August 23, 2020: 12th Sunday of Pentecost

Let us pray: Dear Savior, we always seem to get ourselves into trouble when we look away from You and fail to trust in Your Word of truth.  Today give us confidence stemming from immersing ourselves in You and not in our pride or in whatever this world throws at us.  For then our walk through life won’t grind us down or overwhelm us, either.  Amen


TEXT:  Matthew 14: 22-33

Dearly Beloved By Christ: 

          This lesson is one of the most well-known in all Scripture.  It is so well-known that it has crept into modern vernacular.  We’re well acquainted with the phrase: “He, or she, walks on water” to describe the person who is a company favorite or a family’s “golden child.”  It is used to describe a person who seemingly skates through life without any problems. 

          The liberal critics of Scripture who reject Christ’s divinity don’t like this passage.  For many decades they’ve tried to explain it away.  Some have said that the disciples merely dreamed it.  It was some sort of mass hallucination.  Others that some later believer added it to Matthew’s Gospel  to buttress Christian belief.  And I remember running across one critic whose explanation was: “Jesus knew where the stones were!”  Walking on water is a human impossibility, unless you’re walking on ice, and the Sea of Galilee never freezes.  Miracles are miracles.  They cannot be explained only believed.

          But, is it true?  Yes!  That’s because Jesus is the Son of God and He uses, and/or, supercedes the laws of nature.  He’s in this world but not of this world.  He made the laws of nature and gravity and the properties of water molecules, along with all sorts of other things that we don’t even know about.  Personally, I’ve come to appreciate this fact more and more as I’ve gotten older.  I’ve learned a little bit about quantum physics which helps me understand this miracle a little more.  Quantum physics says that time, space, and all our reality lies within a greater reality that our senses cannot comprehend.  This “greater reality”  lies outside our senses.  Occasionally we get an insight into it.  Today is one of those days.  And it gives us the truth that Christian faith, belief, can overcome anything when centered on Jesus Christ, the truth unchanged, unchanging. 


          The disciples were in Galilee. They had just been participants in Christ’s miracle of feeding the 5000+ with two fish and 5 loaves of bread.  Right there Christ suspended the laws of nature to do so.–Especially when you recall that they had more leftovers than they began with!  Now Jesus is tired, after all He is True Man as well as being True God.  So, He goes off by Himself to pray.  Meanwhile the disciples get into a boat and journey to the far shore—about 20 odd miles away—to await Him joining them.  The boat was well away from shore toward the middle of the lake when a furious sudden squall comes up.  They row and row but the boat is taking on water and they are afraid of drowning.  Around 4 a.m. Jesus sees all this from His vantage point and decides to help them.  So, He literally “walks on the water” until He gets close.  Did He suspend the law of gravity?  Or, is He above that law so as to not be affected by it?  In any case, they are terrified because they thought He was a ghost!  I find all this mystifying in that they had just been His hands in a huge miracle a few hours before, but now they apparently forgot its truth which is: Jesus always takes care of His children. 


          When He gets closer, He says: “Take courage, it is I, don’t be afraid.”  Impetuous Peter then blurts out: “Lord, if  it’s you, tell me to come to You on the water.”  And then Jesus does exactly that.  Peter then gets out of the boat and begins to walk on the water toward Christ.  Amazing.  And even more amazing is that Peter didn’t sink—because via faith he kept his gaze fixed on Christ.  The power of faith can and does support us in all aspects of life, as long as it doesn’t look away.  But then Peter falters and does look away, is petrified, and begins to sink.  “Lord save me!”  And Jesus doesn’t exactly that, leads him to the boat and immediately the whole storm calms in an instant.  To prove this wasn’t some sort of hallucination, the whole group says: “Truly You are the Son of God.” And they also worshipped Him.


          When God says: “Don’t be afraid” He’s proclaiming to us the truth of the Gospel.  Imbedded in those words is the reality that Jesus has died to save us from all fear and risen to give us confidence.  As long as we focus on that Gospel we’re strong, fearless, and refuse to worry about anything.  We live according to His Word of Truth and let it guide us, knowing that blessings will result.  That’s Peter walking even on water.  But when we look away from Him, what do we have left?  Ourselves and our inherent mortal weaknesses.  Then we start to sink. 

          Loss of control in life is perhaps our greatest fear.  It happens when things go bad at work.  It happens when you check into the hospital for surgery. It happens when the stock market and retirement funds go south.  It occurs when Satan whispers: “Hey you can handle it, trust in yourself or at least the group-think of the masses, because that many people cannot be wrong.”  Anything that shifts our focus away from our Savior and His loving guidance leads to destruction.–Unless and until Christ intervenes and pulls us out of the quagmire of our own making.

          Faith isn’t a good luck charm.  It isn’t merely an emotional feeling.  It isn’t something we should ever take for granted.  No, it is trusting with all your heart that God, not you or me, is in total control of all things and because He’s the Creator He’ll lovingly make sure that “all things work for good to those who love Him.”  Never forget that Christian faith is the  most powerful weapon there is against the hard reality of life.  It replaces fear with supreme confidence.  That’s because “faith is a gift from God, not of works, so that no one can boast.”  Fix your gaze on Christ.  Worship weekly.  Commune regularly.  Be “hearers of the Word and doer’s of the Word.” Fear will still stalk you, but it will never catch you and pull you down.  Amen


Pastor Thomas H. Fox         

Leave a Reply