Tenth Sunday after Pentecost Year A 2020
Grace to you and peace, from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Our text this morning is not the first time in scripture that we have heard that the disciples had been in trouble on the Sea of Galilee. Earlier in Matthews Gospel, in the 8th chapter to be exact, we were told of another time when the disciples had been out on the lake when the wind started to blow and the waves began to roll and the boat that the disciples were in was in danger of sinking.
And like the storm that is recorded for us today, that storm was no little rain shower but a full-blown storm of the variety that could damage ships and threaten the lives of even the most experienced fishermen.
Listen again to Matthew’s account of that first storm: Jesus got into a boat, and his disciples went with him. Suddenly a fierce storm hit the lake, and the boat was in danger of sinking. But Jesus was asleep. The disciples went to him and woke him up. “Save us, Lord!” they said. “We are about to die.”
“Why are you so frightened?” Jesus answered. “What little faith you have!” Then Jesus got up and ordered the winds and the waves to stop, and there was a great calm. Everyone was amazed. “What kind of man is this?” they said. “Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
You may have noticed that on that first occasion, when the storm threatened the lives of the disciples, they became concerned, because as the storm raged all around them and their boat was tossed up and down, Jesus remained asleep in the boat.
But as the events turned out, there was nothing to be worried about, because Jesus was with them and with just a few words the wind and the waves were brought under control.
However, in our Gospel text for today Jesus was not with them and the situation that the disciples found themselves in appeared to be far worse than it had been during that first storm. We are told that this time Jesus had gone off to pray and to be by himself after He had fed the large crowd with five loaves of bread ad two fish.
Yet even as Jesus attended to His own needs Jesus was aware of what was happening to His disciples. And as Jesus sat alone high up on the mountain top, He knew that His disciples were in danger.
And so early in the morning Jesus went to be with His disciples and walked towards them on the sea. But when the disciples saw him, they were terrified and thinking that they were seeing a ghost they cried out in fear.
But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” And Peter, recognizing the voice, answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” And Jesus answered: “Come.”
And Peter stepped out of the boat and onto the sea and began to walk towards Jesus. But when reality set in, and Peter noticed the strong wing, he became afraid and began to sink, and cried out to Jesus, “Lord, save me.”
And Jesus immediately reached out His hand and caught him and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
And then they got into the boat and the wind ceased and everyone on the boat worshipped Jesus and proclaimed, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Now I don’t know about you, but I find the text today very comforting because as I read the text I am reminded that no matter what happens during the course of our lives God is present.
We know this to be true, because when we were baptized, God promised that He would always stand by us as we journeyed through the wild waves and the turbulent seas in our lives.
But I must point out that the text today does not promise that we will be spared from all fearful situations or that all we have to do is cry out to Jesus and the storms of life will disappear.
For you see scripture informs us that the disciples went on from this experience on the Sea of Galilee and faced many more storms in their lives. As baptized Christians, we too continue to face storms in our lives.
For example: A close friend may be suddenly diagnosed with a terminal illness. Our job may go sour and we sense that soon we could be out of work. Friends still turn against us. A pandemic can show up and create havoc in our world. Schools may suspend in-person classes. Businesses may temporary shut-down. Our scheduled plans can be interrupted or be cancelled.
One minute our lives can be filled with faith and hope, and the next minute be like Peter, and be full of doubt. But Jesus did not reject Peter because his fear replaced his trust in Him. And Jesus does not reject us when our fear and our doubt consume us.
Our text informs us that when Peter could not go to Jesus, Jesus went to him and to all who were in the boat that day. When we cannot go to Jesus, Jesus comes to us and climbs into our situation and offers us peace and hope.
Even when the storms of life appear to be winning out, as it did when Jesus died on the cross, the wonderful gift God gave to us is that Jesus rose from the dead and still is in the boat with us.
And so no matter how dark our lives might become, or how strong the winds begin to blow or how loud the waves roar, there is One in our midst who has overcome the storms that we fear and whose presence offers us courage and hope.
And that person, my friends, is the Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Let us pray: God of hope, when we are troubled by fear and uncertainty, teach us to commit our lives to your care, and to trust in the knowledge of your love and forgiveness, that we may find peace in Jesus Christ our Redeemer. Amen.