Sunday, August 3, 2014

Peter Walks On Water

This weeks gospel is the famous story about Jesus and Peter walking on water. It starts with Jesus making the disciples get into the boat and leave without Him. Then He goes up into the hill by Himself to pray. Jesus sets it up. Then He prays until the 4th watch of the night. That is until 3 AM. He knows they are going to be in trouble. He prays for them. Yet He lets them experience the fear for a while. God does that. Even when He is going to save us He often does not do it right away. He wants us to face our fears. He wants us to make those desperate prayers. 

Eventually Jesus goes down to the Sea of Galilee and starts walking on the water. Now the disciples are afraid again. Not sure if they thought this was part of a death experience. If you are about to drown then why is a ghost scary? Anyway, Jesus calms them down and assures them it is just Him. 

Then something truly amazing happens. Peter asks Jesus to call him onto the water. Peter is a fisherman. He lived on that seas and had likely known people who died on that sea. He had been in danger of drowning that night. Yet he want to step out onto the stormy water. Why? Jesus is there. If it is really you then ask me to come. It can be a life transforming request. I remember praying this when investigating the charismatic movement. I remember praying it when investigating the Catholic church. If this is you Jesus then call me. 

There were 12 disciples. Only one asked to be called. Only one was called. The other often followed Peter after he had spoken. He was their leader. This time he is leading nobody. He is alone. Yet he walks on water. Somehow Peter does what only Jesus can do. By desiring to go to Jesus, in a way, He becomes Jesus. 

Then fear enters in. Peter starts to realize he can't do what he is doing. When he saw the wind he was afraid. Of course you can't see wind. Still he is no longer looking at Jesus and he begins to sink. People give Peter a hard time here. The truth is that anytime we try and do anything for the kingdom of God we are going to fail. It is not a matter of if but of when. We will get into a crisis. We will lose out faith. We will start to sink. We can say it won't happen to us but it will.

What happens next is most encouraging. Peter calls out to Jesus. Jesus immediately reaches out and grabs him. No letting him wait it out this time. Peter ends up where he wanted to be, with Jesus on the water. Isn't life often that way? Our worst fear happens and instead of disaster we end up closer to God then we ever were. We were not really afraid of falling. We were afraid of falling and not being caught by Jesus. That somehow Jesus would abandon us because we fell. That simple cannot happen. Not because our falls are not that bad. It is because Jesus is that good. 

Then Jesus asks the question He asks us all. O man of little faith, why did you doubt? He talks often about our faith being little. He does not address it personally to Peter but to anyone who happens to have little faith and has struggled with doubt. Why do we doubt? We don't believe it is really real. We doubt whether God is real. We doubt the church. We doubt His love for us. All the things we say we believe. When it really matters we can doubt them. 

Then Jesus simply gets into the boat and turns off the storm. Just to confirm for them that He was only using the storm to freak them out. They get it. They respond with worship. Worship is due God alone. Jews know that better than anyone. These Jews know that God just got in their boat.  

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