Summary: God loves those sitting in the pews, but you’re denying yourself a more personal and profound relationship with Christ if you don’t get up and DO something. Take that leap of faith and grow closer to God than ever before.
Matthew 14:22-33 Jesus Walks on Water
Our Scripture this morning begins where last week’s ended. Jesus has fed the people, the disciples have gathered the leftovers, and now, Jesus makes it a solid point to dismiss the people who had gathered, and to also dismiss the disciples back across the lake. It is evening, and although navigation by the stars was common place, on this night those stars were not showing. There was a storm brewing as was very common on the Sea of Galilee. Just about the time the disciples get halfway home, the storm hits with all it’s fury. Must have been a powerful one, because it says the disciples were afraid, and these are hardened and experienced fishermen in the boat. Not some lily-livered weak kneed land lubbers. It was no caressing breeze, this was a gale. And then, bone tired and fearful for their lives, they look up and see SOMETHING in the foggy night. People simply don’t walk on water, so they figured it had to be something unusual. Their first guess is a ghost, and then they recognize Jesus. Still fearful, not completely believing their eyes, soaking wet and waiting for the boat to capsize, they try to make sense of the whole situation.
Do you ever wonder why Jesus would have sent the disciples out onto the lake in the first place? This was Jesus we’re talking about…He would certainly have known a storm was coming. He is the all-knowing, all-seeing Son of God. He commands the weather with just the sound of his voice. So why not just tell the disciples to spend the night on shore with Him? If he wanted to be alone, he certainly could have walked away from them and gone up into the hills. But He chose not to. It’s not the disciples choice; it is Jesus command for them to return to the other shore.
Jesus did not send the storm. Just as Jesus does not send the storms of life our way today. But Jesus knew what was coming, so why not spare the disciples all this fear and turmoil and danger?
Sometimes there are great revelations that come out of our storms. Let me tell you about a man named Tom White. In the 1970’s when America was full of protest marches and flower power, stories began coming out of Castro’s Cuba of terrible torture and imprisonment of Christians there. Castro’s government denied all the allegations, but refugees who made the dangerous crossing to Florida’s shores told another story. In the winter of 1972 Tom White arranged for a fishing boat to sail along Cuba’s coast and he and a few others dumped 50,000 watertight plastic packets into the sea to be washed ashore. The packets contained Spanish translations of the New Testament.
A year later Tom planned another similar boat ride, but the boat and captain became unavailable at the last minute. Tom found a Christian pilot who agreed to fly him over the island in the dead of night, and Tom dropped a hundred thousand more of the leaflets. If the story ended there it would still be good enough, but Tom’s life was about to take a drastic turn.
In December of 1973 Tom married, bought a home, and became a leader in his local church. Soon, he began to feel sick, grow weak and pale, and was unable to keep any kind of food down. The doctors confirmed stomach cancer, and Tom went through a long and difficult course of treatment. A little less than a year later, still too weak to walk by himself, Tom felt compelled to organize another air lift drop over Cuba. The leaflets were printed; the pilot was lined up, and Tom insisted on boarding the plane to help drop another load of Spanish New Testaments over Cuba.
Unfortunately another one of those severe storms at sea changed his plans. The pilot was forced to make an emergency landing in Cuba, and Tom and two others were arrested and thrown into prison. All of them were tortured, starved, and accused of being U.S. spies. Tom never took his eyes off Jesus, and could be heard throughout the day singing hymns and reciting Scripture during his confinement.
Seventeen months later, Tom and his friends were released and he returned to the United States. Tom would later tell of seeing a ghostly figure in his cell with him almost nightly. When Tom would feel himself slipping into the dark hole of unconsciousness, the figure would reach for his hand and forcibly pull Tom back up to the confines of his cell. His jailer would command Tom to stop “talking to himself” but Tom explained he was talking with his “cell-mate”, and praying to God for the jailer’s soul. The jailer would shake his head and walk away, but 17 months later, it was this jailer who opened Tom’s cell door and escorted him to freedom.