What I’m Thinking: Walking on the Water

The story of Jesus walking on the water is so rich. It touches so many parts of our lives. It reminds us of our needs, our challenges, and our hope.

Here’s a transcript:

I’m thinking about the fourteenth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel (Matthew 14:22-33). We probably know this story best by the title, “Jesus Walked on the Water.”

The setting is a curious one. It immediately follows the feeding of the five thousand (Matthew 14:13-21). The feeding of the five thousand happened because Jesus had actually left the villages and communities where he had been working. Jesus left because he needed some time by himself with God – or at least with his closest friends and God – to mourn the death (the execution) of John the Baptist (Matthew 14:1-12).

Well, a bunch of people followed and so he had to feed them. Once they were fed he still needed that time with God. At this point, he was tired enough that he sent his closest friends away as well. They hopped in the boat and ventured out onto the lake, possibly to have some conversation among themselves, possibly to do a little fishing.

It hardly matters what they were up to because they found themselves in the midst of a storm. Storms on the Sea of Galilee can be quite dangerous to a small group in a small boat. In the midst of it all, they saw a figure approaching upon the tossing surface of the lake. They thought it was a ghost until Jesus assured them who it was.

I’ll be honest. If it had been me, I’m not sure that my friend walking on the water was any less frightening or would be any less frightening than the sight of a ghost.

Peter offered to come out and walk on the water with Jesus. Jesus invited him. And in a classic case of “be careful what you ask for,” Peter got out of the boat, took a few steps across the waves, succeeded for some time, but then in the midst of the waves and the wind began to sink. “Oh, little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt?”

This is such a rich story. It reminds us once again that we cannot keep everything going all the time, that even Jesus – especially Jesus – needed that alone time, that non-ministry time, that grieving time, that renewal time, that prayer time with God. It reminds us that circumstances can and often do deceive us, that what we think is real may be something completely different. It’s a caution to us: be careful what you ask for. And also – I never, ever forget this – Peter did walk on the water. Yes, his courage failed him, and his faith, but he did walk on the water at least briefly. And when he sank, there was Jesus to pull him up.

So: a rich and wondrous story that reminds me of so many things.

  • How precious is that renewal time that we can and frequently don’t allow ourselves to spend with God,
  • The frequent ways in which the world can look like one thing and yet be another,
  • The risks inherent in the life of faith, and the deepest truth of all:
  • That when we’re out of the boat and sinking fast, there is still One to grab hold of us, to pull us back into the boat, and with (I think) something of a smile say to us, “You were doing it. Why did you doubt?”

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear what you’re thinking. Leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: , | Posted on August 3, 2020

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