How do you do in storms? Are you a shoulder shrug and back to your work kinda person or are you a run to the basement and break out the candles person? I guess I’m neither but I am wary of storms ever since a 100 ft. tree toppled onto our house 6 days after we moved in.
How do you do in life storms? When things cave in, pain overwhelms, confusion dismays and fear is ever present? How do you do in storms?
In a life storm does your soul meter leans toward faith or anxiety? Confident assurance in God or panic stricken apprehension.
Matthew 14: 22
Context: The story we’ll examine today is sandwiched between one of the most famous of all of Jesus miracles (feeding of the 5000) and the testy encounter between Jesus and the people that happened the next day.
This story, maybe as well known as the Feeding of the 5000 happens at night just hours after the multiplication of food.
Matthew 14:22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,
· made = compelled (there is real energy here)
· why? – he needed to pray (remember they wanted to make him King by force)
24 but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. (water grew rough – John, they strained at the oars - Mark)
· these descriptions give every indication they had encountered a sudden storm
25 During the fourth watch of the night (3-6 a.m. Probably they had been at this a while) Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. (He was about to pass by them – Mark ) "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."
· This miracle raises some unanswerable questions like…how did he defy the laws of nature? Did he levitate or did the water become hard under his feet? Regardless – this is a miracle.
· And…why did he do it? What was in Jesus mind? Was he planning this…he could have just beamed to the other shore but he didn’t
· And…why did it look like he was going to pass them by? I dunno.
But regardless of course they through he was a ghost – yeah you might say there is no such thing as ghosts but there is no such thing as people walking on water either!
28 "Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."
· Equally viable translation – “Lord, since it’s you”…since you are not a ghost and you are not just anybody…and since you are the one who just fed 10,000 people with 5 loaves and two sardines…let me try!
Again, why? Why did Peter think this? A lot of books have been written about this moment but really no one knows what possessed Peter to react.
29 "Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
· another miracle – Jesus gave Peter the ability to defy gravity and the physical laws
30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.
· Peter had walked far enough to be within reaching distance. But, for some reason the storm got too great for his senses. Maybe the waves swelled, or the wind gusted to gale force, or maybe the storm surged to perilous proportions.
And he began to sink until Jesus pulled a Samwise Gamgee and yanked him up out of the water. (for you Lord of the Rings fans)
And now we get to the most important 8 words of the whole story…
"You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"
It’s this little question of Jesus that is most troubling to me "You of little faith…why did you doubt?"
· Seems a bit rough don’t you think? Dude got out of the boat, no one else did! Maybe Jesus should cut him some slack and give him some props. At least he tried!
· What are we to make of this mild put down…
"You of little faith…why did you doubt?"
Before we examine Peter and this encounter let’s get personal – How do YOU do in storms? How is your faith?
For instance…When you hear these quotes how do you react?
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” Corrie ten Boom
My guess is most of us would nod with agreement – maybe even an “Amen”
Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
again…yes! I agree
“Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees, And looks to God alone; Laughs at impossibilities, And cries it shall be done.” Charles Wesley
Laughs at impossibilities…yes! That stirs your heart doesn’t it? And because you so whole heartedly agree with these profound statements of faith you think you have it when in fact you don’t.
The truth is that in the storm (maybe the one you’re in right now) your soul meter is indeed pegged on anxiety isn’t it?
Faith is something we think we have until one day we’re shocked that’s it’s gone…that’s what happened to Peter:
Peter clearly had a rudimentary faith. Jesus did not say “oh you of no faith?
· Peter had some faith…you might it an overconfident faith
· Peter was indeed cocky and self-assured…
Some of the bold statements of Peter:
We have left all we had to follow you!" Luke 18:28
"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!" Matthew 16:16
"Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will!" Matthew 26:33
"Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you!" Matthew 26:35
"Lord, since it’s you tell me to come to you on the water!" Matthew 14:28
Peter was verbally confident and certainly believed he believed. He was sure he had faith!
Yet - …when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink,
Faith enough to act – get out of the boat - but not enough to continue through the storm
The fact is – Peter had problem with storms…with sudden state of peril…when the wind kicked up badly it unnerved him
Ø there’s this incident
Ø there’s his over reaction in the garden when Jesus was being arrested– slicing off a guys ear.
Ø and his infamous the 3 denials the night of Jesus’ trial
Peter had an initial burst of faith that when confronted by storms quickly faded.
This is our problem isn’t it?
· Why is it, for instance, marriages turn south and the first thing to go is your faith…God can’t fix this mess…I’ve heard ridiculous things said “God just wants me to be happy”. I feel closer to God than ever since I left my wife/husband.
Storms are the big revealer of faith aren’t they?
· Illness – we put far more confidence in our stellar medical system than in the power of faithful prayer. We turn doctors into gods and God into an also ran.
· The storm of depression too often slams the door on faith and kicks open the door of addictive behavior.
When the storm comes we see just how rudimentary was our faith.
· Oh you have faith… but it’s rudimentary faith – little faith – elemental faith – Stage 1 faith if you will.
· Where do you get Stage 2 faith – courageous faith – grown up faith – mature faith – storm riding faith?
Here’s a beautiful thing…we can learn from Peter who in just a few short months grew his faith to storm riding proportions… went from a man of little faith to one of epic faith.
Within months of this story on the sea he faced:
Ø the storm of arrest for healing a man - stood strong and courageous in front of religious leaders
Ø the storm of persecution and threat of execution from those same leaders
Ø the storm of criticism from the church for associating with gentiles
Ø the storm of imprisonment
Ø the storm of theological controversy
It’s a different Peter we see…why? What happened? Where did he suddenly develop a Stage 2 Faith?
The tipping point of faith in his life was the account of Acts 2.
· weeks after Jesus dies, raises, disappears – The Holy Spirit for the first time in history inhabits – permanently - human beings…including Peter
Peter was, from that point on, a man possessed. A man filled. A man owned. A man indwelt. A man inhabited by the very presence of God. And he started to live like he was.
· he had access to the mind of God
· he had the support of a Spirit that would know how to pray when he couldn’t
· he had at his beck and call an internal storm guide who would walk him through the toughest moments
That changed him. As did one other thing. I think he started remembering – rehashing his 3 years with Jesus…
In a letter attributed to him many years later we have this: We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 2 Peter 1:16
Eyewitnesses…he saw with his own eyes…and pondered over and over again what he experienced…
- He remembered the Jesus changed water into wine John 2:7-8
- He was there when Jesus healed the nobleman's son (from a distance) John 4:50
- He witnessed the deliverance of many demons delivered with just a few words Mark 1:25; Luke 4:35
- It was his own mother-in-law that Jesus healed! Matt. 8:15; Mark 1:31; Luke 4:39
- He participated in the catch of a great number of fish (nets began to break) Luke 5:5-6
- He observed the healing of a leper, a blind man, paralytics, withered hands, internal bleeding, just to name a few Matt. 8:3; Mark 1:41
- He was just as shocked as everyone else to see Jesus calming a raging sea Matt. 8:26; Mark 4:39; Luke 8:24
- He had to be stunned by the raising of a little girl from the dead! Matt. 9:25; Mark 5:41; Luke 8:54
- He helped in the feeding the 5,000 Matt. 14:19; Mark 6:41; Luke 9:16; John 6:11
- And of course he walked on water with Jesus.
Peter remembered. Frequently. Newly fortified with the presence of the Holy Spirit and energized by the memories of what Jesus had done, of course he was able to navigate the storms from that point on.
· He had graduated…from rudimentary faith to graduate level faith
· From stage 1 Faith to stage 2 faith
It’s time for you to graduate…
If you are going to be able to ride out the storms you will or are facing you’re going to need a more robust faith. And do have it
1st – Like Peter, You must be filled with the Holy Spirit
· surrender your life to him – not once – not twice – but daily.
Go ahead…do that right now!
· and begin to commune with him – solitude, silence, prayer, scripture
2nd you must practice the art of remembering
· Regularly looking back on the history of God’s interaction in your life…
· Keeping a mental track record of his love and care in your life.
o where you’ve seen his hand at work
o when he showed up
o how he did remarkable things
That’s why we gave you that little rock – it’s called an Ebenezer…Hebrew for “stone of help”
Context: After a huge victory for the Israelite army the Prophet Samuel
Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far has the LORD helped us." 1 Samuel 7:12
You’re little stone isn’t as big as Samuel’s but just a potent. It can help you remember the help of God.
So, go ahead…hold it in your hand and do some remembering.
Friends, you will face a storm…and you’re going to need a very robust, mature faith to navigate it so let me remind you…
You’ll have a faith that withstands the storm when you are filled with the Spirit of God and you carefully remember his help in the past.