10th Sunday after Pentecost – A (Proper 14) LSB #’s 502, 722, 820
Text – Matthew 14:30
But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, & beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”
SEEING THE WIND
How much do you trust Jesus? Would you get out of the boat if Jesus called you? Fear is a part of life & all human beings are confronted by it on many different occasions. From your experiences, what does fear do to you? Does your stomach get queasy? Do your palms get sweaty? Does your heart rate increase?
“But when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, & said, ‘It is a ghost!’ & they cried out in fear.” (Matthew 14:26 ESV) These were strong men in the prime of their lives, & they are trembling with fear at the sight of something walking on the sea. To top it off, whatever it was, it was rapidly gaining on them.
Putting ourselves in their shoes, this happens somewhere between 3:00 & 6:00 AM. You can imagine it’s rather dark out there in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. There are no electric lights anywhere & they’ve been rowing against the wind through their entire trip. After an exhausting day & night they probably aren’t feeling overly confident.
They see a thing that even well-seasoned fisherman have never seen before. Something is walking across the water & appears to be coming after them. Once they cry out, “…immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.’” (Matthew 14:27 ESV) Would you believe Him? How much do you trust Jesus?
Peter got out of the boat at Jesus’ command, but once he saw took his eyes off of Jesus & saw the wind, Peter’s fear returned. The power & wisdom of His Lord did not change one bit. Jesus had not lost any of His ability to control the sea or to protect Peter. What did change? It was Peter, wasn’t it? His courage melted & his trust in Jesus evaporated. You can guess how that applies to the experiences of our lives. The moment we take our eyes off of Jesus what happens? No matter how often we think of His words, “Do not be afraid,” the instant we take our eyes off Jesus & see the wind our trust in Him fades away.
Jesus has been seated at the right hand of God ruling the world for a few thousand years now. He is still intervening in our lives, even this very moment, through the power of His spoken Word. That almighty Word rescues us from sin & damnation just as surely as it rescued Peter from drowning. You & I have no reason, ever, to be afraid. How much do you trust Jesus?
More & more today, we hear, & even see, the unbelieving world ridicule people who follow Jesus. They tell us we should keep our faith to ourselves, yet Jesus calls us to be the light of the world & not to hide that light under a basket. People who do not follow Jesus tell us we shouldn’t label certain activities as sin, yet Jesus commands us:
“If your brother sins against you, go & tell him his fault, between you & him alone.” There are people today labeling that as hate speech. They want to lock you up in jail if you do what Jesus tells us to, & that can make us afraid. Their hatred for us can cause you or me to take our eyes off Jesus, in the same way the wind caused Peter to take his eyes off Jesus.
What happens when we don’t trust our Lord? We sink, or we get lost, & if that goes on long enough, we can end up losing faith in Jesus altogether. In the case of Peter, once he saw the wind, & fear came roaring back into his heart, what did he do? He turned right back to Jesus & cried out, “Lord, save me.” And what did Jesus do? He saved Peter.
Jesus isn’t here today to reach out & save you with His hand, but His almighty Word is still here. In John 10:27-28 our Savior tells us, “My sheep hear my voice, & I know them, & they follow me. I give them eternal life, & they will never perish, & no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (ESV) In those verses, Jesus is talking about the fact that not even the Devil can steal us away from our heavenly Father. He’s not saying we’ll never get hurt, or that we’ll never face hardship & trial. Jesus is saying that no one can cause us to miss out on heaven. Only we can cause that to happen by stubbornly refusing, till the day we die, to call to Jesus for help.
There certainly will be many times in this world that we take our eyes off Jesus. We are sinners & that’s what sinners do, but since we are forgiven sinners Jesus will always rescue us when we call to Him for help. Our prayer does not need to be any more elaborate or complicated than the one Peter prayed, “Lord, save me.”
That brings us to main point of this entire event when Jesus comes to them in the dark of night by walking on the water. The weakness & failure of the disciples to trust Jesus serves this purpose, it is meant to highlight, in direct contrast, the identity & power of Jesus so that His mercy & desire to save us might be seen more fully.
Peter fails, but he simply prays, “Lord, save me.” “…immediately [Jesus] reached out His hand & took hold of him…” (Matthew 14:31 ESV) Jesus is God. Only The Creator can walk on water. “And when [Jesus & Peter] got into the boat, the wind ceased.” (Matthew 14:32 ESV) Jesus has revealed Himself to be Yahweh, Creator of heaven & earth.
The disciples have caught a glimpse of the truth that in this man, the saving power of Yahweh – the God of Israel – is embodied: “Truly you are the Son of God!” said the disciples. Because of the times you fail to trust in Jesus, & the times you are more afraid of human beings than of God, you will find yourself asking, “Will Jesus save me when I call upon Him?”
The narrative that Matthew records in his Gospel answers that question. Jesus is God so He can save us, & He will save us, even if we have only a little faith in Him. The promises He has made to us He will keep, even now in the present time, as this tired old age still fights against the new age of salvation that has dawned. Jesus entered creation in order to set things right. In His 1st advent, His power over creation was cloaked in weakness. He took upon Himself humanity’s sin & the divine curse of death, only in order to burst forth new as the Lord of life, the Lord over death & everything that would destroy us. He is very God of very God, Light of Light, begotten, not made. He is calling each of us out of the boat each new day.
He promises to bless the poor in spirit & to save on the Last Day when He renews the face of the waters & the face of the earth. After the resurrection & the Day of Pentecost His disciples understood it fully & devoted their very lives to His calling. Jesus’ voice is still heard in the Word of God today. It is strong & filled with love: “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
Because this Jesus died for the express purpose of saving us, all whom He has rescued want to serve Him with the very core of their new being. It is that new being God Himself creates within us when He calls us by name, for we belong to Him.
And when the ‘wind’ of our lives draws our eyes away from Jesus, as we are sinking, by the power of the Holy Spirit we will turn back to Jesus & say: “Lord, save me!” And He will, for even the wind & sea obey Him! Amen.
The peace of God, that surpasses all human understanding, will guard your hearts & your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet