present meditation comes. It is the context of crisis in the life of Jesus. It is a time when after all His miraculous works and wonderful teachings, Jesus is misunderstood and rejected.
What did Jesus do in this situation? He decided to reveal himself in a special way to the disciples. Verses 22 to 27 talk about this Divine Self-Revelation. We shall now see how this Self-Revelation was given.
1. DIVINE SELF-REVELATION (V. 22-27)
1.1. The Divine Self-Revelation starts with a divinely-imposed affliction (v. 22-26)
Matthew uses the word ‘hjnavgkasen’. It comes from the root word “ajnagkavzw”, which means to compel. In another words Jesus compelled His disciples to get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side. It is both important as well as interesting to note that the word “ajnagkavzw” in the LXX is used for divinely imposed afflictions such as persecution or sickness. By putting Jesus as the subject of the verb “ajnagkavzw”, i.e., by showing that Jesus does the same thing that only God does, Matthew has already begun to show the divinity of Jesus.
After sending away the disciples, Jesus sends away the crowd also and prays to the Father (verse 23). While Jesus was praying, the disciples were facing afflictions through the wind and the waves (verse 24).