Title: Jesus calls you to come!
Text: Matt. 14:22–33
28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
“The waters have risen and severe storms are upon us, but we do not fear drowning, for we stand firmly upon a rock.”
These are the words of St. John Chrysostom, patriarch of Constantinople, from a sermon preached around 400 AD. He was sent into exile by the Empress Eudoxia for his faith … which led ultimately to his death.
“Let the sea rage, it cannot break the rock. Let the waves rise, they cannot sink the boat … of Jesus. What are we to fear? Death? Life to me means Christ, and death is gain. Exile? ‘The earth and its fullness belong to the Lord. The confiscation of goods? We brought nothing into this world, and we shall surely take nothing from it. I have only contempt for the world’s threats, I find its blessings laughable. I have no fear of poverty, no desire for wealth. I am not afraid of death nor do I long to live, except for your good. I concentrate therefore on the present situation, and I urge you, my friends, to have confidence.”
Fear can consume us all. Whether it be financial, personal or medical. The Rock upon which our faith is built is Christ. He is the rock of refuge. He is the place of comfort. He is the pavilion of rest. He is the gift of mercy. Upon this rock …
Jesus calls you to come!
22 Immediately [Jesus] made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.
Jesus compels the disciples to leave. Maybe there was unwillingness on their part but Jesus made them get into the boat. He dismisses the crowds and then as is consistent with Jesus, no matter the crowds or the work or the distractions … Jesus prays.
When evening came, he was there alone
By this time … the boat was a far way off. The wind and waves were against it and the disciples … as life at times can be.
Just a few weeks ago, the storms came through Waterford, wind rain and hail. Tree limbs were broken, homes and cars damaged, power for some … lost.
You too have experienced storms. Storms can come without warning and fear can be greatest in the depth of the night.
25 And in the fourth watch of the night.
Jesus spent almost the entire night, after the disciples departed, in prayer. The fourth watch would be late, between 3 AM and 6 AM. It can be the darkest part of the night or just before the grayness of dawn gives way to morning, and the disciples were fighting against the waves of the sea and the wind which were against them.
[Jesus] came to them, walking on the sea.
If you’ve ever been up most of the night you might understand the disciple’s distress. The wind, the waves and … they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear.
As a pastor, I get to visit quite a few people at the hospital. Some are dealing with minor procedures while others have grave and serious concerns. It is always a joy to be asked to pray for those who need a comforting word at this time of great worry and fear. Christ brings that type of peace.
A friend, who is a pastor, was talking of a visit he was called on. He said as he visited a man in the hospital who was about to undergo a surgical procedure, the man asked for prayers for a good result. The pastor replied with these comforting words, “Bill, your surgery is already a success! As a child of God you will either wake up in this world because the Lord has more for you to do or you'll wake up in Heaven which is far better.’ Fear not!”
Now, while I’m not yet comfortable in employing this same bedside manner, the truth of his words bring fear to its knees as we triumphantly stand on the blessed hope of the Rock of our faith Himself, Jesus Christ our Lord.
It is He who says: “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
Peter, standing on this hope calls out:
“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Now the disciples, who believe it is a ghost and are in the midst of great fear, see Peter who has his eyes focused of Jesus. At times, Peter is also known to speak his mind before he thinks through what he is saying. He could have called, “Come Lord, calm our hearts and this boat.” But, in the joy of his faith he asks Jesus to call him.
In the midst of your trials as well, you too depend on Jesus. You want your healing now, you want problems solved, you want it, and you want it now … don’t you? We all do, and we all at times forget Jesus on whom we trust when things are going well. We get distracted, we lose focus and we take our eyes … off Jesus.
Peter did as well.
29 [Jesus] said [to Peter], “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and … came to Jesus.
Can you imagine? Jesus called Peter to come to him. So he got out of the boat and walked on the water. Many today write off the miracles of scripture. There needs to be a logical or rational answer. No one can walk on water they say … not Jesus … not Peter … not anyone. But we take the word upon the literal sense that is intended, understanding God’s intended lesson for you and me.
30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”
The distractions of the wind and the water caused Peter to lose focus of Jesus. He stopped looking at Christ and his word of assurance but saw only the water and wind and as he began to sink, fear caused him to no longer see Christ. Apart from God’s word of forgiveness and the power of the Holy Spirit you too would sink in the despair and weight of your sins to the depths.
But, Jesus calls you to come!
31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of [Peter], saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Jesus will not let you sink from his presence but has promised:
… that I should lose nothing of all that the Father has given me, but raise it up on the last day. (John 6:39b)
And, Paul in our epistle today says: 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
The trials of life and the storms that attack us can’t diminish the Love of God for you his beloved redeemed children.
32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
You, dear friends are in the boat! Rejoice in the wonderful joys of standing on the Rock, which is Christ Jesus our Lord who called you to himself.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit!