Reflections On Matt 14:25-33: Evading Constant Stereotypical Leanings

Mt 14:25 During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.
Mt 14:26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
Mt 14:27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Mt 14:28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
Mt 14:29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
Mt 14:30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Mt 14:31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” n he said, “why did you doubt?”
Mt 14:32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.
Mt 14:33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

I’ve heard my share of messages and devotional reflections concerning this passage from preachers back home who have constantly reflected, taught, preached and applied the same old stereotypical points that seem to be either glued or read into the passage. There is nothing wrong with this but when it becomes an annoying message where whenever you simply hear someone reading this passage and attempting to preach or teach from it you start to think, “Oh here we go again…” kind of thought, something must be wrong.

I’ll try to avoid the normal way of understanding this passage though: Setting our eyes on Jesus and not on our problems. Again there is nothing theologically wrong with this statement but just to avoid stereotypical reflections lets reflect on it in another way shall we. (hence the “evading” thrust of this post)

Earlier if one reads the preceding context before we arrive at the passage we are focusing, we read the story where Jesus miraculously fed a vast crowd of people. No ordinary man could have done what he did, Jesus multiplied what looked to be an impossible task: from five loaves of fish, it was multiplied to even an excess of five full baskets left of food. Surely someone living in that particular moment, especially the disciples must have thought, who is this guy who does these things? He must not be some ‘ordinary’ fellow. So in the preceding passage leading onto where we will reflect, there is a thought that goes around to ‘who’ this Jesus is, someone who could multiply elements out of ‘thin air’ (just an expression)!

So now when we move to the passage of Matt 14:25-33, we find ourselves reading that the disciples saw a figure walking on the water. I’m trying to imagine that particular moment. It must have been a sight. Obviously, such a sight would eventually instill fear because it was out of the ordinary. But the figure called out to them not to be afraid and that it was Jesus. Now here we have Peter, who is always the enthusiastic one calling out for further confirmation, Mt 14:28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” At that Jesus responded “Come”. So here we find Peter getting out of the boat and he literally walks on the water. Peter in asking for confirmation was specific in what he asked, “tell me to come to you on the water.” Think about that for a moment. Peter did not just say “tell me to come to you” and stop there, he was telling Jesus, “If it is really you, show me that I can do the same thing as well when you call me to come to you.”

Jesus’ response to say “Come” and the evidence that Peter was in fact walking on the water proves to Peter in what he asked for that it was indeed Jesus. Now here is the crucial part of our reflection. It is where Peter, instead of focusing ‘on’ Jesus as we generally hear people tell us, Peter saw the “wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink” he then cried out to Jesus to save him. Now some think that Jesus was at somewhat a far distance from Peter but reading the passage it seems otherwise. With the part where it says in verse 31 “Immediately he reached out his hand” tells us that Jesus was very near. Now it makes sense that Jesus asked Peter in a somewhat ironic tone “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

Lets gather our thoughts again…

1. A figure is seen walking on water. Disciples are afraid. Figure calls out saying it is Jesus.

2. Peter tells Jesus to prove it to him by telling him to come to him on the water, just like what Jesus is doing.

3. Jesus says come. And Peter comes and he walks. He got what he asked for and that confirms that it is Jesus.

4. But Peter doubted and he was sinking.

5. Jesus was near and just put out his hand and pulled Peter.

6. Jesus asked Peter “why did you doubt?”

Now looking at it in this dimension I hope you are still following me on this. The question arises, and an important one at that based on the situation, why did Peter doubt? Or to make it more clearer to us what was Peter doubting about. Or more explicitly Who was Peter doubting?

We read earlier and like what point number 2 and 3 tells us Peter was doubting in Jesus. He somehow forgot what he asked for the, the confirmation that if he could walk on the water it was Jesus. He could and that was enough but he was then hearing more the voice of some strong force, the wind that might have blown strongly, and reasoned by natural logic that he was going to drown. Somehow Peter forgot what he asked for and the one in whom he asked for it; Jesus.

And with all that in play comes, for me the clincher, verse 33 on where the reflection falls into place. The concluding statement that tells us that Jesus was no ‘ordinary man’. He could multiply food, walk on water, caused someone to do the same, and was unafraid of the storm. It must have been a sight that Jesus walking on the water while there was a storm. So, when he and Peter arived on the boat all the disciples could say about what they say was “Truly you are the Son of God.”

In concluding, this passage is telling us about the divinity of Jesus. He was more than ordinary. He was as the culminating conclusion that the disciples declared  was that “Truly you are the son of God.” This to me is the main thing to be seen from this passage. All other are secondary.

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