Walking on water

Walking on Water

Today’s Gospel reading (Matthew 14, 22-33) tells of Jesus walking on the water, coming to his disciples who are in a boat, buffeted by strong winds.  It follows on immediately from last week’s Gospel, the Feeding of the Five Thousand.  It is tempting to look for “rational” explanations of such stories, to explain away the miraculous.  But if we believe in a God who created the universe, a God with whom nothing is impossible (Luke 1, 37), a God who loves us and cares for us, it is quite rational to say such miracles can, and do, happen.

The disciples are struggling, trying to row their boat against the wind.  Jesus comes to them by the shortest route, across the water.  They are terrified, but Jesus tells them not to be afraid. “It is I.”

Peter, in his usual impulsive way, says, “Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water.”  Jesus says “Come”, and Peter gets out of the boat.  As long as he keeps his eyes on Jesus, he can walk on the water, but when he sees the wind he begins to sink, and cries to Jesus for help.  Jesus catches him immediately.  (There is a foretaste here of Peter’s boast that he will never forsake Jesus, followed by his denial, and subsequent restoration.)

But Jesus then asks “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”  It seems an unfair rebuke.  Peter might have replied indignantly, “What do you mean ‘little faith’?  I got out of the boat, didn’t I?”  But perhaps Jesus is saying: “I know your faith is small, but small as it is you were able to walk on water while you looked at me and not at the wind and the waves.”

We don’t need great faith; what we need is faith in a great God.

In today’s reading from Romans, Paul says: “If you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  (Romans 10, 9)  And he goes on to quote Joel (2, 32): “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

That’s all it takes.  We don’t have to do anything great to win God’s approval.  We just have to acknowledge what he has done for us through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

But then in response to God’s love we step out in faith.  We seek to learn more through prayer and Bible reading.  We support and encourage one another in our faith. We want others to know the good news of Jesus.  We want to reach out to those in need, whether in practical ways or in prayer.

Sometimes that means we have to leave our comfort zones, to get out of the boat and walk on the water.  It has been said, faith is spelt R-I-S-K.  But God is great, and with him nothing is impossible. Take the risk.  Expect miracles.

For example, when you pray for those who are ill, don’t just pray for their comfort and that they may know God’s love surrounding them – good as those things are.  However serious the illness may be, pray for them to be completely healed.

The future is always uncertain, but whatever happens God will be with us, and God is great.

Revd David Newman

Let me finish with the words of “Oceans”, one of the great songs from Hillsong Church.

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail,
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep my faith will stand.

I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise.
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine.

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail
And fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed
And You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise.
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders;.
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me.
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Saviour.

I will call upon Your Name,
Keep my eyes above the waves.
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine.



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