August 7, 2005 - Pentecost +12

Matthew 14:22-33

 22 Immediately Jesus obliged his disciples to get into the boat and go ahead of him to the other side, while he sent the crowd away.

23 And having sent the people away, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. At nightfall, he was there alone. 24 Meanwhile, the boat was very far from land, dangerously rocked by the waves for the wind was against it.

25 At daybreak, Jesus came to them walking on the lake. 26 When they saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, thinking that it was a ghost. And they cried out in fear. 27 But at once Jesus said to them, "Courage! Don't be afraid. It's me!" 28 Peter answered, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you walking on the water."

29 Jesus said to him, "Come." And Peter got out of the boat, walking on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But, in face of the strong wind, he was afraid and began to sink. So he cried out, "Lord, save me!" 31 Jesus immediately stretched out his hand and took hold of him, saying, "Man of little faith, why did you doubt?"

32 As they got into the boat, the wind dropped. 33 Then those in the boat bowed down before Jesus saying, "Truly, you are the Son of God!"

34 They came ashore at Gennesareth. 35 The local people recognized Jesus and spread the news throughout the region. So they brought all the sick to him, 36 begging him to let them touch just the fringe of his cloak. All who touched it became perfectly well.

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Notes from [The Community Christian Bible

• 22. They were terrified: thinking that it was a ghost. The apostles shared the same fears and superstitions that their kinsfolk had. Only in time would they reach mature faith which drives away these paralyzing beliefs.

Command me to come to you (v. 28). Matthew is not interested in emphasizing Peter's doubt, but his faith. Peter alone dared to attempt something that seemed to be reserved for Jesus, and after joining his companions again in the boat he was, though soaked, the happiest of them all.

Man of little faith (v. 31). Once more Jesus' reproaches are addressed to his best disciples (as in 6:30; 8:26; 16:8; 17:20) – in order to convince future disciples, like us, that much is still lacking in our faith.

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Comments by Wesley

1. This is a most loved story. Most of us can identify with a sense of being sent away, being alone in the midst of what we perceive as danger. We can also appreciate seeing ourselves as courageous and, if we run into trouble, being rescued. All of that is a valuable source of support to keep on "keeping on."

2. The fisherfolk had been in many a storm on this body of water where they come up suddenly. This was manageable, this was routine. But, then, comes that which breaks their categories and courage wanes and waxes and wanes again. How human to waver in our courage to live out our belief about the realities of life.

A question before us is what courage we are giving evidence to regarding where we are being called today. We do so like doing what we have done that we will continue it even when it is counterproductive. A presumption here is that Jesus is still calling the leaders of the church to courageous stands outside their usual ship of protection. The promise is that if they will follow the call of today, they will find themselves held up even should their faith falter when the world and church mutter against them.

3. Look for affirmations -- an affirmation to call folks forward -- an affirmation to recognize a call into uncharted water -- an affirmation of acting on a recognized call, even if it goes against one's understanding of the usual processes of the world. -- an affirmation of helping folks back into a boat of usual expectations when they sink so they can catch their breath and be ready to try again in another setting.

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