Summary: Distraction prohibits us from learning to know God better. Reach for Jesus when the waves engross you.

Baseball fans all know the late Yogi Berra (; the legendary catcher for the New York Yankees in the 50’s. He had an amazing career at the plate, offensively and defensively. Some consider him the greatest catcher in the history of baseball; his lifetime batting average of .285 and great defensive skills got him inducted into the Baseball HOF in 1972. Yet, as good a hitter as he was, Yogi’s peers remember him more for his endless chatter during the game—particularly behind the plate, where he talked to the opposing batters in order to distract them.

Hank Aaron, another HOF’er tells the story about the 1958 World Series, with Yogi behind the plate, and Hank, the chief power hitter for the Milwaukee Braves up to bat. As usual Yogi was keeping up his ceaseless chatter, intended to motivate his teammates and distract Milwaukee’s batters.

As Aaron came to the plate, Yogi tried to distract him by saying, "Henry, you're holding the bat wrong. You're supposed to hold it so you can read the trademark." Aaron responded by driving the next pitch into the left-field bleachers. After rounding the bases and crossing home plate, Aaron looked at Berra and said, "I came to hit, not to read."

Yogi knew something about people. He knew that if he could distract a batter for even a moment, he could break their concentration and cause them to fail. Distraction brought doubt into a hitter’s mind, and there was no one better at that than Yogi. It simply didn’t work on Hank Aaron! OYBT Mt. 14


1. Our emphasis this morning may surprise you, given the text from Matthew’s Gospel. Reflections on this passage frequently address:

A. God’s care for us when difficulties arise

B. The importance of faith in the midst of a storm

C. Peter’s lack of faith when it really counted

2. I see something else: the debilitating effects of distraction in the life of the believer.

[Distraction prohibits us from learning to know God better. Reach for Jesus when the waves engross you.]

II. EXEGESIS (Mt. 14:22-33)

1. Matthew, Mark and John follow the feeding of the five thousand with the story of Jesus walking on the water. Matthew adds, as the others do not, the story of Peter’s success and failure in attempting to do the same thing.

2. John’s account tells us that some of the people present at the feeding of the five thousand were so impressed that they tried to make Jesus king (Jn. 6:15). This may explain Jesus’ sending the disciples to the other side of the lake while he dismisses the crowd.

A. When the crowd disbands, he goes up on a mountainside by himself to pray (remember the solitude he sought before the crowds overwhelmed him?).

3. Meanwhile, the Disciples’ boat is far from shore, tossed by the waves of a heavy head wind. As we business travelers say, they are “having weather” on the lake.

A. It’s now the fourth watch of the night (3a-6a). The disciples launched the boat immediately after the feeding of the five thousand (late afternoon/evening), and this suggests that they’ve been fighting this weather for several hours.

4. Suddenly, Jesus comes to them, walking on the water. The disciples see him and are stricken with fear, certain they see a ghost. After all, how else could they explain what they were seeing—no mortal could do what Jesus was doing!

A. Immediately, Jesus comforts them saying “Take courage! It is I, don’t be afraid”. Peter responds, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water”, and Jesus says, “Come”.

B. Peter steps out of the boat and walks toward Jesus. Things are going well till he sees the effects of the boisterous wind. Suddenly it occurs to him that to be on the water in a storm like this, and out of the boat, is a risky proposition.

C. The result of Peter’s BFO (blinding flash of the obvious) is fear. Peter is distracted by the storm and fears for his life.

D. As he begins to sink he cries out to Jesus, who reaches for him and takes his hand. As he does, he says to Peter, “Man of little faith, why did you doubt?”

5. Some suggest that Peter lost faith; I prayerfully disagree. Jesus refers to him as a man of little faith, not a man without faith. Jesus answers his own question; Peter panicks because his faith was not yet mature. The wind distracted him; and doubt replaced trust.

[Distraction prohibits us from learning to know God better. Reach for Jesus when the waves engross you.]


1. In this brief account, Jesus deals with distraction in three separate events, which tells us something of the power of distraction:

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