Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Have You Ever Forgotten God? (Part 2)

You remember the story. It is recorded in Matthew 14.

Early in the evening, Jesus miraculously fed a crowd numbering many thousands. After a busy day spent preaching and caring for the needs of the crowds of people, Jesus told his disciples to sail to the other side of the lake while he went to a secluded place to pray.

During the night, as the disciples were sailing on the sea, a storm arose. The storm must have been intense, because these men, several of whom grew up fishing on these waters, were strainingat the oars and were frightened. Can you see the sheets of rain, hear the rolling thuinder, see the flashes of lightning, feel the gales of wind and the sloshing of the waves?

In this desperate situation, Jesus comes out to his disciples, walking on the water. Imagine the sight from the boat. What would you think seeing a man walking across the deep in the midst of a raging storm? The disciples were frightened. These veteran fishermen were frightened, believing the man to be a ghost. Jesus spoke to these frightened men: "Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid" (v. 27).

You remember Peter's reaction. He said, "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water" (v. 28). What was Peter thinking? What motivated him to say this? Was it a statemrnt of great faith? Was he wanting to show himself stronger than the rest? Was he delirious? I'm not sure, but Jesus accepted the challenge: "Come," he said to Peter (v. 29).

Can you see Peter at the edge of the boat preparing to step out onto the turbulent sea? Did he dash out of the boat full of confidence and unconcerned with the dangers of the deep? Was he hesitant, pushing himself to take that first, big, unchartered step? I suspect it took him a moment to leave the safe confines of the boat. First, one foot placed ever so cautiously onto the surface of the water, and then only when his footing was secure was the other leg lifted over the railing of the boat and onto the sea. Then a slow methodical walk toward Jesus.

Do you see Peter's eyes during those first few strides toward Jesus? Are they not transfixed on Jesus, the One enabling this amazing journey across the sea. But, at some point, Peter's eyes wander . . . "he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and began to sink" (v. 30). Peter forgot Jesus and became lost. Peter's failure left him treading water in the midst of a raging storm.

Peter forgot Jesus and became lost.