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Matthew 14:22-32
Tonight we will be looking at another one of those events that is very familiar. We will be looking at Matthew 14:22-32. But before we go there let’s pray then I will give you a little background before we look at our passage.
Matthew 14:1-12 tells of the death of John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin and the one who went before Him to make way for the King. In verse 13 it says that Jesus found out about His death and got in a boat with His disciples to get away from people (to a deserted place). But the people heard about it and followed Him and He healed the sick then because it was late He sat them down and miraculously fed multitude (5000 men) with five loaves and two fish. We talked about that last week. Then in John’s telling of the event we find out that the people want to take Jesus by force and make Him king. So to set up this event we need to see that Jesus was most likely grieving the loss of His cousin, then there was a mighty work of God in healing people and feeding the multitude and then the attempt to make Him king. What I want to make clear here is that Jesus is fully God but He is also fully man with all the frailties of man. Satan had tempted Him in the wilderness and was defeated by Jesus’ obedience to His Father and it says that he left Jesus until a more opportune time. I cannot think of a more opportune time than when confronted with grief leading to despair, elation with doing God’s work and pride induced by people wanting to crown you. I am not saying that Jesus almost sinned or that He was even temped but I want you to see what Jesus did and recognize that it is the perfect example of what we should do when we are put into a situation to be tempted.
Matthew 14:22-24 22 Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. 23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. 24 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.[1] In light of all that happened that day Jesus needed to get away and spend time with His Father. He literally told people to go away. He was in that deserted place to begin with so that He could be alone and now He was going to do just that. If our goal is to be like Jesus, to be transformed into His image then spending time in solitude with the Father in prayer must be a priority in our lives especially when the world would try to drag you away from Him. But we also need to see that life is not lived in solitude with God. Jesus wanted to be alone but when there was need He met that need even in His own pain. Serving others is not intended to be effortless and painless. But when we are tempted it is time to find a way to get alone with God.
So Jesus sends His disciples away in their boat before He sent the others away. Verse 24 says that it was evening when He was finally alone. Evening to the Jews was between 3pm and 6pm. The boat was a long way from shore (John tells us 3-4 miles [25-30 stadia] out) and the Sea of Galilee is only about 4 or 5 miles wide. So they were well past turning back and a storm was raging. Let’s read Matthew 14:25-31 25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” 28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”[2] The first thing I want us to notice is the time frame. These disciples have been out to sea for quite some time fighting against the wind and the waves; they are exhausted. Matthew tells us that it is the fourth watch which is sometime between 3am and 6am (you can trust me or you can look it up). So if they left let’s say 6pm and it is now 3am (that is the shortest time that this could be) then they had been fighting for their lives for at least 9 hours. And what has Jesus been doing all that time? Other than the 3 or 4 mile walk He has been praying. When I try to pray I fall asleep after 10 minutes (if I last that long). So these disciples that were sure they were going to die at sea because they are most likely too exhausted to continue the fight against the storm look up and see an apparition walking on the tops of the waves and now they are sure they are done for. They begin to cry out in their despair but what does Jesus do? He says “Be of good cheer, God is here”. Ya when HE said “It is I” He was literally saying “I Am is here”. “I Am” is the Hebrew personal name of God. Jesus is not afraid of the wind and the waves because He knows that he has authority over all of His creation. In Colossians 1:16-17 we read 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.[3]
Soon after Raechel and I married she ironed a shirt for me for Sunday morning. I appreciated her help however my response was “Thank you but I like my ironing better”. Immediately I thought to myself “That was the stupidest thing you have ever said”. For the next 20 years I ironed all of my clothes and the kid’s clothes for Sunday morning. I deserved it. I wonder if Peter had that kind of moment when he said “Lord if that’s You command me to come out to You”? But Jesus said “come” so Peter did. And the Master of all of creation did for Peter what only God could do. As long as Peter kept His eyes on Jesus he was able to do what only God can do. What does that say about us? As long as we keep our eyes on Jesus, not looking around at the world and all the shiny stuff, we will be doing the work that only God can empower us to do. Only when our focus is Christ can we do what God has called us to do. Jesus said that without Him we can do nothing. Peter found that out the hard way. He began to look at the waves and wind and he sank. But in his failure he cried out for salvation “Lord save me!” We would do well to learn from what Peter learned when we find ourselves in moments of despair, sorrow, worry, or fear even if we got their because of our own sin or mistakes. When Peter cried out “Lord save me” he was acknowledging that there was nothing he could do for himself. That is the spiritual position our Lord wants us in at all times, not just when we are going under. Jesus reached out His hand and lifted Peter out of the water to stand again on top of the raging waves. But don’t forget that Peter was still wet. “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?” When Jesus does come through and lifts us out of our failures to keep our eyes on Him we still have the consequences of our disobedience but we are indeed saved.
Let’s look at verse 32-33 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.33 Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”[4] Please tell me any other response that would have been appropriate. When you come to the realization that all is lost, that you have no hope and Jesus saves you what else can you do but worship Him? That is the position the disciples were in while the storm was crashing around them and that is the position Peter was in when he began to sink. Jesus saved them and they worshipped Him. Folks if you are a follower of Jesus Christ that was also your position when you came to Him. You were lost, dead in your trespasses and sin according to Ephesians 2 and there was nothing you could do about it. Even worse there was nothing you wanted to do about it. Yet while you were still a sinner Christ died for you according to Romans 5:8. John 3 says that the Holy Spirit moved in your life causing you to be born again, made new and you believed. Tell me, in light of that information, what else can you do but worship Jesus? Romans 12 says that worship is being a living sacrifice obedient to your Lord.
So what we have seen tonight is we are to serve others just as Jesus did, not just when you feel like it or it is convenient. When we are faced with temptation like despair, or pride we must turn to the Father in prayer just as Jesus did. We must live our lives in a position that is like Peter when he began to go under, knowing that there is nothing we can do to glorify God if we take our eyes off of Jesus. When we keep our eyes on Him we can do whatever it is that He has called us to. When we recognize that we can do nothing on our own including save ourselves then our only response must be to worship Jesus and that worship requires our obedience. Let’s pray.
[1] The New King James Version. (1982). (Mt 14:22–24). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[2] The New King James Version. (1982). (Mt 14:25–31). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[3] The New King James Version. (1982). (Col 1:16–17). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
[4] The New King James Version. (1982). (Mt 14:31–33). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
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