22 Right then, Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead to the other side of the lake while he dismissed the crowds. 23 When he sent them away, he went up onto a mountain by himself to pray. Evening came and he was alone. 24 Meanwhile, the boat, fighting a strong headwind, was being battered by the waves and was already far away from land. 25 Very early in the morning he came to his disciples, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified and said, “It’s a ghost!” They were so frightened they screamed.
27 Just then Jesus spoke to them, “Be encouraged! It’s me. Don’t be afraid.”
28 Peter replied, “Lord, if it’s you, order me to come to you on the water.”
29 And Jesus said, “Come.”
Then Peter got out of the boat and was walking on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when Peter saw the strong wind, he became frightened. As he began to sink, he shouted, “Lord, rescue me!”
31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him, saying, “You man of weak faith! Why did you begin to have doubts?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind settled down.
33 Then those in the boat worshipped Jesus and said, “You must be God’s Son!”
27 “My Father has handed all things over to me. No one knows the Son except the Father. And nobody knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wants to reveal him.
28 “Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. 29 Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves. 30 My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light.”
The Sea of Galilee sat in a kind of geologic “bowl,” and was always subject to sudden, severe storms. The strong wind and waves were frightening enough. But when the disciples saw Jesus walking to their aid on the lake, these experienced fishermen “were so frightened they screamed.” Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid.” The reason? “It’s me.” “Literally, Jesus says, ‘I am’; although this can mean, ‘It is I,’ the activity in the context supports an allusion to Jesus’ deity (cf. Ex 3:14, where the same Greek phrase used in the Septuagint, the pre-Christian Greek translation of the OT, is used here also).”*
Lord Jesus, I need your rest, your peace, your freedom from fear. Help me to hold firmly to your claim to be the great “I AM,” who is always on my side and at work for my good. Amen.
* Zondervan, NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, eBook (Kindle Locations 220070-220072). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
** Wright, N.T. Matthew for Everyone, Part 1: Chapters 1-15 (The New Testament for Everyone) (p. 137). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.
Today’s GPS Scripture reaches out to me as someone who is easily distracted, and as someone who doesn’t always stop and think about all the times God has shown me that I am loved by the creator of the universe who walks on water and quiets the wind!
Here are the disciples, hiding in the bottom of the boat, when they see their friend and teacher walking on top of the waves, unaffected by the wind. Their first reaction is fear and misunderstanding. Now, seeing anyone walk on top of the water would be pretty disconcerting, I’ll grant you. But just a few hours before this they had seen this same Jesus turn five loaves of bread and two fish into a meal for 5,000 people! Then, when Peter is invited to join Jesus on the water, he gets distracted looking at the wind blowing around him and fear makes him sink into the stormy water. Jesus pulls him up, shakes his head, and asks Peter, “Why did you begin to have doubts?” And then, of course, the wind settled down.
I know I am not any different. I have seen God work in my life, and in the lives of many others. I’ve seen God heal bodies and spirits. I’ve seen lives change, and I’ve experienced changes in my own life. I’ve come to God frightened, confused, sick, tired, and even angry. I’ve been blessed over and over, and often not in the way my limited brain and spirit asked for, but in ways that showed me the God who walks on water and quiets the wind. Still, when a new storm rises up, my first reaction is often to cower in the bottom of the boat, and when I finally realize I only need to step out and step toward Jesus, I can still be distracted by the sound and feel of the storm, become overwhelmed, and start sinking.
Jesus, of course, knows this is how our limited hearts and minds work, so he spoke, directly to all of us: Come to me, all you are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Put on my yoke and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves. My yoke is easy to bear and my burden light. (Matthew 11:27-30)
I am certain God is using this story and this assurance to speak to many of us this week. Let’s pray for each other!
Lord, thank you for reminding us
that the storms obey you, and that
you are God, who walks on water and quiets the wind.
Help us to remember to get up out of the boat
and walk toward you and your loving care
so that we can find rest and comfort.
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