Matthew 14:22-36: Out of the Boat
February 11, 2021
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Perhaps one of the most famous miracles of all dominates the passage in front of us this morning: Jesus walking on water. Many people have wondered whether it is really possible. Could it be possible that someone would walk on water? I have read, or heard, discussions about the properties of water and the physical mass of a human being, and the various discussion about how such a feat could be achieved. But all this is so much nonsense: the point of Jesus walking on water is that it is not possible—not humanly possible, anyway. That is why, at the end, they worship him as the Son of God (14:33).
The primary purpose of this encounter, then, is to show us that Jesus is far more than a mere miracle worker—impressive enough as that would be. He is God incarnate, the very Son of God.
At the same time, though, there is another theme that works through this amazing encounter, and that is what it takes to respond to Jesus in faith, even in the midst of difficulties and trials. Peter had the right idea; he asked to be called out of the boat. We should not go where Jesus does not command us in his word. It is not faith to jump off a building or go where we are not commanded to go; it is presumption. But when faced with challenges of obedience—leaving a relationship with a girlfriend who is not a Christian; quitting some ungodly habit; doing something that God has commanded us to do in his Word; sharing the gospel with a friend—then we are commanded out of the boat, and the key is to do what Peter did at first: keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. Once we begin to look at the wind and the waves, then we begin to sink. The Christian life, at its best, is parallel to walking on water; we are called to a life of sexual purity, to a life of using our time for a level of productivity, these things that in our own nature, and by our own strength, and by all realistic normal (fallen) levels of life are not usually possible. But with our eyes fixed on Christ, then we find that we can “walk on water.”
The sick who are healed in Gennesaret in a sense experience the same thing. They merely touch Jesus, and they are healed. Such is the nature of faith; it is not about the quantity of faith, but the quality of its object. Faith in Christ allows us to step out of the boat and begin the most exciting adventure of anyone’s life: following Jesus with radical devotion.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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