Proper 14 (7–13 Aug)
Almighty and most merciful God, preserve us from all harm and danger that we, being ready in both body and soul, may cheerfully accomplish what You want done; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
The Lord questions "Why did you doubt?" Matthew 14:22-33
Jesus’ walking on the sea frightens the disciples. Jesus sends the disciples by boat to the other side of the lake while he went up a mountain to pray. When the boat was far from shore, a terrible storm developed, and the disciples were frightened. Three hours before dawn they had a greater reason to be scared. They saw a figure walking on the water. When Jesus assured them that it was he and not a ghost, Peter asked Jesus to let him come to him by walking on the water. When Peter saw the waves, he lost faith and began to sink. In desperation he cries to Jesus for help. Jesus took him to the boat, the wind stopped, and the disciples in awe confessed that Jesus was the Son of God.
It is easy to have faith when all goes well. It is not much of a test of faith when we sit in comfort and prosperity during church services. Faith is seen like a lamp when night comes. The disciples had a night experience on the sea when their faith was challenged. The sermon is needed to encourage people to develop their faith in good times that their faith fail not in times of crises. A faith needed for troubled times.
1. Faith of obedience — v. 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.
The disciples were “made” to go to sea. Jesus wanted and needed to be alone to pray about John’s recent murder by Herod. In their obedience they ran into trouble, a storm at sea. There is a fundamental truth here. As Christians we will get trouble, hardship, and crisis as we obey God’s commands. Jesus never promised all sunshine for his followers.
2. Faith for a crisis — v. 24.
But the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
The fourth watch came between three and six in the morning, the darkest time of the night. Jesus came to the storm-tossed disciples after they futilely struggle against the storm throughout the night. A person’s extremity is God’s opportunity to rescue.
3. Faith to conquer fear — Vv. 26, 27, 31.
When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” In our day we ask, “Who am I?” Jesus knows who he is and told the disciples who he is. Why didn’t they know who he was? It was pitch dark. His figure appeared as a ghost. And who would expect a man to walk on water, especially in a storm at sea in the middle of the night? Since Jesus came to them, they had no reason to fear. No need to fear, for he comes not to harm but to help. No need to fear Jesus because he has power to save from destruction.
4. Faith to confess — v. 33. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Peter expressed the ultimate need of every human — “Save me.” Each person has many needs, but basic to all is the need for deliverance from the threatening forces that are our undoing. On the sea of life, every person faces drowning. He needs to be rescued. At Peter’s cry, Jesus “reached out his hand and caught him.” Jesus said his followers were to catch men before they perish in the perils of the world.
Think of the last time you were in trouble. Did you get yourself out of that situation all by yourself? We might think that we were able to “dodge the bullet” but in reality it was Jesus who reached out to help you. We might think that we have done it “out way” but ultimately it was Jesus who has helped us and His is the one who continues to help us in troubled and difficult times. David reminds us in Psalm 46, “God is our refuge and strength a very present help in all kinds of trouble.”
“Lord save me!” That was the cry of Peter. It is the cry of the voice of faith May this be our cry. Whatever the situation Jesus is able to help. Fear came knowing at the door, Jesus answered, and fear went away! May that be your experience throughout your journey of faith and your walk with Jesus as He orders your days and directs your path.
Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
Artwork by Ed Rojas © Higher Things© Higher Things