Friday, August 8, 2014

Proper 14

Proper 14
10 August 2014
Matthew 14:22-33

The trouble you are in might not be your fault! Because you bear the name of Christ. Because you obey His word. Because you are serious about your faith – you are subject to innocent suffering. God got you into this mess! Now, let Him get you out! In the Gospel account of Jesus walking on the sea, we see Jesus does this exactly!

The trouble with obedience Vv. 22-24
The disciples were forced into the boat. There is an urgency here. Jesus makes sure the disciples are gone! The disciples, they don’t want to go. This is not good. After all, they were experienced fishermen. Yes, they would fish at night. But they would never shove off from shore as the sun was setting. Especially on the Sea of Galilee. When the barometric pressure would be falling. It was precisely at this time of the day when the great storms would come. Of course, they probably argued with Jesus! Why wouldn’t they? How much did He really know about fishing? And seamanship? And the lake? Depart now? Not a good plan! And yet, they go.

Jesus goes by Himself. To pray. He dismisses the crowds. Finally, Jesus gets His Sabbath. And after He had dismissed the crowds, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. And doesn’t it sometimes feel as if you too, are all alone? To figure things out all by yourself. To face this big bad world without anyone’s help.  To face your troubles alone, isolated, insulated from the outside world.  Robert Browning may have written, “God's in his heaven, all's right with the world[1] but for these disciples they are in a world of hurt. They are not in a good spot. Tossed and tormented, punched and pounded by the waves and the sea. The wind was against them. That’s where they find themselves. Alone. And a long way from land. Between a rock and had place. They were helpless.

And these disciples. They understood the culture of their time. The waves implied turmoil. And the Sea indicated death. How’s that for trusting Jesus. And His Word. Had He sent them off to die? Was He somehow punishing them?  Was He somehow testing them? Did He really want them there with Him on the mountain to pray? Why did He insist they get into the boat? And this phantom. Who was He? It’s either a ghost; a friend in partnership with death, or it is God. And if it is God. Had he come to destroy them? It is not good to fall into the hands of an offended God.  So why was He coming? Strolling on the Sea? We too struggle. With sin. With worry. With failure. And doubt. Yet, the safest place for you to be is in the boat, at Jesus’ command. That is why the Church has always prayed, Jesus, Savior, Pilot me!

In early Christianity, the ark came to signify the church.  And it’s not a stretch to see the connection. Those inside the church; in other words, those safely inside the boat, are safe. Those outside, are left to the flood of sin, corruption, and death. Noah’s ark, a boat, came to symbolize the church. Salvation comes to those who are gathered within its hull. And all the evils of the world are left outside to perish.
Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps.-Psalm 135:6

The deliverance from trouble Vv. 25-33
Christ comes. In the fourth watch of the night. Between 3-6 am. He came to them…Why did the Church decide to celebrate Christmas in the month of December; the coldest, darkest, most depressing time of the year? Because, Jesus Christ, the light of the world, broke into the darkness of sin. So that the people. Walking in darkness. Could see this great light. It’s always darkest before the dawn. And into this dankness. Jesus came walking on the water.

A call for faith (faithfulness) Vv. 27, 31
In the midst of their struggles, efforts, and tussles Jesus calls out to them. Take heart. It is I. Do not be afraid! Take courage, says Jesus. I have not come to condemn. I am…God. Let me comfort you. Notice how the disciples interact with Jesus. Peter says; since you are…God…bid me to come to You. And isn’t this what we pray for in the Lord’s Prayer, “Thy Kingdom Come” We pray, let me reign with you too! This is a confession and the voice of faith. And Jesus always acts kindly to those who respond in faith…little though it be.

And the response of faith, is always, to come. So Peter comes to Jesus. Walking on the water. Then He saw the wind! He saw the wind? He sees its emptiness. He sees the emptiness of how his own life compared to the completeness of Jesus. He saw anything and everything except Jesus. He had a case of spiritual ADD. And sadly, these symptoms will appear again. The fear of persecution caused him to deny. And in the midst of his fear and fright, Peter cries out, “Lord, save me!

The saving hand. Vs.31  
Notice, Jesus still has a hold of Peter. He took him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  Faith always clings to Jesus. It’s like the frightened little girl. She holds on to mother because she doesn’t know otherwise. She’s holding on to mother so tightly. But who has a hold of whom? Jesus’ grip is so tight that it might hurt a bit. Such is your life in Christ. Jesus has a hold of you. He will never let you . And with His hold on you, He will bring you to repentance and faith. These miracles of Jesus. The feeding of the 5,000. His walking on the water. Jesus’ miracles were always for the benefit of others. Never for His benefit.

In reality this miracle; the disciples going at Jesus’ command, even though it meant nothing but trouble for them. Working, toiling, battling, and failing until Jesus comes to their rescue, a rescue from certain death is the history of the entire Church in just one night.  As soon as they stepped into the boat, the wind stopped. And, they worshipped Him saying, Truly you are the Son of God. This is heaven. For the last enemy to be defeated is death... Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.…” (Revelation 21:1-2) And there, in glory, with Christ and in the company of His saints, we will laud and magnify His glorious name, praising Him forever and ever. Amen. 

Passive Sentences -7%
Readability –87.6
Reading Level-2.9
Artwork by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld © WELS


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