8th Sunday After Pentecost
Matthew 14:22-33 (NRSV)
Jesus walking on the sea
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 toward them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, 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 toward 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 worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."
I’ve got to say at the outset of my homily that I truly feel bad for Jesus. If you have kids you’ve probably read the book, “The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad, Day” by Judith Viorst.
This is how I imagine that Jesus must have felt after finding out that his beloved cousin John had been beheaded, then trying to steal away by himself to grieve only to be chased down by over 5,000 people who wanted stuff from him, then when he finally gets a moment to himself to try and pray out his grief, a big thunderstorm rises and his disciples fall apart in their boat.
Can you imagine how Jesus must have felt? The disciples had just witnessed the feeding of over 5,000 men, women and children with five loaves of bread and two fish. Certainly this miracle would have put some swagger in their step, made them confident of Jesus’ Lordship, and prepared them for any storm that might arise in their lives, right?
For as soon as the disciples were separated from Jesus a large storm arose, battering the boat with wind and waves—(breathe) and they were far from land.
When Jesus sensed their fear and witnessed their trouble, he decided to walk out to them on the water. Upon seeing him they were terrified, presuming he was a ghost. But, Jesus spoke some of the most comforting words anyone could ever hear saying, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
I can’t tell you how many times Jesus has spoken these words into my heart in the midst of my own storms.
See, so often, as human beings, we get caught up in the reality of our storms. Some of us may be worried about how we’re going to pay the bills. Others of us may be concerned about wayward children who won’t listen. Others may be watching an aged loved one in need of more care than we can provide. And still for others, we may be battling an illness that we’re not sure that we can win.
I could go on and on, but I won’t because only you know about your own life and your own circumstances.
But, into our lives and circumstances, I can see Jesus walking across the water and speaking the life-giving words, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Now, not many people would respond to Jesus’ words by hopping out of the boat and into the water, but that is just what our impulsive Peter did.
As long as he kept his eyes on Jesus upon whom his faith depended from beginning to end, he had no trouble surfing the waves of his circumstances.
However, as soon as he took his eyes off of the Lord, he began to become frightened and sink beneath the water.
It is at times like these that we learn the 911 prayer, “Lord, save me!”
It’s a prayer that every Christian should have memorized and be unafraid to utilize in the event of an emergency.
I don’t know about you, but when I pray this prayer, I mean business. I don’t dial 911 for silly or trite reasons. I don’t dial 911 for information or because I’m sweating the small stuff.
I dial 911, “Lord, save me!” when it feels like the hosts of hell are assailing me. I dial 911, “Lord, save me!” when I don’t feel like I can keep going one more day. I dial 911, “Lord, save me!” when I absolutely have no where else to turn.
And do you know what happens every single time? Immediately, Jesus reaches out his hand and catches me, saying, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Then he hauls me back into the boat of my life and the storm ceases as I worship and bow down saying, “Truly you are the son of God.”
I love how true worship flows out of the heart that has been saved by our God. As we worship and bow down, we affirm our faith that Jesus is Lord, the Son of the Living God.
Out of this good news affirmation flows our evangelism to brothers and sisters near and far. As Romans Chapter 10 states, “How are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
It is our greatest privilege and joy to confess with our lips that Jesus is Lord and to believe in our hearts that God has raised him from the dead. This good news message is salvation to all who will believe it for scripture teaches us that, “Everyone who calls upon the Name of the Lord, shall be saved.”
It is my payer that all of us would ever and always keep our eyes on Jesus when the storms of life are raging. It is my prayer that we would boldly proclaim, “Truly you are the Son of God” in all of the activities of our lives. And it is my prayer that all of us here at Atonement would be given the beautiful feet needed to share the good news that Jesus saves with others.
I pray all of this in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
If you have questions about how to become a friend and follower of Jesus, please see the devotion entitled, “Come to Jesus” @ http://bit.ly/JVhaLta