Reading: Matthew 14. 22-33.
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. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’
28 ‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’
29 ‘Come,’ he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came towards Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’
This week’s story is another miracle story which may provide a stumbling block for some readers. What? Really? But, what we need to look at is not ‘How it happened’ but ‘Why’. In this reading, we see the disciples struggling with a storm, which is not surprising, because we know that storms are coming any time in our lives. For example, a storm of sudden illness, job loss, financial problems, or relationship break down, and, particularly at this time of pandemic, the loss of the loved ones. In this story, although they were the professional fishermen and they seemed to know the sea and the storm, we see them struggling and unable to make headway against the wind. They were stuck in a storm, despite all their efforts, all through the night.
That is, in a sense, a kind of picture, through which we find ourselves in our lives. In this world, we have discovered so much, and learned so much, and invented so much. We know that hi-technology, computer, internet, scientific discovery, and medical development have made a huge difference in our lives, which we couldn’t even think of just about 10 years ago. It seems we know everything.
However, we’ve got to realise that we are vulnerable human beings, unable to do anything, in the face of a few seconds of earthquake, or heavy rain or strong winds, or an unpredicted attack of virus. We’ve got to admit that we are mortal bodies and we can’t get salvation by ourselves. The disciples in the boat were facing the same situation. Although they were fighting against the storm all through the night, they didn’t know what to do. Desperately, they needed help.
But, it is interesting to see that they didn’t recognise Jesus nearby, who could be their help. Moreover, they were even frightened to see him walking on the water, saying ‘It’s a ghost!’. Now, we see Jesus become a ghost, when we are not able to relate him to our lives. In our poor eyesight, or in our blindness, when we cannot recognise Jesus properly as our Lord and Saviour, we are to make him a ghost, a frightening creature. That was exactly what the disciples did at the boat.
Nevertheless, we see Jesus never leave them alone, but give them courage, saying ‘It is I. Do not be afraid’. What he says is ‘I am the one who can save you. So, do not be afraid’.
Yes, we need to remember that Jesus is there to rescue us, when we fail and sink. Jesus knows our weaknesses and our failures, but never lets us go to sink. He reaches out his hands to rescue us, because he is our Saviour, our redeemer, and our Lord. He wants us to take courage, and get out of the boat, and feel the thrill of walking on the water, so that we may know and experience the wonder and joy of trusting in him, in this world of chaos, conflict and confusion. Amen.
Lord Jesus Christ, speak your word now in the turmoil of our world, in the confusion of life, and especially in the hearts of those who find themselves all at sea, tossed about in storms of sorrow, suffering, anxiety and despair. Bring order out of chaos, confidence out of fear, faith out of doubt, and peace out of unrest – the certain knowledge that nothing, not even death itself, can finally overwhelm us. In your name we pray. Amen.