WALKING, SINKING, RISING
Everlasting God, sometimes I feel torn between where I’ve been and where I’m going. Show me the way, I pray.
Read Matthew 14:22–36
Jesus Walks on the Water
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.’1
Jesus retreats again to a solitary place on the mountainside, whereas the disciples are found on the lake. The image of Jesus praying while his followers are battling the wind should bring us comfort. How conscious of his intercession are you today? Robert Murray M’Cheyne, a nineteenth-century Scottish minister, said, ‘If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet the distance makes no difference; he is praying for me!’
Leaving the mountainside, Jesus makes his way to the boat by walking on the water. The disciples are afraid of the figure walking towards them. Having identified himself, Jesus speaks the oft-repeated command in Scripture, ‘Don’t be afraid’ (v 27). You may be battling in a storm today. May I encourage you to take your gaze off the storm and fix it instead on the one who comes to join you in the battle, speaking courage.
Peter’s response to the arrival of Jesus is referenced by biblical commentators with words such as hasty, impulsive, failed, and rash. I understand, but I can’t help regarding this as somewhat harsh. Do we have the courage to jump out of the boat and respond to such an invitation from Christ? Let’s not forget that for a while Peter did actually walk on water!2 Peter’s reaction when his focus shifted from the person whom he walked towards to the storm around him, is to cry out to Jesus to save him. Graciously, Peter was able to testify with the psalmist, ‘When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.’3 Know today that when you cry to your advocate for rescue, his arm reaches into the depths.
Still my anxious thoughts. May I know the depths of your unfailing love today.
Lord Jesus, how wonderful it is to know that you are for me and not against me. When I am struggling and reach out to you, you are already reaching out to me. Thank you Lord.
1 Heb 7:25 2 See further, John Ortberg, If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat, Zondervan, 2009 3 Ps 94:18,19
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