International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday December 28, 2014
Purpose: To encounter the miracles of Jesus as a path to worship
Bible Lesson: Matthew 14:22-36
Matthew 14:22-36 (CEB)
(22) Right then, Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead to the other side of the lake while he dismissed the crowds. (23) When he sent them away, he went up onto a mountain by himself to pray. Evening came and he was alone.(24) Meanwhile, the boat, fighting a strong headwind, was being battered by the waves and was already far away from land.(25) Very early in the morning he came to his disciples, walking on the lake. (26) When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified and said, "It’s a ghost!" They were so frightened they screamed.
(27) Just then Jesus spoke to them, "Be encouraged! It’s me. Don’t be afraid." (28) Peter replied, "Lord, if it’s you, order me to come to you on the water." (29) And Jesus said, "Come." Then Peter got out of the boat and was walking on the water toward Jesus. (30) But when Peter saw the strong wind, he became frightened. As he began to sink, he shouted, “Lord, rescue me!"
(31) Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him, saying, "You man of weak faith! Why did you begin to have doubts?" (32) When they got into the boat, the wind settled down. (33) Then those in the boat worshipped Jesus and said, "You must be God’s Son!"
(34) When they had crossed the lake, they landed at Gennesaret. (35) When the people who lived in that place recognized him, they sent word throughout that whole region, and they brought to him everyone who was sick. (36) Then they begged him that they might just touch the edge of his clothes. Everyone who touched him was cured.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
This week’s text falls into a very stressful time in the life of Jesus. Within this same chapter we find Jesus learning of the beheading of his cousin, John the Baptist. And also the swarm of people that had gathered on a mountainside with nothing to eat. Jesus, like us needed some alone time after these events.
Knowing he was to go to the other side of the lake, Jesus sent his disciples ahead in a boat. He knew where they were headed, and he would join them soon.
There were probably several possible ways Jesus could have chosen to join them. And the way he chose certainly needed some supernatural powers. Consider that Jesus went up into the mountain for solitude and prayer, the disciples (right then) took a shortcut across the lake. Darkness comes and Jesus is alone on a mountain, the disciples are several miles out in the lake. Now maybe it was the headwind, encountered in the storm, that forced the boat back to where Jesus was, or maybe walking on water is faster than walking on land. Either way Jesus was able to catch up to them.
By now it is early in the morning, some translations use the term, fourth watch, which is between 3 A.M. and 6 A.M. The light is not great, and evidently these former fisherman were not sleeping all that much, with the storm raging. They were a long way from land and all of a sudden they see an image walking towards the boat. Thinking they were seeing a ghost, they screamed.
How reassuring to hear the voice of Jesus say, “it’s me, don't be afraid.” Peter is picked on a lot, for his boisterous impromptu actions, but the eleven others stayed cowering in the safety of the boat. Peter asks permission to come join him, and Jesus grants him his wish. Whenever we have an opportunity to come into the presence of Jesus we should take it. Peter was able to walk toward Jesus, but like a lot of us when he saw what was around him he started to doubt. Peter’s faith could get him out of the boat, and he should be commended for that. How many of us have started that walk toward Jesus only to look around us and suddenly start falling? Isn’t it nice to know we are just a few words away from being rescued? All it takes is “Lord, rescue me.”
I think Jesus sort of let the others in the boat sweat a little, because he did not calm the storm until both he and Peter were safely aboard, then there was “church.”
Jesus is walking a fine line between being crowned an earthly king, and accomplishing the mission on which he was sent. He is a long ways from Jerusalem, but the reputation of his healing power is growing rapidly. Soon a delegation from Jerusalem would be coming and asking questions. Jesus is never late or early, he is always on time. He would continue to teach and minister to those in need until it was time to head toward Jerusalem and the cross.
As I think about this story and the location, an old hymn comes to mind “The Stranger of Galilee.”