Matthew 14:22-33; Mark 6:45-52; John 6:14-21
Take Heart; It is the Lord
Today’s lesson is the account of our Lord’s walking on the water. But before that, we note that he sent the disciples off in the boat while he dismissed the crowd he fed earlier that evening. John notes that some of the people, noting the miracle of feeding more than five thousand in the middle of a field, wanted to take him by force and proclaim him king. Jesus would have none of that. Oh, Jesus is a king, alright; King of kings and Lord of lords, to be exact (Revelation 19:16). At the present time, his kingship and kingdom is invisible, but one day it will be visible for all to behold (Philippians 2:9-11; Revelation 19:11-21). Until then, we walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).
Having dismissed the crowd, and eluding the approaching abductors, Jesus went to a mountain to pray. All three gospels record this. We must never forget that Jesus was constantly seeking time to commune with his heavenly Father. The gospels only record a few of those times, but it is obvious that our Lord sought out lonely places to pray on a regular basis. In this case, he had prayed all night, as Matthew and Mark report that it was in the fourth watch that he came walking on the water to his disciples, who had been rowing against the wind all night. The fourth watch was Roman time, and it meant between 3:00 and 6:00 a.m.
Well, as was stated, Jesus, who saw his disciples struggling, approached them walking on the sea. They cried out for fear but he said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” These are crucial words for us to hear from our Lord. We must learn to take heart, to have courage, not as something we muster up, but as confidence in our Deliverer and Friend. He reminds us, “It is I.” The Lord’s most precious promise to us is that He will be with us (Exodus 3:12). Matthew records Peter’s attempt to walk on the water to Jesus. We all know the story: he does fine while he is walking towards (read: looking at) Jesus; but when he takes his eyes off of Christ and instead beholds the wind and the waves, he begins to sink. “Lord, save me,” he cries, and, of course, the Lord does. So here we learn to never take our eyes off the Lord so to watch the storms instead. We will sink every time. There are too many storms in this life, too many trials, too many temptations, too many doubts and fears. The flesh, the world, and the devil will not let us pass by easily. But if we keep our eyes on Jesus, knowing that the One who died and rose again is the One who loves us and reaches out to save us, we too shall confess over and over, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”