Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Matthew 14:22-33 is the well known narrative including both Jesus and Peter walking on water. What we tend to forget about this passage comes a bit earlier in Matthew 14. In this chapter, Herod has had John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin, executed. Jesus attempted to go away privately, but was called back by the needs of a crowd. After healing many and feeding the crowd, Jesus sent them away and again retreated by himself to pray. It seems he finally has the opportunity to deal with the death of John the Baptist. He now walks out, across the water, to meet his disciples.
The disciples were struggling with adverse weather. It doesn’t seem they were in any particular danger, but it was a difficult crossing. Yet they appear to be more surprised and frightened by Jesus’ apperance walking on water, where he shouldn’t be, than by anything else.
Here is one of the relatively rare occasions in the New Testament when we find Jesus clearly defying the way nature generally works, and doing so for his own benefit. Normally his miraculous acts are clearly directed to others. But here, he has suspended the normal physics of the water to reach his disciples.
We often make much of Peter’s failure. When Peter looks away from Jesus and is more conscious of the weather conditions, he begins to sink. Jesus rescues him. What we seldom make much of is the fact that Peter got out of the boat. Everyone else was still in the boat.
What do we take away from this? Jesus is able to care for his people. He watches over them whether on land or at sea. There’s no cause to fear. We want to keep our eyes on Jesus and trust that he knows exactly what we are going through. He has been there himself, whether in sorrow or in joy, whether in good weather or bad.
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