Summary: If we want to walk on water, we have to get out of the boat.
Taking The First Step
Text: Matthew 14:22-33
1. Read Matt. 14:22-33
2. Illustration: The physics professor had just finished his lecture about the pendulum, wherein he had shown the mathematical proof that an untouched pendulum will always swing in ever-decreasing arcs.
He then asked for a volunteer to demonstrate this fact by standing against a wall with a pendulum bob against his chin, then releasing the bob and allowing the pendulum to swing naturally through its arc. The professor reminded the class that the bob would return to, but not quite touching, the chin. No one volunteered. Although the science students “believed” that this law was true, they were unwilling to put it to the test.
How like many of us in our relationship with God! We know the facts, but are unwilling to risk a step of faith based on them.
3. Many Christians talk about faith, but there are more talking about then acting upon it.
Proposition: If we want to walk on water, we have to get out of the boat.
I. Taking a Step of Faith Requires Overcoming Your Fears (22-27)
A. Be Not Afraid
1. Jesus went up into the hills by himself to pray.
a. During his ministry on earth, Jesus was in constant contact with the Father--
b. He may have gone off alone to pray often, so his desire to do so may not have surprised the disciples, who departed in the boat as instructed.
2. The disciples had left sometime before sunset, so by the time night fell, they were far away from land. They got into trouble, however, facing strong wind and heavy waves.
a. The word "tossed" means to be tossed about with great force—Practical Word Studies in the New Testament
b. In this Scripture, it is a picture of being completely at the mercy of a force greater than any possible human resistance.
3. The storm arose while the disciples were working. They were doing exactly what Christ had told them to do, but the storm still came.
a. How true of life: storms come upon the just as well as upon the unjust (Matthew 5:45).
b. Even when we obey the Lord the storms of life can come our way, but he has promised that he will never leave us or forsake us.
4. Notice that Jesus did not come to them immediately because Matthew tells us that "in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them..."
a. Jesus didn’t come to them immediately because he wanted to teach them something (Horton, Complete Biblical Library, 307).
b. He needed to teach them to trust Him and to obey His command no matter what happened to them.
c. They were doing what He had told them to do, so they could trust His care and His will.
5. Next, Matthew tells us that when they saw Jesus "they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear."
a. From evening until about three o’clock in the morning, the disciples had been out on the sea, much of that time fighting a strong headwind and high waves. Jesus came to them, walking on the water.
b. Suddenly, in the predawn mist, Jesus came walking toward them on the water. They reacted in terror, imagining that they were seeing a ghost.
6. Jesus called out to them saying "Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid."
a. The literal reading for "it is I" is "I am"; it is the same as saying "the I AM is here."
b. Jesus, the great "I AM," came with unexpected help and encouragement during the disciples’ time of desperate need.
c. Their need was real; their fear was real. But in the presence of Jesus, fear can be dismissed.
B. Perfect Love
1. A young couple, very much in love, were getting married in church. However, Sue the wife was very nervous about the big occasion and so the minister chose one verse that he felt would be a great encouragement to them.
The verse was 1 Jn 4:18 which says:
“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” ( Jn 4:18)
Rather unwisely, the minister asked the best man to read it out and to say that the minister had felt that this was a very apt verse for Sue and that he would be preaching on it later in the service.
However the best man was not a regular churchgoer. And so he did not know the difference between John’s Gospel and the first letter of John.
So he introduced his reading by saying that the minister felt was a very apt verse for Sue. But he read John 4:18, which says “You have five husbands and the one that you now have is not your husband.”