Jesus Walked on the Water
Our modern world with its technology I think encourages to a greater degree a passive life. Young people now days are less likely to play out and more likely to be on their xbox, iphone or ipad. Friendship is often understood and experienced through social media and this type of excitement or challenge makes no real demands of personal involvement, it may create a kind of sense of relationship but is in fact isolating.
Our systems of food and fuel provision and medical care mean that not only our entertainment but the very necessities of life are available to us without too much direct involvement. Most of us don’t out of necessity have to grow our own food. We don’t have to go out hunting for our meat. We don’t have to make our own clothes or gather wood for our fuel.
The protection that society allows means we are all too often ill equipped to deal with the uncertainties and the disappointments of life. The pains and the uncertainties of life don’t fit easily into our scheme of things and when
we face the storms of life they can so often drown us. The Gospel story of Jesus walking on the water reinforces the reality that Jesus is the one who can calm our troubled waters and sooth our fears. He’s also the one who challenges us to leave our fears behind and take risks.
The disciples had, as Jesus instructed, set off in the boat by themselves and he had gone away by himself to pray. A storm blew up and the boat was in trouble at which point Jesus appeared to the disciples walking on
the water. Their first reaction was to panic, wouldn’t we all panic if someone came up to us walking on water. They were stricken with fear thinking they’d seen a ghost but Jesus reassured them with one of the most wonderful statements he ever made, “It is I, do not be afraid”.
Peter, as usual was the first to react and he dares Jesus to call him across the water. Jesus accepts the challenge with the one word “Come.” Peter walks on the water, however as soon as he becomes aware of the storm
around him again he starts to lose heart, his gaze turns away from Jesus and he starts to sink. Jesus reaches out to Peter with the words, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
How Jesus achieved walking on water is not important in this story, it’s what through this experience it is saying to us today in our time.
Without Jesus we are blown and buffeted about by the storms of life. We often misread the situation and believe we will sink under the pressures of life. We too can be daring and brave and then lose our nerve and need to be lifted up, supported and our fears calmed. Life is real, Jesus is real, but it can take a lifetime to discover this reality. We all need that mixture of support and challenge that Jesus offers. Constant support and nothing else would leave us unable to cope on our own. Jesus had sent the disciples on ahead without him expecting them to cope, however when they found themselves in trouble he was there for them, reaching out to them.
For Christians the most important aspect of our lives is where we focus our attention. If we can build up a strong relationship with Jesus and keep it nourished through prayer and worship. Then we can spot the challenges
God gives us and react to them positively, confidently and imaginatively. This deep relationship doesn’t happen overnight and it isn’t easy, and the sense of storm and despair can easily overtake us. When we lose sight of Jesus and begin to drift or drown all that is asked of us is that we put out our hand for him to hold. There’s no storm in life that Jesus can’t calm, nowhere so deep or so far that he can’t gather us back into his arms from.
Abridged Sermon from Trinity 9
With best wishes
Rev’d Barbara Knight