Wednesday of Trinity 18 – Matthew 14:22-36

| October 21, 2014 | 1 Comment More

Peter Sinking in the WaterMatthew 14:22-36

There are so many encounters that the disciples have with Jesus in such a short time in this one episode that I see myself in this story multiple times.  Each time I see myself, I see a little more of myself and my Lord reflected from the waters of the Sea of Galilee.  In fact, what I see this morning is a depiction of how we come closer to Christ in faith, and the stages of experiencing Him we encounter on the way.

In the first scenario, the disciples are in the boat by themselves.  They’re in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.  This is a condition I find myself in often.  I sense a storm coming in my life, I feel that something’s wrong.  The world seems contrary to me, and obstacles array themselves against my plans.  Often, in such circumstances, I don’t see Jesus anywhere around.  This might also be the condition of someone who is laboring in life without Christ and isn’t even aware of Him at all.

The second case is when the disciples actually see Jesus coming but mistake Him for a ghost.  This is an improvement in the condition of the disciples, even if they don’t think so at the time.  While Jesus comes to bless them, they’re probably thinking, “Oh great – first a storm is rising, and now the ghosts come out as well!”

They cry out in fear because they don’t recognize Jesus Christ for who He is.  This might be like someone who has heard of Jesus Christ or even grew up in a Christian home, but who doesn’t understand or believe that He is truly the Son of God.  In terms of my life, there are certainly times when Jesus comes into my life and I don’t recognize Him.  I believe that I am actually in His presence all of the time, but often I don’t perceive it.

Seeing Jesus is a tricky business, more of an art than a science.  When I am not feeling well physically, I might see the world in grayer terms and miss Jesus.  On the other hand, when I’m euphoric because things have gone well, I might easily begin the party without inviting Jesus.

Often, I’m just too busy (or think that I am).  The really tricky part about this is that usually I’m busy doing something for Him, whether at church or at home, and I profane these holy things by making idols out of them.  There are times when I probably wouldn’t even recognize Jesus if He rapped on my office door.  I think I’d say (without bothering to look up) something like, “Not now, I’m busy doing the Lord’s work, writing a sermon, working on a Bible study, planning youth events for this semester.  Can we schedule an appointment?”

And then there are the more blessed times when Jesus makes Himself known to me and speaks to me.  “Be of good cheer!  I AM!  Do not be afraid,” He told the disciples.  There are times when those who are in the process of getting to know Jesus take important steps forward in their faith walk.  Jesus makes Himself known, and they “get” who He really is, and are joyful.

How many times in your life have you been on the water when a storm comes up and, worse yet, something really spooks you?  You truly believe that you are going under and that there is little, if anything, you can do about it.  You’re in a downward spiral, and life seems to be a menacing force.

And then Jesus manifests Himself to you in one of the many ways in which He comes to His brothers and sisters.  He tells you to be of good cheer, and you are of good cheer because Jesus is with you.  He tells you it is He, and that therefore you should no longer be afraid.  Things are now right, because even though the difficult situation exists, so does Jesus, and you know that you can make it with Him.

We should all remember and rehearse and share such moments when Jesus comes in them, for it’s one of the most important ways we remember and share Jesus.

There are times of even greater blessing in store for us at other times.  Having seen Jesus and come into His presence, we tell Him that we really want to be sure He is in our lives, and so He tells us to come closer and see.  Peter made just such a request, and Jesus said to him, “Come.”

And so those who have come to Jesus to see and hear Him are invited to come closer in their lives with Him.  Is it really true what they’ve heard about Jesus?  They must now go and find out for themselves.

In my life, Jesus has beckoned me to come closer to find out what He’s really like.  I ask Him frequently to reveal Himself to me so I can be sure He’s in my life.  And lo and behold! sometimes I begin to walk on the water, as Peter did.  The reason I’m able to go is because there is only one thought in my head at the time: to come to Jesus and be with Him.  As I focus on Him, all else grows dim.  Everything else doesn’t go away, and I’m still aware of them.  It’s just that it’s less significant, all of it: the storms in my life, as well as the bright shiny toys that dazzle my eyes.

But my life with Jesus doesn’t ever stay that way for long.  It’s not long before I begin to pay attention again to the fact that the wind is boisterous in my life, and fear and anxiety and worry come slouching back into my life.  I may end the day with Jesus, reflecting on how I saw Him today, but when I begin the next day, behold! Jesus is gone but my worries remain.

I begin to sink, because I am looking at the sea and the boat and not at Jesus.  But I remember enough of Him to cry out, “Lord, save me!”  And then, in His time, He stretches out His hand to me, catches me as I sink, and says, “O you little-faith – why did you doubt?”  Getting back into the boat, the wind ceases in my life.

Once again, when I see how good He has been to me and how He comes when I cry out to Him, I come to Him and worship Him, crying: “Truly, You are the Son of God!”

In reality, I think we’re all in various parts of this story at any one time.  Some of you may be near the beginning of the story, being tossed by waves and contrary winds, not recognizing the presence of Jesus.  Some of you may not recognize Him when He comes to you.  Hasn’t there been something you’ve read, something someone said that sure sounded like the voice of Jesus in your life?  Or was it just a ghost of your imagination?

Some of us vacillate between moments of walking on the water with the Lord and moments of sinking as we look at ourselves and our lives.

The goal, always, is to look for Jesus and, having found Him, to go to Him.  When you are afraid or are sinking, cry out to Him.  When He asks you to come to Him, even though what He asks is as unlikely as walking on the water, come to Him.  And when He delivers you or comes to you in any way today, come before Him to worship Him as the Son of God.

Make it your goal today to see Jesus, and when you do, share Him with someone else.

Prayer:  Jesus, I ask that you come to me today and reveal Yourself to me.  When I am blind to You, help me to recognize You; when I recognize You, let me come to You; and when I come to You, may I remain with You.  Reach out Your hand today, Lord, and take hold of me, that I may look at you and not the things of this world.  Amen. 

Points for Meditation:

  1. Where are you likely to see Jesus today? What are some ways you’ve seen Him in the past? 
  2. Where are you in this story today? What would coming to Jesus mean for you today? 
  3. Make it a point to share an encounter with Jesus with someone today.

Resolution:  I resolve to consider where I am in today’s story and come to Jesus from that place.  

© 2014 Fr. Charles Erlandson

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Category: Give Us This Day

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  1. Diane ehlers says:

    Today’s Devotional is what I would refer to as a “Keeper.” Pull it out & re-read it when you feel like you are “Sinking”. Kudos to our author and His Ultimate Author – Jesus our Lord and Savior !

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