|Text: Matthew 14:
Between three and six o'clock in the morning Jesus came to the disciples, walking on the water. When they saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. "It's a ghost!" they said, and screamed with fear. Jesus spoke to them at once. "Courage!" he said. "It is I. Don't be afraid!" Then Peter spoke up. "Lord, if it is really you, order me to come out on the water to you." "Come!" answered Jesus. So Peter got out of the boat and started walking on the water to Jesus.
Friends, especially Jacinta and Taran.
Have you ever walked on water? Now that's a stupid question. No one can walk on water. Try to put your weight on water and you will soon find out that water is not meant to be walked on. But today Jesus is challenging you Jacinta and Taran, in fact all of us, to "Come on! Come and walk on water!"
Let's see what Jesus means and look at the Gospel reading for today.
Far out on the lake, between the hours of 3 and 6 in the morning, the weather was rough and the disciples were beginning to think that this was going to be the end. Some of the disciples were fishermen but most of them liked to have their feet on dry land. As if they werenít scared enough by the storm something happened that scared them even more. They saw something or, possibly someone, out there on the water. It was dark but they could see that whatever was out there, was coming towards them across the wild waves. They quickly concluded, "It's a ghost!" The ghost called back. "Hey fellas, calm down! Itís me. Thereís no need to afraid."
When Peter recognised the voice he called out to Jesus, "Lord,
tell me to come out to you on the water."
Jesus simply answered, "Come!"
And Peter did.
Itís not that Peter was so dumb that he didnít know that people arenít able to walk on water. As a fisherman there might have been times when he wished he could walk on water, but he knew better than to try it.
But on this occasion he stepped out of the boat and on to the sea - the sea was tossing and churning - the boat was being lifted up and down with every wave, tossed from side to side with every gust of wind and every wave as it washed over the side of the boat. You would think that would be enough for Peter to have second thoughts about walking on water. He let go of the side of the boat. First one step, then another, and then another. Peter is walking on water just like Jesus!
I wonder how Peter felt as he realised that he was doing the impossible. No doubt he was excited and you can imagine him calling back to his mates in the boat, "Hey guys, cop this! Iím walking on water". Maybe he did a little jig to show them how the water was holding him up.
But his confidence took a dive when he realised that there
was deep water below him. He saw the wind whipping up the water around him.
Suddenly it became clear to Peter.
"I must be crazy. What am I doing out here. People arenít meant to walk on water, let alone take a stroll on water in the middle of a storm".
Peter went down. He called out to Jesus to save him. Then he felt Jesus hand grab his hand and lift him to safety. He thought he was a goner but Jesus was right there and rescued him.
Jesus calls out to you, my friends, in fact he challenges all of us, and calls out: "Come!" just as he did to Peter. He is challenging each of you to walk on water. No he doesnít want you go down to Centenary Lake and to try to walk across it. But what I mean is that he wants you to step out with the same confidence and faith in Jesus that Peter had when he stepped over the side of the boat and put his feet down on the water and found that he could do things that otherwise would have been impossible.
Peter stepped on to the sea because Peter knew how much
Jesus loved him.
Jesus reassures us again and again that his love for us is unquestionable and that he will not stop caring for us and helping us along our journey through life. Jesus can be completely trusted to help us and give us strength in those times when we donít know how we will be able to get through the problems that are in front of us.
Taran and Jacinta, today Jesus is reaffirming his love for you. He says to you today as he did on the day of your baptism, "I will be with you always. My love for you will never let you down".
And just as Peter trusted Jesus completely, to day you are
also expressing your trust in Jesus as your Saviour and helper.
You are saying
that you will love and trust Jesus with everything you have;
that you will not let anything come between you and Jesus.
He will always be number one as far as you are concerned.
You are saying that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. That means that in everything you say and do, you will show that Jesus is first in your life.
Jesus calls to you and says, "Come on, Taran and
Jacinta! Come and walk with me." You answer Jesusí call by confessing your
faith and trust in Jesus and your promise to be his disciple.
You are ready to trust him even though things might get a bit stormy at times.
You are ready to trust him to lead the way when the way ahead is confusing and unknown.
Yes, you are ready to step out and walk on water - you believe and trust in Jesus completely. You are ready to do the impossible.
All of us who have been baptised, confirmed or made a commitment to follow Jesus know that walking on water isnít as easy as it sounds. That was Peterís experience. At first he was okay and full of confidence until his fear was stronger than his faith and started to drown.
He calls out to Jesus, "Help! Save me!" In a flash, without asking any questions, with only love for his drowning disciple, Jesus was there pulling him to the surface of the water.
Wherever lifeís journey will take you always remember this Ė sometimes you will step out full of confidence and faith in Jesusí love for you, and at other times, stepping out will be scary and overwhelming. Whether full of faith or full of fear, Jesus is right there beside you, reaching out to grab you by the hand, putting his arm around you, holding you up, cheering you up and encouraging you.
There will be times when others will try to tell you that
being a Christian is dumb.
You may even try to convince yourself that itís not "cool" to believe in Jesus.
You may become lazy and canít be bothered with the church.
You may become disappointed with the way life has turned out and wished that things could be different.
You will make bad choices that have painful repercussions.
None of this changes the most important thing.
Jesus is your friend and Saviour, he loves you, he is always there to guide and assist you. This has been the one consistent message that you have heard from your teachers while a student at St Paulís school, from your parents and during your preparation for today Ė you are one of God's special people. He loves you. He died for you. He promises to always be near when you need him the most.
Knowing this will have an impact on your life, now and in the future. Knowing the love Jesus has for you will change you. Even those times when you are very disappointed in your own actions or disillusioned about the way things have turned out, you can handle these things because you know that Jesusí love for you never changes.
Later Peter had another experience that left him drowning in guilt. During Jesusí trial he denied having anything to do with Jesus. He did this not just once but 3 times. He had let his love for Jesus be overwhelmed by the opinions of others. Again Jesus loved him, reached out and grabbed him and saved him from drowning in guilt. Jesus will do that for each of us.
To you, Jacinta, Taran (and to all of us), Jesus is saying
"Come walk with me, take my hand and walk on the water with me.
At times there will be things that will frighten you.
There will be times when you will be troubled by doubts and weak faith.
There will be times when you will take your eyes off me and you will abandon your walk of faith.
But remember I am here to help you when your faith is little and to help you do the impossible and be my disciple.
If you sink, I will lift you up and give you the strength to go on.
Remember we are walking together.
So, my young friends, come, and walk with me, on the water!"
© Pastor Vince
23rd November 2008