Summary: A sermon about the importance of keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus.

Matthew 14:22-36

“Walking and Swimming”

By: Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN

This morning we talked about the feeding of the 5,000 which happened right before our Gospel Lesson for this evening.

And it is probably safe to say that after His day of healing and feeding, Jesus was tired.

He’d also been mourning the death of His cousin John the Baptist.

So, Jesus sends the disciples on ahead of Him in a boat while He heads on up a mountainside to pray.

And somewhere in the wee hours of the morning-between 3 am and 6 am- Jesus decides to go catch up with the disciples.

And Jesus does something so God-like, Jesus walks on water.

Meanwhile, the disciples were having a rough time of it.

The wind had been against them all night, so they had been rowing hard for hours.

Now, they were wet, hungry and weary.

And that’s when they spot Jesus!

And they were “terrified”!

“It’s a ghost.’ They said, and cried out in fear.”

That’s when Jesus speaks and we are told that it is immediately, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

What an awesome Word from our Lord.

Isn’t this exactly what this world…what all of us need to hear?

“Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

So many folks are so frightened today.

So many people feel they are in way over their heads, and their pulses are racing, their blood pressure is rising, their health is affected and their joy is sapped because of it!!!

We’ve got plant managers struggling to make payroll in a down economy…

…parents with rebellious teenagers…

…elderly folks trying to pay hospital bills out of tiny pension checks…

…marriages trying to survive…

Modern life can be like a deep and stormy season that threatens to swallow us whole!


We all need to hear the Words of Christ over and over again: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

After Christ speaks, Peter of course, is the one to respond first.

“Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.”

Peter is such an awesome guy.

He would be so much fun to be around.

He’s ready for anything.

He’s impulsive.

He takes risks.

He acts first and thinks later.

He see’s Jesus and he’s raring to go to Him—even if it means walking on water.

So Jesus tells Peter to “Come” out onto the water.

And “Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.”

How cool is that?

The rest of the disciples have a white-knuckled vise grip on the sides of the boat.

The storm, the waves, the dark, the wind, the uncertainty—they’re not about to move.

And yet, they had seen so much of Jesus’ power.

They had heard His teachings, they had watched Him heal people, they had just fed a crowd of approximately 20,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish that Jesus had blessed and broken.

On top of this, they were professional fishermen.

They certainly wouldn’t have been afraid of the water.

Let’s think about this though, are we more like Peter who ventured out toward Jesus without a moment’s hesitation or are we more like the disciples who stayed in the boat?

And what about the world?

Our world has learned so much, discovered so much, invented so much, and yet it still lacks the power to do many of the things that really matter.

We have invented amazing machines for making war, but nobody has found one that will make peace.

We can put a person on the moon, but we can’t put food in hungry stomachs.

We can listen to the songs of the whales singing on the ocean floor, but we can’t hear the crying of human souls on the next street down.

And much of our world knows at least a little bit about Jesus.

Some find Him frightening.

Others wish He’d go away and leave us alone.

And even many who believe in Him, like the disciples did, don’t know what to do with Him.

But sometimes, there are those who get the idea that it would be good to copy Him.

And some of us set off with the aim of doing just that: to bring Jesus’ love and power, Jesus’ peace and hope to a lost, frightened and needy world.

And so we start walking out to Jesus!

We see Him on the water, bidding us to come to Him.

But then we let our eyes drop for a moment to the waves with the darkness and the howling wind.

And we suddenly feel as if we are just one person trying to fight against the all the elements.

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