Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Thoughts about Water Walking

Matthew 14:22-33

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake. But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’

Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’

I'm working on a sermon based on the scripture above.  In order to get my thoughts in order, I wrote them down in a list:
  1. I’ve never noticed before that the incident occurs between 3am and 6am. The darkest part of night right before dawn. The light would have come from the moon. Imagine darkness before electricity – how dark it would have been. No wonder they didn’t recognize him – it’s a wonder they saw him at all.
  2. He makes the disciples leave. William Barclay says that John (in his Gospel) explains that the crowd is trying to make Jesus a king, and he has to dispel this – the disciples might have gone along with it.
  3. After everyone is gone, he goes up on a mountain to pray. Alone. The chapter begins with the death of John the Baptist’s death.    Jesus tries to retreat for prayer, perhaps in response to the news.  This time alone was probably interrupted by the feeding of the 5000.
  4. While he’s praying, the boat is far from land, in a storm.
  5. He comes to them on the water (maybe?). He tells them to not be afraid, “It is I.” This translates as “I am.” Not only is he saying, “It’s me, Jesus, your teacher and friend, but he is also saying, "It’s me, God." Whichever way you hear it, he is telling them to not be afraid. Trust him.
  6. What about the phrase, “Take heart.” What does that mean? What is heart? Is it courage? Take courage from me?
  7. When they are in danger, physically, from the storm, Jesus comes to them. In the middle of this storm, when they are far from safety, when their lives are in danger, he tells them to not be afraid. “Do not be afraid, I am with you.”
Continued tomorrow...



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