196; Matthew 14:22-36; Imitating Jesus
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This may be more than I bargained for?
I imagine many could an
Much more than we expect.
How do we identify genuine Christianity.
I had two goals for this year at SC3. First, establish foundations. Second, to move us in a missional direction.
I’m convinced, both biblically and in peace of heart, that it is the right thing to do. But I also believe I have struck a nerve! In the past three months I have heard more push-back and seen more ambivalence that I have in the past 4 1/2 years.
What I mean by that is this; when we hear God’s Word about a topic and our first thought is to think of someone else or assume our situation is so different that surely that doesn’t apply to me. That won’t work in my scenario:
My family is too messed up to share the gospel withd
Forgiveness is too hard.
Church unity is unrealistic
Little sin aren’t really a big deal in light of other people’s sin
My neighborhood is too bad.
My co-workers are too pagan.
My finances won’t allow me to trust God.
Maybe that’s for others, but not for me. That’s not following Jesus. If you’re uncomfortable; good news, we’re just getting started.
I love you enough to tell you the truth. So when we hear God’s word today, let’s agree to operate under the assumption that God is right and his plans for our lives are good.
When God calls you to something he will equip you to get it done.
Also, my intention isn’t to give you a hard time but to encourage you that following Jesus means following the path he would walk.
Please open or turn on your Bible to
Lets step into the text. Jesus just fed thousands with hush puppies and fish sticks. Think about it: He just held the first communion service. The disciples are pumped! They had to be thinking; this is awesome! We’re with Jesus, we’ll on the gravy train forever! They’re walking along singing; Where you lead me I will follow.
But then the night comes and Jesus is no where to be found.
This text has made me uncomfortable, so I intend to pass that along!
People flocked to Jesus because he could provide. Feed me, heal me, help me, fix my marriage. Those aren’t necessarily bad things.
Hoping Jesus will fix your problems, or even having Jesus fix your problems, doesn’t equate to following Jesus.
Today in the text we’ll see the extent of discipleship. We’ll encounter two miracles: 1 Key to both miracles.
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
For some reason, Jesus forces the disciples to leave. Maybe he doesn’t want them to get caught up in hysteria. Later in the text we get the idea they don’t understand what has just happened. The crowds get the lunch, the disciples have a deeper lesson coming.
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
He sends them off and then dismisses the crowds. You can almost see Jesus standing in the back, greeting folks as they leave.
Jesus stands at the back and greets folks as they leave.
Then Jesus gets off by himself to pray for a bit. Maybe he prays about the people he just fed. Maybe he prays about the scenario he is setting up for the disciples.
Jesus is praying; the disciples are rowing.
Later that night
The Sea of Galilee is prone to getting rough quickly. The disciples are out there dealing with the waves. Heck, Jesus sent them out there, at least he could have made it smooth sailing! The word that translates as “buffeted” can also be translated “tortured.” This is a real deal.
We tend to assume that if God is in something, it’s going to go smooth. You’ll never prove that from the Bible! And all the while, the disciples are rowing. They had to be wondering, where’s Jesus when we need him!
Just before dawn, Jesus walks out to them. Don’t act like it wouldn’t be creepy! Jesus He literally walks on the waves. The Sea of Galilee is 200 feet deep, and he’s standing on it! You’d scream too.
Typically Jesus’ miracles are in response to a need. This one is different.
Consider the flow of the text: just before this he feeds multitudes and just after this, he heals sicknesses. Right here in the middle, he gets the disciples alone and shows them the reality of his great power and their responsibility. That’ll be clear in just a bit.
No wonder they were terrified.
The Key to both miracles
The Key to both miracles
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Jesus doesn’t tell them to ignore the storm. Just like the difficulties of life that you and I face, these waves are very real. Instead, he tells them to have courage because he is there.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
Just because we are Christians doesn’t mean that we won’t face the storms of life. I’ve been through a couple of storms. How about you? Experience tells us Christians don’t get to avoid the storms. Or as the Bible puts it - it rains on the just and the unjust alike.
We don’t get out of the storms but we have a very special promise - . “Our good” means to make us look a little more like Jesus - that’s the goal of the Christian life.
We don’t have to be afraid of the storm. If your life is filled with doubt, fear, or pessimism, I want to encourage you to look a bit closer at the Savior. He is greater! “Take courage”, not my words, Jesus’.
If you’re unconvinced, I’d like for you to look a bit closer at this verse. Jesus only uses three words in the original text.
First - courage! Implication; take courage, don’t fear the storm.
The why is answered in the next two words:
Second and third are especially important - Jesus literally says, “I AM”
I AM who I AM - the name God gave Moses
To Abraham he said, “Do not be afraid, I AM your shield and your very great reward.”
To Isaiah he said, “Do not fear, I AM with you.”
If we are going to follow Jesus to the places he would have us go, if we are going to follow him in the middle of the storm, we are going to have to listen and respond to his words carefully. Take Courage I AM is with you!!!!
Because he is the I AM, he walks on the water he created. Because he is the I AM, the rest of this text makes sense.
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Peter yells, “If its you, tell me to come to you.” He’s afraid as well! But why ask that? Why not ask a trick question that only Jesus would know? What did we have for lunch yesterday? Why that?
“Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
In their culture, the disciple was expected to do what the Teacher did.
Think about it, Jesus preached and did spectacular things, then sent his followers out to do the same. I know what someone is thinking: that was the Apostles. No, he sent out 72. They were expected to do what he did.
The true mark of discipleship is imitation.
That’s why Peter yelled! He knew that if it really was Jesus, he would be expected, and welcomed, to get out of the boat.
I’m asking you to look at your life. Is it marked by the things that mark the life of Christ? Which begs the question; what marked the ministry of Christ?
Is it about
A relentless passion for reconciling people who were far from God with their heavenly Father.
He discipled others
He hung out with sinners
He was willing to face sin and not avoid hard conversations
The question I’m asking myself is: if these don’t appear in my lives, is it fair to call myself a disciple?
But it’s scary - I get it. That’s why Jesus says, “Courage! I AM.” As long as we view Jesus through the lens of difficulty and hard scenarios, we’ll always be stuck in the boat with an oar in our hands. When we see the difficulty and hard scenarios through the lens of the power and magnanimity of Jesus, we’ll jump out of the boat.
I can almost hear someone thinking: I don’t know if I can do that. I mean, you’re using the example of an Apostle. Isn’t that a bit unrealistic? Hear me on this: God not only specializes in doing spectacular things through ordinary people, he plans for you to be part of his redeeming work. You weren’t simply saved from something, you were saved to something.
But Peter failed! You will too and Jesus will catch you.
Jesus lets us in on spectacular things when we follow him! Peter walked on water!
This isn’t about Peter at all! This is all about the presence and power of I AM. He is here, I don’t need to be afraid.
And don’t miss the obvious; Peter’s failed. He had enough faith to get out of the boat but he didn’t have enough faith to stand. He got overwhelmed by the problem and lost his focus on Jesus.
You will too. When you do, Jesus will catch you, And with a gentle rebuke, he’ll use that failure to teach you to trust him more! Remember .
Jesus grabs Peter by the hand and helps him back into the boat. Then technically, a third miracle happens. The wind stops without him saying a word. I imagine it’s out of respect.
Then, in light of the great I AM they worship. Following Jesus always leads to worship - that’s the safest place a disciple can be.
Proper service leads to worship
I want to challenge you today. Is there a place in your life that is off-limits for Christ? Are you willing to walk the path of discipleship.
Is it forgiveness? Hear the great I AM today say, “forgive and you will be forgiven.”
My family - neighborhood - workplace is too messed up. Hear the great I AM say, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you."
Is it in tithing? Hear the great I AM say, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.
Is it laying down your rights in the church for unity? Hear the very Son of God pray to God the Father, I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent mean have loved them even as you have loved me.”
To be a disciple is to imitate the Lord, it is to walk the way he walked.