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  • Writer's picturePastor Elaine

Aug 13th, 2023 “Jesus walks on water & Peter tries to!“

Jesus walks on water & Peter tries to!

“May the words of my lips and the meditations of our hearts always be pleasing to you O God.”

Our Gospel story today is a story about what happens after - after the feeding of the 5000 - after Jesus sent the disciples on ahead so that he can withdraw to pray. This is a story about what happens after Jesus prays. Jesus was not praying during the storm - but before it!

It is also a story about fear. The fear of the disciples and of Peter is palpable. They are afraid of the storm, they are afraid of what they see in the storm as Jesus walks toward them and Peter is afraid of the wind and his fear causes him to sink.

It is also a story of deep faithfulness. Matthew wants his readers to know that Jesus is faithful and constant. That Jesus does not abandon his disciples. Jesus does not abandon us. Matthew wants his readers to know that our faith and hope are nothing compared to the faithfulness of God. So Matthew tells a story where Jesus reaches out his hands and grabs Peter’s arms - as he reaches out his hands and prevents us from sinking as we are wrapped in his embrace.

Do not be afraid - this is a keynote of the Gospel of Matthew.

Our text this morning is filled with vivid imagery and has provided comfort, encouragement and challenge to Christians over the generations. It is a text that is used to remind us that Jesus often calls us to go into uncharted waters, but when we go in faithfulness we are never alone. Jesus does not abandon us.

What images do we have and what do they reflect?

Jesus goes off alone to pray - we see the necessity for prayer - for Jesus and for us.

Jesus sends out the disciples on a mission - as we too are sent.

There are choppy seas - Jesus does not abandon the disciples and the message for us is that we too will not be abandoned.

Jesus comes when Jesus is needed most.

Jesus, ushering in the reign of God demonstrates power and can help us conquer our fears.

The disciples did not recognize Jesus when he came in a way that they did not expect. Do we recognize Jesus when he comes to us? How do we expect Jesus to show up for us?

Jesus calms the seas, stops the storm - the message is that Jesus can calm our troubled waters as well.

And how does the story end? The disciples come from a place of deep fear to a place of worship and confession.

This story has given the disciples a new glimpse into who Jesus was. His identity is revealed in his faithfulness, his saving of Peter and his ability to calm the winds and the waves.

This is a story that is ultimately about Christ’s love and companionship when we need it the most.

Matthew’s Gospel is unique in the dialogue between Peter and Jesus and then Peter’s attempt to get out of the boat and walk on water. This is a story of discipleship. Peter was willing to get out of the boat. We are called to get out of the boat. Step out in faith - but remember there are no guarantees except that we will not be abandoned. We are not alone.

Matthew shows how Jesus comes to the disciples when they are in trouble and sustains them in their time of fear and doubt. Take heart - it is I. This is an invitation to courage - take heart. Courage is different than bravery - Peter tries to be brave as he steps out of the boat. Does Peter lack courage as well as faith?

A key to faith and faithfulness in a life in Christ is to follow Peter’s example and be willing to step out of comfort and security and go into the frightening unknown that is the world. We are called to step out into the world to proclaim the love, mercy and justice of God.

Jesus chides Peter for his faith - he calls it little faith. But Peter was the only one to get out of the boat. Peter’s action is important and it is huge. Peter trusted Jesus enough to take a risk and this action has an effect on the rest of the disciples - they move from fear to worship. Peter shows us that individuals who can risk boldly in moving toward the call of Jesus can make a difference in the lives of other believers. Whole communities of the faithful can be changed by the actions of individuals.

Peter had only a little faith. Maybe only a little faith is needed.



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