Monday, August 15, 2011

The Boat is a Lie

Matthew 14:23-33 tells us the familiar story of Jesus walking on the water. When I was in Sunday school this story had a very simple moral. "Jesus walked on the water." Which really didn't teach me anything to live my life by, but served as an example of Jesus's diety...but then I didn't know what diety meant at that age either. In an adult Sunday school class the lesson probably shifts focus a bit to Peter and says "If I keep my eyes on Jesus I can walk on Water" (cue Audio Adrenaline...GO!)

But other than these two true yet basic answers I think we gloss over this passage to a great extent.

Consider that this is the second time recorded in the Gospel that the disciples are in a boat with a raging storm all around them. Only this time around the one person they know who can calm the storm is back on the land praying. I think we ignore the storm in this story to focus on the miracle itself. If this was only about Jesus proving His power, He could have the made the same point on a clear day.

The disciples have put their faith in two things. The wind and the boat. The wind is described as "contrary" so they have already lost on that front. All they have left is the boat and they can't even control the direction that it will move becaues of the wind. We often put our faith and trust into material things that cannot truly provide support when the going gets tough.

Jesus appears on the water and Peter seems to determine that no matter how windy it is and no matter how choppy the water is, it surely must be safer out there with Jesus than it is in the boat. It is then while Jesus is accomplishing the impossible through Peter, that he begins to doubt and starts to wonder how he could possible control the elements to keep himself from slipping. And as Peter thinks hard about how not to sink, he finds himself doing just that.

It is notable that no one jumps in after Peter, and Peter doesn't try to swim for it either. The conditions on this water are such that an experienced swimmer like Peter realizes that he cannot rescue himself but must call out to Jesus. When he does, Jesus wastes not a moment. Jesus doesn't scold Peter and THEN save him. He saves him and then convicts him for his lack of faith. Jesus then returns a much humbled Peter to the boat and the storm ends.

This is not the last storm that Peter will experience either literally or figuratively. But he will make it safely to shore due to Jesus.

So often we try to control our surroundings and situations when all we need is Jesus. People go to God in prayer under two conditions--1. Things are going great, 2. Things are going poorly. I tend to err on the things are going great side of it. When things are going poorly I often take it upon myself to fix it and all I do is make a mess. When I call out to Jesus is when I find peace.

Peter recognizes his condition as being unstable, so he leaves the boat. He falls to his own control issues and has to cry out to Jesus to save him. Jesus does so and changes Peter's life. This does not mean that Peter's life on earth was perfect, but it was changed.

We must also recognize that a life apart from Christ is unstable. Jesus has come out onto the water in the midst of our life's storm and he is saying, "Come". I challenge you, step out of the psychological safety of the boat, set your eyes on Jesus, let Him carry you across the stormy waters, cry out to Him when you sink, be saved and let Him change your life.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this Tom. I love the different perspective you give on Peter's walk on water, and I will have Audio Adreneline stuck in my head for at least 30 minutes. :)