SER # 10W
FIRST UMC – NEBRASKA CITY
SUNDAY MARCH 8TH 2020
2ND SUNDAY IN LENT
TEXTS: MATTHEW 14: 22 – 34
THEME: WALKING WITH JESUS IN THE STORMS.
Today is the second Sunday in Lent. This Lent season we are focusing on a study by Adam Hamilton called “Simon Peter: Flawed but Faithful Disciple.”
After Jesus finished feeding the five thousand, he asked his disciples to go ahead of him that he was to catch up with them later. Jesus took some time off to go and pray up in the mountain side. The disciples left in the boat and it drifted away because of the winds. Then at dawn Jesus came to see them and for him to get to them he had to walk on the water. The disciples were so afraid that they thought he was a ghost or spirit (They believed ghost lived under the sea they were in. Jesus had to calm them down and assure them that he was the one. Then Peter tell Jesus to command him to come to him walking on the water. Then Jesus said to Peter ‘Come.’ Peter started walking toward Jesus on the water. Then Peter saw a big wave coming and he was afraid hence focused his attention on the storm instead of Jesus and he began to sink. He called for Jesus to rescue him and he reached out and held his hand and they went to the boat. A story is told of three pastors who went finishing one fine after noon. It was a Methodist pastor, Presbyterian minister and a Baptist minister. As the stayed in their boats with their line out the Methodist minister decides to get out of the boat to the shore to help himself. He walked on the water to the shore then came back. After a while a Presbyterian did the same. Stepped out walked on water and came back. Finally, the Baptist minister want to get out of the boat. He stepped out and started to sink. He had to swim to get to the shore. After he got out there, he called the other two and inquired how they were able to walk on water without sinking, their response was that “we know where the stones are.”
Peter got in trouble here the moment he removed his focus on Jesus. It was Jesus who was guiding his feet on those faith stones that would not let him sink.
As we read this story, we learn a number of things the encourage our faith.
- Jesus comes at hour of need: Jesus finishes feeding the five thousand and he dismissed them to go home. Instead of getting in the boat he asked the disciples to go ahead and he was going to join them later. The bible reminds us that Jesus went up the mountain to pray. That day there was terrible storm that kept pushing the boat to the lake. At dawn Jesus decides to go and catch up with the disciples and since the boat was away from the shore he had to walk on the sea to get to them. When the disciples saw him walking on water, they thought he was a ghost or spirit. Jesus had to calm them down by reminding them he was the one. The disciples were holding on to their dear lives because the storm was threatening to sink their little boat. We can therefore learn the following: a) When are face with all kind of storms in life; loss of a loved job, bad health diagnosis, death of a child or parent, loss of a job Jesus is near. There are all kinds of storms that we face everyday but today we are reminded that Jesus is not far. He will come for our rescue. b) Jesus knows what is happening in our lives and he will always show up at the time of need. c) Though Jesus may not change the storms he will be in the boat with us. Jesus walks on the water to the boat where we are. We have to remember that no matter the situation we are never alone. d) Jesus was watching over them even when he could not see them. As we present our prayer request before God in our services let be assured that the good Lord receives all of them. Each of us wishes that we never ever get caught in the storm of life but the fact is that the storms will always be there. The comforting thing is to always remember our master is riding with us through the storms.
- Leaving our comfort zone: All of us like to operate from our comfort zone. A comfort zone takes many formats. To some comfort zone is where their friends are, to children maybe is where the parents are. To others our comfort zone is where there is less danger. In our story today given what was happening the boat was the comfort zone. True if you like to operate from the comfort zone you are not alone. You are in the good company of the 11 disciples. It was only Peter who was willing to step out. a) Fear makes us not to want to leave our comfort zone. The fear of the known and the unknown. That is why when Jesus get to his disciples who were so scared, he said to them fear not and to Peter he said ‘come.’ b) We are afraid to fail or knowing that we can’t make it. We have to tell ourselves that if Jesus can walk on water I can too. This this because we fix our eyes on Jesus who is able. Peter decided to leave the comfort zone and for a moment he focused on Jesus and he was able to walk on water. Peter trusted that if Jesus called him to do it, he would and he did. c) If we have to walk on water we have to get out of the boat. Many of us would like to walk on water but are not willing to get out of the boat. If you feel like that, you are not alone for you are in the company of the 11 disciples. Peter had worked in the water for many years. He knew that people don’t walk on water. They swim or sink, with the storm this makes it even worse. Swimming here was out of question, yet it was this Peter who is willing to step out of the boat because he trusted Jesus and his word when he told him ‘come.’ The boat according to John Ortberg who wrote book “If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve to Get out of the Boat, said “The fishing boat is a metaphor that represents safety, security, the status quo, and our comfort zone.” (Simon Peter: Flawed But Faithful Disciple By Adam Hamilton P.50 The eleven disciples never even dared step out of the boat but Jesus did not abandon them. He also assured them that he was there for them too. Very often here we point on Peter’s weakness of not focus yet the 11 would not even dare step out of the boat. d) Stepping out of our comfort zones help us experience God in a new way. By Peter stepping out of the boat (comfort zone) he was able to experience how it feels to walk on the water even if it was for few steps. The other disciples never got to experience that. Sometimes Jesus is inviting us to step out of our comfort zone to fully experience his faithfulness. It takes some encouragement to get out of our comfort zone. Like some people may be afraid to donate blood for different reasons (fear of needle, don’t like seeing blood…), or go on mission work outside the home or country, even share a testimony Infront of an audience. By doing the above they might be stepping outside the boat of comfort. My first experience to get out of the boat(comfort zone) was when I was invited by a friend to go a pray for the sick person. I believed in prayer but I never believed God can use me to healing to anybody.”
- Fears keep us from moving: Fear can be paralyzing. We know as human we depend on certain level of fear to stay healthy and safe. Fear of a Lion keep us safe don’t go a pet one even in the zoo. But at the same time there is certain kind of fear that might make us miss to experience God at work. Fear is governed by two buttons “No” button and “Yes” button. It takes courage to press yes button when all what is in us is telling us to press the no button. Peter took real courage to press the yes button while the eleven pressed the no button when it came to the stepping outside the boat. a) Peter had come to trust Jesus even when he was scared. It is faith and sense of God’s call that leads us to press the yes button. b) Walking out in faith does not mean that we understand everything that going to happen but rather we trust enough to press the yes button.
- Rescue me Jesus: Jesus is willing and nearby to rescue us. Simon Peter started well when he stepped out of the boat and fixed his eyes on Jesus. The moment he turned his focus to the storm he started sinking. When we find ourselves sinking; a) Jesus reaches out with his hand and hold us. We can always count on Jesus to come to our rescue. b) When we allow fear to guide us it takes our trust and faith we start sinking. It was Thomas A. Dorsey who wrote the popular song after he lost his wife Nettie when giving birth. The song is “Precious Lord, Take my hand” (UMH # 474) Adam Hamilton reminds us that part of this Lyric takes us back to our story of the storm today, “Through the storms through the night/ lead me on to the light” Jesus even today walks on water to rescue us of little faith. When storm of life come Jesus invites us to himself and in his hands we will be safe. Jesus walks with us through the storms even when the come at the middle of the night as sometimes they tend to.