Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Walk on Water
Matthew 14:22-32, from Biblegateway:
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Walking on water? Why? Jesus could have simply appeared on, or beside, or above the boat. Physically, walking on water is a challenge. Think ice, but with movement. Was Jesus climbing the waves and surfing down the other side? Where'd he get the gription? The wind is blowing... what kept him from being blown back to shore? It's all a complicated set of physical interactions.
Well, how about for fun? Jesus had been praying all night. I think he delighted in the wind and waves, the dynamism of all that movement, and he wanted to go out there and be part of it. Playing, if you will. He didn't have much opportunity for play.
So, here he comes, ambling or surfing or sandal-skiing. In the dark. Impetuous Peter wants to play too, but lacks Jesus' confidence. That's OK. Jesus has enough confidence for both of them.
Note that Jesus didn't command Peter to leave the boat. Peter asked for an invitation. Classic Jesus.