Minister's Thoughts

VIRTUAL ACT OF WORSHIP SUNDAY 9 AUGUST 2020

MEDITATION ON MATTHEW 14:22-33

“Jesus walks on the water.”  “Truly you are the Son of God.” (V. 33)

Focussed on the purposes of God beyond human understanding

We have been considering some of the parables of Jesus:  when I was young I remember being told that a parable was an earthly story with a Heavenly meaning.  That just about sums it up really, as long as we remember that Jesus was the teller of the parable and their purpose was to show us the Christian way of life and the importance of complete trust in and obedience to our creator God.

Last week we also began to look at Jesus’ actions which spoke louder than words.  His actions were powerful examples of trust in God and the purposes of God.  Last time we thought about the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 men plus the women and children.

Today we will think about the time that Jesus came to His disciples walking on the water!!!

When Jesus finished speaking to the crowds and distributing the loaves and the fish with such dramatic effect He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side of the lake, while he dismissed the crowds.

Now John tells us in his gospel in Chapter 6 and verse 14 and 15 that after the feeding of the 5000 the people began to say “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.”  Jesus, knowing that the people intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew to the mountainside by himself to pray.

It seems that the disciples were also being a bit caught up in this clamour to make Jesus king by popular demand, but that was not what Jesus wanted – far from it.  He came to proclaim the Kingdom of God.  A lesser person might well have been flattered by the human adoration.  A lesser person might have been persuaded to grasp the kingship and the popularity.  It would not have lasted of course, but in any case Jesus had no desire for such human adulation and recognised in it the will of Satan and not the will of God.  It is a timely warning really that not everything that looks good and wholesome in human terms – is in anyway pleasing to God.

A situation had arisen which Jesus needed to deal with alone and so He compelled His disciples to go into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side (remember 8 miles across at its widest.)

Jesus goes to the mountain top to pray

Meanwhile Jesus went up a mountain side by himself to pray.  There are only two occasions in Matthew’s gospel when he mentions Jesus praying.  This is one of them, and the other is in Gethsemane.  Of course to get a fuller picture of Jesus’ prayer life we must read all of the Gospels and books of the New Testament.

There is no doubting the power of prayer.  On this occasion Jesus chose a place where he could be alone with God.  We don’t have to go up a mountainside to pray – and in fact we don’t have to go into a church to pray – although for a great many people it is the ideal place.  What is important is that we understand that when we pray we are coming into the presence of God.  What do we say?  Well, we don’t need to worry too much about the words for two reasons: i) God already knows what we need and ii) Jesus, our risen Saviour, is our Advocate and He speaks to God on our behalf.  In prayer we can share with God our hopes and fears.  We need time for silence also, that we may sense God’s word of life to us.  Sometimes words are not needed.  Quiet, stillness and the assurance that the peace of God that passes all understanding is with us and around us:  these are the things we need.

JESUS WAS ALONE WHEN HE PRAYED WITH GOD AND THESE WERE PRECIOUS TIMES.

Jesus walks on the water!

Later that night, Jesus was alone and the boat, containing the disciples, was already a considerable distance from the land and was being buffeted by the waves and struggling against the wind.  These kinds of storms could blow up very quickly on the lake.  I can imagine that this might be a scary time for the disciples alone with the elements, but they were about to witness something much scarier than that.

It was just before dawn (3:00 – 6:00 a.m.) when Jesus went out to the disciples walking on the lake!  If the wind and the waves made them afraid, seeing Jesus walking on the lake must have really terrified them.  In fact they thought they were seeing a ghost and began crying out in fear and panic.  But who would hear them above the noise of the waves and the wind?

Jesus called out immediately.  “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”  And Peter, ever impetuous, shouted through the storm, “Lord, if it’s you (not a ghost) “tell me to come to you on the water.”  Jesus said, “Come.”

If Jesus told us to do a thing why would we not do it?  Peter got out of the boat and walked toward Jesus on the water!  The he saw again the power of the wind and the wave.  He was scared and he began to sink crying out: “Lord, save me!”  Yes, of course, Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.  “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

Sometimes it is hard not to doubt!  I was an adult when I learned to swim and in the early stages I doubted what the instructor said – until I trusted her and did what she told me.  I floated and sailed up and down.  Poor Peter, why did he doubt?

They climbed into the boat and the wind died down and all was calm.  Those who were in the boat worshipped Jesus and said “Truly you are the Son of God.”

As always it is possible to provide rational explanations for all these miraculous events.  It has been suggested that Jesus actually walked on the surf and the waves and startled the disciples when he suddenly came up beside them.  I had some friends who used to take their boat out in the West of Scotland.  One day they were grounded on a sandbank.  They got out and rocked the boat around trying to re-float it.  Later people on shore at the Boat Club who witnessed the event said it looked for all the world as if they were walking on water.  What do you think?

WHAT THEN CAN WE LEARN FROM THIS ACCOUNT?

Jesus came to herald the Kingdom of God.  Every Christian should seek to be a citizen of that kingdom which will extend beyond all earthly kingdoms.

We should all follow Jesus’ example of coming to God in prayer – in quiet places and at times when we can pray – never doubt that our prayers will be answered.

Remember that when we approach God in prayer, Jesus our Advocate is already there speaking for us – what will He be saying about us I wonder?

Trust in the teaching and counsel of Jesus.  Do not doubt but trust.

Remember that in the storms and calamities of this life Jesus will come to us in the Holy Spirit if we ask Him.  He will calm the chaos in our hearts and minds.  He will feel our pain and heal our spirits.

And shall we not say “Truly, you are the Son of God.”

Praise be to the everlasting God revealed in Jesus His eternal Son and our Redeemer.

ABBA FATHER WE ARE YOURS!

AMEN

Rev. Bob Anderson
Minister

Reading – Matthew 14:22-33
Matthew 14:22-33 New International Version 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.”  
Minister’s Thoughts