21 July 2010

Jesus Empowers The Help

Matthew 14:22-33

"You of little faith, why did you doubt?Little faith?  Why didn't Jesus save that rebuke for those who were still in the boat?  Isn't Jesus being harsh to a disciple who was starting to understand what his teacher was trying to do with them?

It had been quite the day for Jesus and his disciples.  It started with the disciples returning to their teacher with excitement in their hearts.  Throughout some towns in Israel, they had been doing what Jesus was doing.  They were healing the sick, driving out demons, giving sight to the blind while proclaiming that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.  What an incredible thing that must have been.  They had been watching in awe the things that Jesus was doing.  And now, they were doing those things themselves.

As Jesus began this debriefing session with them, a massive crowd comes to them.  At first, Jesus tries to move, but then relents and heals the ones who need healing all through the day.  Jesus then feeds a crowd of at least 5000 people with five loaves and two fishes.  When he finished healing people, he dismissed the crowd in order for him to pray alone while his disciples waited for him on the boat.

What a day!  I sometimes lament that Jesus' ministry only lasted three years, but if I had full-on days like this, I would be thankful to last for three years.  Jesus is exhausted.  Jesus prays.  Jesus prays and God sends a storm.  Apparently, there is another lesson for Jesus' disciples to learn on this day.

The fierce storm blows the boat away from Jesus.  The expert fishermen give a futile effort against the strong winds to get back to where they were waiting for Jesus.  Instead of the water craft coming to Jesus.  They see this man, despite the elements and the basic laws of nature, coming to them.

Peter, in a flash of discipleship genius, gets it.  He had been doing the things that Jesus was doing in the days prior.  Why not try it now?  Jesus rewards his thinking and gives an affirmative response to Peter's request to come to Jesus.  And, he is doing it!  Peter is walking on water!

However, the triumph of a young apprentice does not last.  "Reality" sets in.  Peter begins to realise what he is doing and comes to the realisation that he is doing the impossible.  "You of little faith, why did you doubt?

What did Peter doubt?  Jesus?  No.  He had been around Jesus long enough to not doubt Jesus about anything.  What did Peter doubt?  He doubted himself.  He doubted his ability to do what Jesus told him to do.

Here is the lesson that all those who would follow after Jesus must understand.  When Lord Jesus tells us to do something, he will give us whatever is necessary to complete his mission.  The only thing that stops followers of Jesus from doing what Jesus has commanded is our will to do it.  Our doubt in ourselves, couched in all kinds of excuses and justifications, is the only thing that prevents us from doing what Jesus wants us to do.

We live in a world ruled by "survival of the fittest".  We live in a world where many of us are told by multiple sources for multiple reasons that we are no good, that we are not capable of anything.  Then, our loving Father in heaven steps in.  "For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whosoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life.

This is the true miracle of Jesus.  This is the good news.  "Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens is at hand."

Our Father in Heaven, please help me with my unbelief.

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