Sink, Swim or Have Faith

Today’s story of Jesus walking on water happened over 2,000 years ago. It involves the apostles watching “a ghost or a miracle”, but miracles aren’t necessarily confined to biblical times they can happen in 2023. At that time, Jesus followers had witnessed, the raising from the dead of Lazarus and Jairus’ daughter, the healing of lepers, casting out demons, feeding the five thousand and more.
Sink, swim or have faith

Matthew 14: 22-33                          August 13, 2023                        Rev. Miguel Baguer

In today’s times the experience of the miraculous can be part of our lives. The focus on miracles shouldn’t be on magical voodoo or what we think is the suspension of natural laws; what we should focus on is in a particular event, and the timing of that event in such a way that convince us that god has intervened in our lives.

When the apostles’ boat was “battered by the waves”. Jesus came out of nowhere toward them, walking in the sea. The apostles were terrified (who wouldn’t be?) But Jesus told them: “don’t be afraid, it is,”.

We can’t help but concentrate on peter’s part of the story. After hearing Jesus’ supporting words, in a display of courage, instead of a display of faith he cried: “if it is you, command me to come to you in the water.” But, anyway, there for a moment of doubt, his eyes were diverted to the wind, to the storm, to the size of the waves and while walking, in fear he cried: “lord save me” and he sank.

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him while saying: “you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And so it is often in our lives: rather than focusing on the eyes and the face of Jesus, we focus on the storm which is raging in our lives and we start to sink.

Why? Because we are not responding to the saving presence of Jesus Christ in our lives.

Old sailors tell stories about having to climb through the mainsail way to the top, to the crow’s nest. When the sea is calm, the view is beautiful, but it is always scary to get there; but when the boat rocks in a storm, it is even more frightening: they never look down for fear of falling, for fear of a dizzy spell and not making it.

We can do that too, we can remain calm and keenly aware of the storm around us, accepting our vulnerabilities, looking up, never looking down, keeping our eyes not in what surrounds us, but in Jesus. Most of us are convinced that God sees every moment of our lives. There are times when we are frightened about his judgement. We fear the possibility of punishment for everything he knows we have thought and done.

When we may say to ourselves: “my god, I’m in big trouble now” that is a time when Jesus will tell us what he told the disciples in the boat: “do not be afraid, it is I”. With repentance and trust in his mercy, there will be a life outside the boat: Jesus will point the way to the shore, to a landing of peace and reconciliation, away from the rising seas.

When we read of a miracle in the bible, or hear people who experienced one in real life, we often want to have explained what could be unexplainable. So, we rationalize and intellectualize, trying to figure what and how it happened. We try to think like rational Greek philosophers if we try to explain the walking on water.

You may have heard this old joke: a rabbi and two priests: roman catholic and episcopalian were fishing on a boat together, not far from the shore. The rabbi used all his bait and noticed a tackle shop on the shore, not too far. He got out of the boat, walked on water, returned to the boat with his bait and started fishing again.

A short time later, one of the two priests ran out of bait, got out of the boat, walked on water and returned as well. Then the other priest, who had a look of doubt on his face, stepped out of the boat and sank. Then, the rabbi and the other priest told him: “for heaven’s sake, father, don’t you know where the coral reef is?”

That may be a rationalization about how can you walk on water if there is a coral reef. But what Matthew the evangelist is inviting us to do is to ask the question: who walks on water particularly when it is stormy, who parts the waters of the sea, who brought water out of a rock?”

This invites us to turn to the scriptures to find some answers….it is God who command the sea and stills the storm. It is always God who can overcome chaos.

You may have heard many people saying that they are ‘‘a walking miracle’’. They tell stories of God saving, healing and rescuing them; stories about when, after a tragedy, God gave them such strength without which they wouldn’t have made it.

And the focus never is on the how the miracle happened but in god’s intervention, in god’s deliverance. God’s help may come from human hands: it may come through doctors, a loving family, friends in or out of your church, support groups and many times, through total strangers.

But only Christ may help us overcome the terror and the dread of that surge of water that seems to drown us. When this happens, he says to us again: “come, it is I, have no fear”.

Well, these are the words of a leader who is in command.


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