Serman for 9th August 2020


Matthew 14:22  God with us in the storms of life

 

How did Jesus do it? How did he manage to deal with the stress of dealing with the Pharisees the Sadducees and the Teachers of the law, the demands of the crowds that followed him, and teach his disciples and maintain his relationship with his heavenly Father while on earth?

Matthew 14:22 to end of the chapter gives a clear pointer of how Jesus lived and possible answers to the above question.  How did he teach the crowds and teach the disciples, and at the same time deal with the multiple needs of all who sought him out?, also this passage teaches us something about the very nature of God and how God allows challenging things to happen even to those he loves.

Matthew 14:22 says “Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side of the lake while he dismissed the crowds.”

Another version of this sentence (an author’s translation in a Biblical commentary) says Immediately he forced the disciples to get into the boat”

In the light of the ensuing difficult waters we can conclude that for his own reasons Jesus let his disciples sail or row into choppy waters. This should help us as we often do not know why suffering comes, but through the Bible, Jeremiah and Job and Isaiah and Moses and Paul had to learn that God sometimes sovereignly lets us go through hard times.

Last week Tricia detailed how Jesus heard about the terrible death of his cousin John the Baptist, the ensuing grief that Jesus went through was his own personal storm (has this happened to you?) even Jesus was not protected from bad things happening.

As Jesus tried to cope with his grief and get some personal space the crowds came and interrupted him and as Tricia taught us Jesus fed them. Now as that grief comes back and as the feeding of the 5,000 and another round of teaching and healing ministry ends Jesus again seeks time and space to pray. As storms begin to gather Jesus seeks out time with his heavenly father. Somehow in the storms of life we too need to carve out time with God, not just fifteen minutes but as Jesus did, a sizable chunk of time.

Practical help:

Find a Holy space (might be the Loo! or the garden shed)

Journal your response to Gods words

Pray.

Praise Spend time praising God for who he is.

Requests  Bring your requests to him

Adoration before you leave your quiet time just adore God for who he is.  (Psalms and music are helpful)

Yes. Agree with God what you have heard from him, journal what you have discovered today

Jesus spent time with God and as he came to the end of his prayer time between 3.00am and 6.00am Jesus somehow sensed his disciples were in trouble

Lake Galilee at that point was 4.5 miles across Mark 6:47 tells us that at this watch of the night they were halfway, so let us call that about 2 miles from shore.

The 12 men were being buffeted by the waves, the word in Matthew 14:24 is similar to that used for torture or torment and is used elsewhere to describe demonic opposition. These were experienced fisherman (not Matthew, but certainly some of them) They were being harassed by the wind and waves and this was no ordinary problem at sea.

How has your week been?

Sometimes we get good weeks, sometime bad ones, sometimes it can seem we are being buffeted by the wind and waves too.

Some of our problems are due to our own sin sometime others sin and sometime there is no rhyme or reason why suffering should come.

As the hymn says “Lift up your eyes to the coming King”

The words of "Rock of ages cleft for me" are in my mind too

1 Rock of Ages, cleft for me, 
let me hide myself in thee; 
let the water and the blood, 
from thy wounded side which flowed, 
be of sin the double cure; 
save from wrath and make me pure. 

2 Not the labours of my hands 
can fulfil thy law's demands; 
could my zeal no respite know, 
could my tears forever flow, 
all for sin could not atone; 
thou must save, and thou alone. 

3 Nothing in my hand I bring, 
simply to the cross I cling; 
naked, come to thee for dress; 
helpless, look to thee for grace; 
foul, I to the fountain fly; 
wash me, Savior, or I die. 

4 While I draw this fleeting breath, 
when mine eyes shall close in death, 
when I soar to worlds unknown, 
see thee on thy judgment throne, 
Rock of Ages, cleft for me, 
let me hide myself in thee. 

United Methodist Hymnal, 1989

 

Out on that sea was the future New Israel 12 men with Peter as head disciple.

They are frightened, wet, cold, and it is night, then they see what they think is a ghost but we the reader of Matthew know that it is Jesus himself and he says it is I or literally as with Moses This is “I am” talking to you

Is not that vintage Yahweh that God has a habit of turning up at the last moment  just when we think that everything is lost.

Mention Jeremiah 32 .17  Jeremiah in the midst of a “storm”, the Babylonians being at the gates of Jerusalem, he buys a field in Anathoth and then God says to him “nothing is too  hard for me” that is what the Archangel Gabriel said 400 years later to Mary when the Romans were in Israel and God says “nothing is impossible for God

Now on the Lake of Galilee in an impossible situation with the disciples harassed beyond their abilities and fear setting in, Jesus comes in the fourth watch of the night ( the same time God appeared and gave salvation and rescue to the People of Israel escaping from Pharaoh’s army and the Red sea opened Exodus 14:24). Just as Jonah was rescued from drowning so too now rescue is on its way

How are you?

How has your week gone?

For some of us weeks come, and moments come when nothing seems to work and for us things get worse (we had to rush our cat to the local vet this week as it was gashed open in a fight!!).  For most of us we don’t face problems on the scale that the good people of Beirut have suffered this last week (many people killed and injured by old stock of Ammonium Nitrate which blew up the Port area) but whether we face peril like Peter did, or a small problem like an ill pet, the principle is the same, in whom do we trust?

Jesus just as he involved the disciples to help feed the 5,000 involves Peter who walks out on the waves to where Jesus is. ("If its you Lord tell me to come out on the water?" )  and Peter walks on water but as he looks at the waves and hears the wind he falters, and begins to sink, then just as we are assured in our Romans reading from Romans 10 that ‘"Anyone who call on the Lord will be saved", Peter is saved and now Team Jesus/Peter walk in unison toward the rocking boat with the amazed disciples inside it. Now Peter does not emerge from this story a hero. Jesus has to rebuke him for his lack of faith "why do you doubt?" asks Jesus, and the word for 'doubt' is the same word used at the end of Matthew when some doubt Jesus really is raised from death.But Peter in his 2 Epistles proves beyond doubt that he learnt from this lesson.He died a hero.

Then it is that the storm ceases as Jesus and Peter enter the boat.

The disciples to a man bow down and worship Jesus "you really are the Son of God".

And then when they reach land Jesus heals all who come to him even those who just touch the edge of his cloak.

So, Jesus does it again. He teaches his disciples a master class about faith in the teeth of adversity.

How are you?

What do you need?

Overcoming fear? Walking on water as it were "rising to a big challenge"

The freedom to worship Jesus, or to touch his cloak for healings, I know I need all of these things. Perhaps like Peter and like me you need faith when the wind blows, and the waves rise up.

Allow God to give you his peace

To increase your faith

And allow you to see Jesus as he really is the Son of God, more powerful than the so-called gods of storm (the Baals of Canaan) Amen come Lord Jesus do the work in me you need to do.

Gracious Father,

revive your Church in our day,

and make her holy, strong and faithful,

for your glory’s sake

in Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

 

 

 


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