Matthew 14: 22-33

The Way Assignment – Lectio Divina – Over several days read Matthew 14: 22-33 then 28-33 then 28-32 then 28-30 then just 28. Reflect on: (1) What does this mean to me? and (2)  What is God telling me with this verse?

The Walking on the Water.*22h Then he made the disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.23i After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone.24Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.25During the fourth watch of the night,* he came toward them, walking on the sea.26When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.27At once [Jesus] spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I;* do not be afraid.”28Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”29He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.30j But when he saw how [strong] the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”31Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith,* why did you doubt?”32After they got into the boat, the wind died down.33* k Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God. ”

Day 1 Matthew 14: 22-33

22h Then he made the disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. Jesus instructed his disciples to do something and then the did it. He instructed others too and they listened. He had just gotten done performing a great miracle and people probably wanted to be around him – and yet he sent them away because he wanted to be with his father.
23i After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Jesus made sure to spend time in prayer – away from others, just him and God. For a flawed human this could be hard since they may want to be with others and receive praise or just hang out with his friends. But he made it a point to be alone.
24Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. The disciples were alone, without Jesus and they were being battered. This is a metaphor for what would happen later when Jesus died and went away again. They would face hardships and persecution and feel like they were in the middle of nowhere ready to sink.
25During the fourth watch of the night,* he came toward them, walking on the sea. (1) This was between 3am-6am. This means that Jesus had been praying since the evening until at least 3am – If “evening” was 8pm he prayed at least 7 hours just him and God! It can be  hard for me to pray for 15 minutes yet alone spend a long time in prayer – and never that long! This shows the importance of prayer, praying to God, and spending quiet time alone with Him.

(2) There is a nonchalance about this verse- it just states the miracle as though this was something natural.

26When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. Even though they saw him and had to have known it was Jesus because they knew what Jesus looked like they didn’t believe it could be him. Their eyes were clearly shown Jesus as he was yet their minds and hearts doubted. Instead of believing in Jesus even more they are afraid.
27At once [Jesus] spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I;* do not be afraid.” Jesus speaks to them and makes it very clear that yes, it is Jesus. He instructs them to not be afraid – as so often angels have done in other places of the Bible. The Truth of Jesus as God can be overwhelming but we aren’t to fear it. Instead we are to take courage by it.
28Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” But then what do these cream of the crop disciples do? They still doubt! They see that it’s Jesus. They hear his voice and must know it is him. And yet Peter challenges Jesus and asks him to perform another miracle just for him so that he would come to believe.
29He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. Peter trusted Jesus enough to listen. He believed enough to take those steps out of the boat and start walking. If he had doubted before he should have known then. But then what did he do?
30j But when he saw how [strong] the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” (1) He became fearful again! He doubted! He let the challenge of the wind cause fear within him and in that moment he stopped believing – and so he began sinking. Yet ironically/perplexingly he then cried out to Jesus to save him! So he simultaneously believed in Jesus and what Jesus could do but he also doubted it? It is hard to imagine just being given the clearest of indications of who Jesus was and then just as quickly forgetting it and letting an earthly worry shake his belief.

(2) This is like a metaphor for how the disciples first responded to the fact that Jesus was crucified – they hid in the upper room in fear. When challenges came they hid away from the world. Without Jesus there to protect them they became too afraid.

31Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith,* why did you doubt?” (1) But Jesus didn’t hold Peter’s doubt against him. Instead he reached out to save him. Jesus took the time to tell Peter that he didn’t have enough faith – it could sound like scolding, but it was said with love. Surely that question left Peter reflecting on what had just happened and how he responded to it. We know that Peter later let the worries of the world prevent him from acknowledging Jesus, but we also know that after that he made up for it by spending his life proclaiming the Good News.

(2) “Why did you doubt?” Why do I doubt at times? God will show me where he calls me and yet I let the worries of the world interfere with my following. What a great question Jesus gives us! If we can see those times we doubt then we know we have room to grow in our faith. Do I want my faith to be little? No! I want to no doubt. I want to not be afraid. I want to have great faith!

32After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Jesus’ presence calms nature, but it also calms the disciples worries. They should have been calm and unafraid even when Jesus wasn’t physically with them. But it took his presence to bring that peace. We are blessed to know that Jesus is with us always – like he tells us – we do not need to be afraid! He is with us and no matter what the world raises against us with Jesus we are a boat within a calm sea.  
33* k Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God. (1) Only when Jesus made it as clear as he possibly could that Jesus is God did the disciples come to believe. He walked on water. Did that cut it? No. He let Peter walk on water. Did that do it? No. He got into the boat and the wind died down. Did that make it clear? Yes!

(2) …But then we know the disciples later struggled with following Jesus even though they had received the clearest signs that Jesus was the Son of God. This fact that even the disciples – those who knew Jesus the best and saw all his miracles and learned all the lessons directly from Jesus – struggled with following him is encouraging to me — It provides comfort to know that I can believe in Jesus yet sometimes fail in following, yet Jesus will always be there with me offering me his hand and asking me to grow in faith.

Day 2 Matthew 14: 28-33

28Peter said to him in reply, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Disbelief. Despite the obvious Peter challenged Jesus to prove himself. I always think that if God gave me a clear sign that He is there – like showing me something or audibly speaking to me – then I would really know and believe with my whole heart. But would I? The disciples received the clearest signs and still their faith was not full. Faith is believing without knowing. And yet they had the chance to know and yet they didn’t fully believe? If Peter still challenged Jesus like this I wonder if I really would fully believe if Jesus walked on water in my life and I witnessed it — or if I would still seek clear sign after clear sign, repeatedly being shown the Truth and me still pushing back.
29He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. Peter asked Jesus to command him if it really was him. Jesus commanded him. The Word should have been enough for Peter. But it wasn’t – he took steps out on the water to get additional proof.
30j But when he saw how [strong] the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” But then the additional proof wasn’t enough for Peter. He had hard evidence that Jesus was Jesus. And then he doubted. But right after doubting Peter turned to Jesus to save him – he turned back to God right after he saw his lack of faith weakened himself.
31Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith,* why did you doubt?” (1) There is redemption for us. Even if we fail in having the faith we are called to have we are not abandoned by Jesus. He is right there for us when we do turn back to him. And he catches us immediately; he doesn’t wait until we do anything to make up for our mistakes! All we need to do is long to be saved and he will save us.

(2) In this verse Jesus is the actor. When I envision the scene I figure Peter stretches out his arms towards Jesus to be saved. But what is in the verse is all Jesus. Without hesitation Jesus stretches out his hand and catches Peter.

32After they got into the boat, the wind died down. A line from “How can I keep from singing?” is what this verse prompted today: “No storm can shake my inmost calm. While to that rock I’m clinging.”
33* k Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God. How often do I ask: “Show me a clear sign O God so that I may believe”? How often must I remember: “Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”. (Jn 20:29)”?

Day 3 Matthew 14: 28-32

Challenge Jesus to prove himself to you – that He is real, that He is there with you, that He can save you – And what will Jesus do? Every time you ask He will answer you.  No matter if you ask him defiantly or pleadingly Jesus will respond to you with love. He will reveal himself to you because He wants you to know that He is real, He is there with you, and that He loves you. He loves you so much and longs to be your redeemer that you are worth that answer, that proof to help you believe. He says to us, “O you of little faith, let me help your faith grow!”

Day 4 Matthew 28-30

We can doubt and then believe. We can believe and then doubt. And when we doubt we need to recognize that we are doubting so that we can cry out yet again to the Lord: “Lord, save me!”

Day 5 Matthew 28

 

 

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