Summary: Life is not about playing it safe, nor is the Christian faith. Faith requires that we take risk, just like Peter took a risk stepping out of the boat.
Many of you might remember the Lethal Weapons movies of a few years back. In these movies there was a good safe cop who did things conservatively, by the book, who wasn’t in to taking unnecessary risks. Then there was the character played by Mel Gibson who was always taking risks. He would jump off of buildings, fight anyone, and do just about anything that involved taking a risk.
Interestingly enough, later Mel Gibson would take a risk of his own. He would risk his own money, his reputation and his status in Hollywood in an attempt to make a film portraying the Passion of the Crucifixion of Christ. Many people warned him not to do it and the nay-sayers warned him that it would fail and it would cost him dearly. No company would pick up and finance the film, so out of his own money, Mel Gibson made his movie. Folks said he was crazy for doing it, but this was something that he felt God was calling him to do, so he put it all on the line, risking a great deal to be faithful to something he felt God was calling him to do. He took a risk, and he has been rewarded for it.
Maybe this morning God is asking you to take a risk. Now it may surprise you, but God does want you to take certain risk. In fact, Not only does He want it, He demands it. In the parable of the talents, the person who was given one talent did nothing with theirs but hid it out of fear, and Jesus said that the master came back and called him a wicked and lazy servant for not taking a risk with it. Lazy we can understand, but wicked?
God has entrusted us with so much and has given us so much, we can’t just sit on it…He expects us to take certain risk for Him. Zig Ziglar once said that it is risky for a plane to take off, but that is what planes are meant to do, and it’s even riskier for a plane to sit on the ground and rust. It’s risky for us Christians to step out of our comfort zones and attempt the impossible for God, but that’s what we are called to do.
We call it stepping out on faith. Now maybe that is easy for you. By nature you are a risk taker, but many of you fall into the category of safety seekers, and that is good, but God calls us on occasion, to step out of our safety zone and take a calculated risk of faith. And maybe after today, you will take that risk in your life.
In our text, we see it had already been a grueling day. The disciples had been ministering all day and were exhausted. They had just witnessed a miracle where Jesus fed 5,000 people with only 5 loafs of bread and 2 fish, and no doubt it was a day of highs and now as the day came to a close, Jesus sends the disciples away to the other side of the shore as He goes to pray.
Now what was supposed to be a simple trip ends up taking longer then they expected. Now I’ve been known to get lost on occasion and when a trip is supposed to only take a few hours ends up taking about 6 hours you start to get a little feisty and irritated, especially if you had already had a long day.
During the fourth watch of the night, between 3 and 6 a.m Jesus began to make His way to the disciples. Now remember, they had been traveling between 9 and 12 hours for what should have been a short trip. The wind was blowing hard against their boat. Their lives weren’t in danger, but they had been blown off course and were probably frustrated, tired, and irritable.
Matt 14:25-26 says that, “During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. (Now imagine the scene, the wind is blowing, its dark, and the disciples are struggling to get their boat to go and they look and they see a figure taking a casual stroll on the water. Now how did they react to this? Verse 26 says, “When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified.”It’s a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear.”
I can’t be too hard on them because If I thought I saw a ghost I’d be scared as well. One Saturday night I came into the church at Longview UMC to practice my sermon, and a church can be a scary place at night when its all dark and you’re alone. I didn’t think anyone else would come in, and I’m preaching then I think I see someone at of the corner of my eye, and so I look and there is Francis Walker standing right there! I started to scream like a little school girl! Now, its not that she’s scary mind you, but it was unexpected. So when I hear the disciples were afraid, I might have been scared as well.