I recently spoke to 128 middle school campers at Pine Lake Camp in Eldora. The theme of the week was the event of Jesus walking on water, which is found in Matthew 14:22-36.
This is one of those stories that many people love, yet wrestle to know how it applies to their lives today.
Some see this account as God’s instruction guide for how to impress their friends at the lake. Others read it to mean that the quality of one’s faith can be measured by their ability to do the supernatural.
Honestly, I don’t think either of these views are correct. I know many who have a deep faith in Jesus, however none have managed to walk on water (or at least they haven’t told me that they have).
Well, if these views are wrong, what is it that God wants us to learn from this passage?
The passage begins with Jesus putting the disciples in a boat and sending them out to the other side of the lake. Strong winds arose and after hours of rowing they found themselves barely half way across the lake.
In the midst of the wind and the waves, and in the middle of the lake, Jesus came to them walking on the water.
As Jesus approached them, the disciples were afraid. They were viewing Jesus through the lens of their circumstances. Jesus responded to their fear by speaking the truth of who He was. Jesus called out, “Take courage; it is I. Don’t be afraid.”
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A more literal reading of Jesus’ words “It is I,” would be “I AM.” If you don’t know, “I AM” was the name God called Himself throughout the Old Testament (i.e. Exodus 3:14), and this reality gives clarity to what Jesus was doing. He was making a claim the He is God in the flesh. Despite the disciples circumstances Jesus wanted them to understand the truth about who He was.
Peter responded, “Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus said, “Come.”
We don’t know how far, or for how long, but in faith Peter stepped out of the boat and walked on the water until his focus shifted back to his circumstances and in fear he began to sink.
Peter then called out to Jesus to save him, and Jesus did.
Jesus and Peter then got into the boat, and upon entry the wind calmed and the disciples responded by worshiping Jesus, saying “Truly you are the Son of God.”
This account has a lot to teach us about who Jesus is and how the lens through which we see Jesus will radically impact our lives. If we view Jesus through the lens of our circumstances, we’ll often live life in fear and not desiring to draw close to Jesus. However, when we see Jesus through the lens of the truth of who He really is, we’ll desire to draw close to Him, no matter what we are facing.
What does your life declare about which lens are you viewing Jesus through?