Summary: A sermon for the 12 Sunday after Pentecost Proper 14 The story of Jesus and Peter walking on water
Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus the Christ amen
Many of you have heard the phrase, "I am only human" as a person is trying to explain why he/she has made some mistake, or did something wrong. Said in that kind of way, the phrase says something very negative about the condition of a human being. "I am only human" describes for many of us in our fallen state, the worst about a person. Or another phrase, "You cannot expect much from him/her, he/she in only human." we could go on and on, but you got the point. We can speak about the negative side of a person by talking about them as being all too human.
But did you know that in the Bible, when a person’s humanity is talked about, it is describing a person when he/she is coming closest to what God intended for us to be. God created us to be very human, to be different from the animals, to be special, to be unique, to be different. The human being were to be more like God, than like animals. Remember in Genesis 1:26 and following God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." So God created man in His own image, in the image of God he created him: male and female he created them." To be human in the Biblical sense is to be like God, to be human in the Biblical sense is to be living in the full image of God.
This morning I would like to apply both of these concepts of being human to Peter. For I think, that Peter fits our worldly concept of being human, that is the negative side the selfish side, the lower side of His being, but also he fits very well the Biblical image of being human, being in the likeness, in the image of God, being that person who lives as God intended for human beings to live.
Maybe a a tory that Charles Spurgeon’s told in one of his devotions can help to explain these two aspects of being human. "There was a king who upon occasion entertained all the beggars of the city. It was quite a sight. The king would be surrounded by his courtiers who were dressed in their finest apparel and at the same table would be the beggars in their rags. One day one of the courtiers soiled His silken garb so that he was embarrassed to wear it. In fact, he would not put it on and been seen in it. His heart was broken because he could not go to the feast with the king, and he sat and wept in disappointment until this idea struck His. Why not go as a beggar dressed in rags?
His fine silken garment was ruined, he could put on some rage and at least he would be present with the king for the feast. Determined to see the king’s face and sit at the king’s table, he entered the banquet as a beggar." Spurgeon ends the devotion with this sentence: "My soul has done this on many an occasion and I beg you do the same; if you cannot come as a saint, come as a sinner, only do come and you shall shall receive joy and peace."
Maybe another way to describe the two sides to the human condition is to say as Luther said, we ore both saint and sinner at the same time. Maybe that is the best way to describes Peter in our gospel lesson, he was both saint and sinner. Maybe that is the way we should describe us, both saint and sinner.
Let us first look at Peter as he was being a sinner, or less than what God created him to be, or as we night say it being all to human.
As the story goes, Jesus was in the hillside praying, when he noticed a storm coming up. He could see with each flash of lightening, that the disciples were having a difficult time keeping their boat afloat in the water. So Jesus decided the quickest way to help the disciples was to walk across the water.
And here we see the first evidence of the disciples and Peter of their lack of trust, lack of faith, being all too human and not being in the image of God, for they cried out, "It is a ghost. They cried out in fear."
They had just been listening to Jesus preach concerning His love for them, they had just witnessed, had come from the meal where Jesus feed 5000 with a few fish and a few loaves of bread, and they could not believe that Jesus could walk on the water. There was no evidence in the text, that they even prayed to Him during this time of trouble and when he comes on his own accord, they didn’t recognize Him, they were afraid. Then Peter asks Jesus if he could come to Him walking on the water.