“Let’s walk on Water with Jesus.”
All around us, we see snapshots of reality that things are not going well. We see despair, hunger, injustice, killings, poverty, natural calamities, climate change, pollution, rising prices of goods and commodities, suffering, and death. In spite of all the negativity and pain, we also see hope, triumph, joy, and the promise of a better future.
This is the essence of the message in our scripture reading. It’s a passage that tells the story of how Jesus walked upon the water and how Peter followed suit, had his doubts, and was saved by Jesus.
Let’s meditate on this passage together and be reminded that the only way for us to rise above the times of crisis in our life is by keeping our focus on the One who loves us infinitely, and who truly lives in a victorious kingdom far above natural occurrences.
Matthew’s Chapter 14 is a fully loaded gospel. It started with the beheading of John the Baptist, to Jesus proving the greatness of His power by feeding five-thousand men and their wives and children, with just five small loaves of bread and two fish, to the ultimate walking on water episode.
To appreciate the context of this story; the people were so amazed at the power of Jesus that they wanted to be always with him. That is why he had to dismiss them and told his disciples to cross to the other side of the lake while he needed space for meditation up on the mountain. The problem was, most of them were experienced fishermen and surely they knew the lake very well, so that they did not bother to drop anchor or haul the boat to shore. That is why when the wind got stronger, they were battered by the big waves.
However, we must also remember that Jesus ordered them or compelled them so they have to obey even if they knew that there would be sudden gusts of wind in the late afternoon or evening at that time of the year. Whatever are the reasons, a valuable lesson for us has to be stressed. If Jesus needed to take time to get away and pray, how much more do we need it, especially in times of frustration?
Now, this is the exciting part: While Jesus was praying, the disciples were in panic mode, and they had to endure this for hours until the “fourth watch of the night” which, roughly speaking, would be three or four in the morning. By this time they were not only physically exhausted, but also emotionally on edge. It would seem that Jesus was testing them because he waited for a long time before deciding to walk on water and appear to them. Why then? Why did He not come to them sooner?
Perhaps, this is the fun part: He used this to demonstrate to them—and to us—that He is far above those things that disturb us. Meaning, it is not enough to rely on our strength and the powers of other people, but we rise above our frustrations when we understand to keep our attention on Him.
Now imagine if you were the disciples. After a tiring day, you were ordered to board the boat, row across the lake, and while waiting, will have to brace for strong winds that caused the waves to be rough and to fight your way out to safety to seek for dry land by rowing the boat. And suddenly a man appeared, walking calmly above the water and not even surfing or riding a jet ski, and just said: BE OF GOOD CHEER …CHILAX GUYS.
It is another illustration that Jesus shows Himself to be above the crises we face in life. We may be disturbed, but He isn’t. We may be in fear, but He is as relaxed as ever. Instead—in the midst of the crises that haunt us—He calmly walks up to us and says three beautiful things to us. “Be of good cheer”—that is, be happy. “It is I and finally, “Do not be afraid.” Three straightforward but powerful sentences.
Now we come to Peter. First, he asked, “If it is you then command me to come,” which he did but later on got into trouble because he was afraid even if he was already walking above the water. For sure, as a fisherman, he knew that it was already impossible for him to walk on water, but there is another lesson why he got afraid, and that is for him to utter one of the best prayers ever, which is “Lord, save me!”
We may accuse Peter of doubt, but it has to be emphasized that he got out of the boat while the others just watched. The message is that as long as Peter did not doubt, he did fine. However, when he began to focus on the wind and the waves, he began to sink. For us, this means that when we focus more on the situation rather than on Him, who walked above them all—we will inevitably fall. However, then again, despite the little faith, Our Savior will take us by the hand and save us if we utter the secret prayer “Lord, save me.”
My friends, In our times of frustration, in our times of fear, and even in our times of great weakness of faith, let’s remember who Jesus is. He comes to us walking above all the problems and worries. Let’s listen to His voice, lovingly, caringly calling out to us in times of crises—in the times of doubt, or fear, or weakness of faith—and saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I: do not be afraid.”
If we do, we will be ‘walking on water’ with Him, and thus we will all say “Truly you are the Son of God.” Amen
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