Monday, June 5, 2023

           Walking on water is an extraordinary feat.  Much too rare to be an Olympic event.  But about midway through Matthew’s gospel, Jesus did just that.  He walked on the lake where the disciples were sailing—a lake better known as the Sea of Galilee.  Predictably, the disciples were terrified by what they saw—believing Jesus to be a ghost (Matthew 14:26).  Understandably, we would likely be terrified if we saw someone walking on a lake or on the waves and surf of a beach.  The Lord quickly calmed those fears by saying, “Take courage!  It is I.  Don’t be afraid” (Matthew 14:27).  The expression “It is I” carries more weight than a mere introduction or identification.  Jesus was taking the divine name for Himself.  He was calling Himself “the I AM,” which we know to be the name of God.  The disciples would have had no difficulty recognizing this special and divine name.  They would have known what this name meant when the Lord used it to calm them.  I AM is much greater than a lake.  And the properties of water yield in obedience to the great I AM. 
            Peter was the first and only disciple to speak at that moment.  He said, “’Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water’” (Matthew 14:28).  Perhaps Peter was unsure if what he had first seen and heard was true.  Was this figure walking on the water really Jesus or something else?  Was it an illusion?  Was it a cloud?  Was it a ghost as some had concluded?  Peter made a simple request.  If this figure really was Jesus, then He could surely enable Peter to walk on the water too.  Such a feat would not be too hard for Jesus to do. 
            Peter may have been acting out of faith.  Perhaps he was saying, “Lord, I trust you to get me from the boat to your side.”  Faith is believing and trusting God for great things and things that we cannot do for ourselves.  We are saved by faith because we cannot save ourselves.  He may have expressed his confidence in God’s ability to change and transform him.  It would seem, at least in the moment, that Peter wanted to be with the Lord more than anything else.  Isn’t the core of discipleship the desire to be with the Lord more than anyone else—to see, to trust and to walk with Him more than anyone else?  We could chalk up Peter’s words as a sign of growth and spiritual maturity.  He was growing into the man Jesus had called him to be.  The name “Peter” meant “rock” or “stone.”  And he was counted on to be a stone for the Church that Jesus would call into being.
            Matthew recorded that Peter was able to walk on the water of this lake immediately after stepping out of the boat.  He did it!  Imagine the rush that Peter must have felt to step gently on the water and to see the distance between him and Jesus increasingly narrow.  But almost as quickly, everything changed.  Matthew says, “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” (Matthew 14:30).  He did not start to sink because the wind shifted or accelerated.  He sank because he saw the wind instead of Jesus.  When he took his eyes off Jesus, he found himself sinking into the lake.  The simple lesson would be to say that when we look away from Jesus we begin to sink.  Not a wrong conclusion at all.  Life does begin to unravel when we look away from the Lord. 
            But there is a deeper lesson.  When we look away from Christ, as Peter did, we often discover that we begin to look at a thousand other things.  We look at many different things that capture our eyes and attention—wealth, possessions, fame, habits, obsessions and even sins.  We can often find ourselves denying Jesus, like Peter later did, when we look away from Him.  How do we keep our eyes on Christ and not the winds of life?  We begin by spending time with Him each day in prayer, praise, giving thanks and pouring our lives out to Him.  We read His Word.  We worship Him with others and even in times of silence and solitude.  We walk with Him—trusting and believing by faith that He can and will get us to where He wants us to be. 
            Our challenge today is not so much walking on water.  Rather, our walk is inhibited by much of the noise and chaos that rages around us.  We live in times that are distracting and divisive.  We can be tossed and tussled from one side to another throughout the circumstances of an average day.  We often find ourselves crying out like Peter did in his own words, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30b).
            There is some hope in knowing that we can cry out to the Lord when we find ourselves sinking today.  Struggles can take a toll.  Life can get unmanageable.  We can often find ourselves sinking today.  We are no longer running or walking in faith like we used to do.  Sinking generally occurs in proportion to how long and how far we have looked away from the Lord.  We can give thanks that the Lord is there to catch us just like He caught Peter.  We walk well when we keep our eyes on the Lord.  We will not be walking on water today like Peter once did.  But the Lord has a pathway for us to walk. It is comforting to know that by keeping our eyes fixed on Christ we can walk whatever pathway the Lord has chosen for us.  Have a great Monday.  Remember you can worship and watch our graduate Sunday and youth led worship at   

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