We’ve all been there: in a storm. It might be a passing one for you right now… or it’s been a month-long downpour and you’re exhausted, soaked to the bone. Or it might be sunny days, but the storm wasn’t that long ago. The storm is not a pleasant place to be… as humans, we actively work against finding ourselves caught in a storm. We check our weather app (sometimes multiple times a day), we plan our trips and activities around a storm that we know is coming, or we step out prepared to fight the elements of a storm – an umbrella, rain boots, rain jacket…
But there are times when we find ourselves in that unexpected storm.
This past Sunday, Thomas took us to the familiar story of Jesus, Peter, and the disciples, who find themselves on a boat, in the middle of an unexpected storm (Matthew 14:22-33).
How did the disciples find themselves in that situation? They listened to Jesus. He led them to the very situation that would bring them into the storm.
but… why would a good, wise, and loving God do such a thing?
What this story illustrates is that sometimes, following Jesus will lead us into a storm. Jesus is leading his disciples to go where they would not have chosen to go so that he can produce in them what they could not have achieved on their own: a living faith. Faith that trusts God and moves us to take risks when he commands us to.
Read on for the highlights from this past Sunday:
Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. (Matthew 14:22-24)
- The disciples are in this situation because they listened. They followed Jesus’ instructions. They were in a messy and dangerous situation because it was exactly where Jesus wanted them to be.
- Jesus is leading his disciples to go where they would not have chosen to go so that he can produce in them what they could not have achieved on their own. A living faith. Faith that trusts God and moves us to take risks when he commands us to!
And in the fourth watch of the night, he came to them, walking on the sea. (Matthew 14:22-25)
- Jesus walks on water. What this tells us about Jesus in this moment is that:
- Jesus is God Almighty; not just an ordinary man.
- Jesus’ priority is transforming his disciples not transforming the storm – Otherwise, he could have simply ended the storm from the shore by commanding the wind to be still.
- Jesus is using this disaster to reveal who he truly is and he’s doing it in such a way that would produce living faith in his disciples.
But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. (Matthew 14:26)
- The way the disciples responded may be reasonable if this was maybe the first time they had seen Jesus do the impossible… but the disciples had spent time with Jesus leading up to this moment and saw him perform miracles. Where do you draw the line in your belief of who Jesus is and what he can do?
- How we live reveals what limits we put on Jesus and our limits on Jesus will keep us from trusting and obeying him.
But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27)
- First, he gives us two words of comfort.
- Take heart – be courageous. everything is going to be ok.
- Do not be afraid – don’t worry, don’t panic, don’t stress. In other words, be calm, be at peace, be joyful,
- Why? Not because the storm is over, but because Jesus is there. If God is for us who can be against us. Whatever you are facing, no matter how dark and painful, you are not alone. God never leaves his children to suffer alone. He’s with you and wants to comfort with his presence and produce in you something that may never have been possible without the storm. FAITH!
And Peter answered him, “Lord if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” (Matthew 14:28-29a)
- Peter is not fully convinced but he holds on to Jesus’ words.
- This is one of the reasons we go to the Father and pray. It’s where we go to confess our doubts and to say Lord help. I can’t do this on my own but you can.
- When Jesus answers Peter with “come,” This is the same word that Jesus used to call his disciples to follow him. It’s the word that established their primary calling and shaped their identity. And it’s now the word that Jesus uses to fundamentally transform how Peter thinks about himself and God.
- And notice that when Jesus calls whether to follow him or to act in faith it requires leaving something behind. And in this case, it’s the way Peter thought about Jesus and the comfort of the boat. Christianity is not an I’m saved that’s enough now let me make myself comfortable kind of operation. No, it’s a die daily, your will be done type of faith.
So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:29b-31)
- Just as quickly, Peter’s outlook changed: “when he saw the wind” (v.30). Where before he was willing to take a risk and put his confidence in Jesus and now Peter is distracted by the effects of the wind.
- I love how just as quick Peter takes his eyes off Jesus and cries for help Jesus responds to save him. Immediately. But also adds gentle rebuke. “Why did you doubt?” The type of doubt here is not a theological debate in his mind over the existence of God. The doubt he’s experiencing has to do with practical confidence in God to sustain him in light of the dangerous effects of the wind. Jesus is saying, I was with you the whole time. No need to worry about the storm. I’m Lord of the storm. Let me show you.
And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:32-33)
- Jesus is the power source. Psalm 89:9: “O mighty God…You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them.”
- The only response. Psalm 133:3 “It is God who gives us the spirit of worship.” Being with Him seeing experiencing his the only response is just like any who encounters is worship him as God.