Right then, Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead to the other side of the lake while he dismissed the crowds. When he sent them away, he went up onto a mountain by himself to pray. Evening came and he was alone. Meanwhile, the boat, fighting a strong headwind, was being battered by the waves and was already far away from land. Very early in the morning he came to his disciples, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified and said, “It’s a ghost!” They were so frightened they screamed. Just then Jesus spoke to them, “Be encouraged! It’s me. Don’t be afraid.” Peter replied, “Lord, if it’s you, order me to come to you on the water.” And Jesus said, “Come.” Then Peter got out of the boat and was walking on the water toward Jesus. But when Peter saw the strong wind, he became frightened. As he began to sink, he shouted, “Lord, rescue me!” Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him, saying, “You man of weak faith! Why did you begin to have doubts?” When they got into the boat, the wind settled down. Then those in the boat worshiped Jesus and said, “You must be God’s Son!” (Matthew 14:22-33, Common English Bible)
I can’t help but wonder if this is a story that was shared around the campfire for generations, you know, kind of like a ghost story. I have no doubt it was a story shared often. After all, we still share the story today. It is one of my favorite stories in the Bible and I love to preach on this story. Still, did the disciples share this story?
Their fear wouldn’t hold them in a very good light. It is often said that faith and fear are not compatible with each other. If you are a person of faith, you shouldn’t be a person who fears. That is often times easier said than done.
I remember when my boys were younger, they both had t-shirts in their wardrobe that said, “No Fear” on the front. Yet I don’t think I have ever met anyone who didn’t have fear of something. I freely admit, I have a fear of snakes. I don’t care if it is poisonous or not, I have a fear. I would have never been a contestant on the old reality television show “Fear Factor.” There is no way I would let them cover me with snakes.
Some people might say they don’t fear anything, they just respect it. I don’t respect snakes, I do fear them. My fear is so great, I don’t even want to see a snake on television. If I see one I cover my eyes until it is gone. That makes my fear of snakes an irrational fear. There is no way that snake can get to me through the television.
In today’s lesson we find the disciples afraid. It isn’t the first time they were afraid, nor would it be the last. We are also often critical of the disciples fear. We ask, “You were with Jesus how could you be afraid?” We are able to see the story with full knowledge of its outcome. We have full knowledge of the Gospel’s outcome. Unlike us, the disciples were living it.
Think about it this way, for the twelve, they are living this story out on a small fishing boat during a storm at sea. If you have never been at sea during a storm, take my word for it, it can be a frightening experience all on its own.
To further complicate matters, they see something happening in front of them they know to be impossible. People are not supposed to walk on the water. Swim? Sure people can swim. But walk on the water, we all know it just isn’t possible.
Yet Jesus has a way of making the impossible, possible. And, when they realized it was Jesus, their fear dissipated. That becomes obvious from Peter’s actions, putting his faith on Jesus’ hands and actually walking on the water.
What is your fear that prevents you from living full faith in Jesus?
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Joy and Thankfulness,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved