Let's recap the lesson from August 13th--it stems from the Gospel According to Matthew, chapter 14. This well-known passage tells the story of Jesus walking on water, but there's more to it than meets the eye. Often, we have a limited understanding of this story, as it appears in multiple Gospels, each with its unique perspective and purpose.
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We have the four Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – and they serve different purposes. Matthew speaks directly to the Jewish community, Mark addresses Gentiles, Luke appeals to those seeking evidence, and John reaches those who feel the presence of God deeply. The story of Jesus walking on water is found in Matthew, Mark, and John, and to truly grasp its significance, we must consider all three perspectives.
Matthew 14 begins with Jesus urging his disciples to get into a boat and cross the lake. But without reading John 6, we might not realize that Jesus was responding to pressure from people who wanted to make him their king. John's account provides the context that enhances our understanding. Likewise, Mark 6 tells us that Jesus insisted the disciples leave, emphasizing their obedience to his instruction.
The disciples faced a storm while in the boat, struggling against the wind and waves. Matthew and Mark detail this challenge, but it's only through John that we learn the disciples delayed their departure until after dark, which contributed to their predicament. This highlights the importance of obedience and following Jesus' guidance.
As the storm raged, Jesus walked on water toward the disciples. In their terror, their perspectives differed – some saw him walking toward them, others believed he was going to the boat, and some thought he intended to pass them by. Fear distorts our perception, hindering us from recognizing Jesus' presence amidst life's storms.
In response, Jesus speaks three words in every Gospel account: "I am here." These words echo through our lives as well. When we're consumed by fear and confusion, we need to hear Jesus' assurance that he is present in our struggles.
In Matthew, we witness Peter's boldness as he steps out of the boat onto the water to meet Jesus. This story emphasizes the importance of a personal relationship with Christ. In Mark, the disciples' collective experience showcases the power of faith and the necessity of actively rowing toward our goals while trusting in God.
John, on the other hand, shows that when Jesus enters the boat, they instantly arrive at their destination. This teaches us that when we allow Jesus into our situations, he can bring us to where we need to be, regardless of the storm around us.
In conclusion, our mission as a congregation is clear: to reflect and reveal the unselfish love of Christ in all that we do. This involves giving priority to those outside our circles, being present in the lives of others, and demonstrating the authority and power to bring calm to storms. Why? because this is what Jesus did. Jesus gave priority to be with the people, and send the disciples away. Then Jesus gave priority to the disciples, while he was in prayer.
We can learn from Jesus' example and prioritize the needs of those around us, even when it means adjusting our plans. By being present and saying "I am here," we can offer comfort, support, and guidance to those in need. Just as Jesus' presence transformed the disciples' situation, our presence and actions can make a significant difference in the lives of others.
So, as we leave here today, let us remember these lessons and carry them into our daily lives. Let us reflect the unselfish love of Christ by extending our hands to those in need and being a source of comfort, guidance, and hope. And let us always remember that Christ's presence is with us, even in the midst of life's storms.
May the unselfish love of Christ guide us and empower us to make a positive impact on the world around us. Amen.
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