Here’s My Heart: Matthew 14:22-34

Weekly Bible Devotional

“Here’s My Heart”

August 18, 2019

 

Scripture for Sunday: Matthew 14:22-34

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. 25 And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

 

28 Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” 34 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret.

 

Notes on The Text:

Our story for this week takes place at a time of fear and uncertainty for Jesus, his disciples, and all of his followers. In the first part of this chapter, we are told about how Herod Antipas beheaded John the Baptist and had his head presented on a platter. John’s disciples came and told Jesus of the execution. John the Baptist was the one who preached and prepared for the ministry of Jesus. He was his colleague in ministry, a prophet and a teacher. John was killed because he denounced Herod Antipas’ marriage to his brother Philip’s wife while Philip was still alive (a violation of Jewish law). Jesus went by boat to a lonely spot as a direct response to John’s execution. The stories of the feeding of the 5000 and the walking on the sea, in that sense, came at a time of great distress.

 

In this time of great distress, Jesus showed the disciples his resolve to continue to trust God’s care. This is the second story in Matthew’s Gospel involving the disciples and Jesus being out in rough seas. In the first (Matt. 8:23-27), Jesus is asleep in the boat when a storm comes up; the disciples are sufficiently afraid to wake Jesus with cries of, “Save us!” Jesus complies, demonstrating for the first time his command over wind and sea. The second time the disciples are in the midst of their fear, Jesus shows them that his way conquers the ways of fear which are symbolized by the chaos of water.

The symbolism of the sea as chaotic permeates the Bible. In the story of creation in Genesis, God draws back the waters from the waters. The waters also represent the chaos which threatens to break through into the order of God’s creation.  Later on, we hear the story of the flood and its chaos. Then we hear the story of the people of Israel having to cross the Red Sea in order to escape the oppression of Pharaoh. For the early Christians, the boat became a symbol for the church. They understood the boat to be both a place of safety and adventure. In the storms of life, the boat was their safe haven. But the boat was also seen as part of the risk of following Jesus.

The disciples were in the boat filled with fear because of the storm that was battling their boat, their response was that of great fear also. They first think that Jesus was a ghost. Then when Peter joined Jesus in walking on water, that only lasted a few seconds because of his fear. We all love Peter for his enthusiasm. He is the one who often responds and ventures out of the comfort of what is known. Peter is often impatient yet passionate. Peter is full of faith and doubt at the same time. He is the one who swears he would never deny Jesus, but is the one who ends up abandoning Jesus at the hour of his greatest need. Peter is the one who wants to be with Jesus walking on the sea. He is the one who longs to walk in the footsteps of Jesus to conquer the fears of the world and to not falter. His excitement about joining Jesus on this risky adventure carries him through, but not for long! He makes it for a few seconds, but once he becomes aware of the raging dangers around him once more, he begins to sink! This pattern continued for Peter. Whenever he was afraid, he would let his fears derail him from following the way of Jesus. He wanted his heart to be open, and yet fear dominated and closed his heart.

 

FOR REFLECTION:

In July of this year, five of our youth and three of our adults travelled to Indiana for a youth conference that is held every three years. The “Here’s My Heart” theme for this year was a phrase taken from the hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” The theme was about opening one’s heart to God’s love and transformation. We know from our own experience that this is easier said than done. We are born with open hearts to God, to life, to ourselves, and to others. Yet, somewhere along the path of growing up we learn to close our hearts because of hurts and fears that come our way.  We close our hearts to protect them, but the result is that we become unable to fully appreciate and live life as God intends for us to live. We live out of our fears, misplaced attachments, insecurities, or frustrated longings. The challenges of life keep reinforcing our patterns of coping. We may have a period of time when things are going well and we start to trust life again, but then something bad happens or we perceive/experience a threat, and we are right back where we started. That is why we need faith to help us open our hearts once more, but this time not with innocence that everything is going to be okay, but with intentional trust that God will be with us in all of life.

 

The story of Peter’s attempt to walk on water is a great example of how we try to open our hearts and how fear makes us close them. Here are three invitations from this story to help us open our hearts.

  1. Accepting Yourself: Peter struggled with thoughts of doubt. At first, he was able to do what Jesus did but then started to sink when thoughts of doubt about himself came to his mind and he believed them. The world puts so much pressure on us to fit in and to be accepted. We know this struggle all too well. We judge ourselves and our mistakes. We compare ourselves to others. We even reject parts of ourselves or hide them from others for the sake of fitting in or being esteemed by others.
  2. Accepting your neighbors and those around you & Accepting your Community: Jesus accepted Peter and did not reject him because he failed. The disciples accepted Peter along the way. They did not give up on him or on each other. In fact, witnessing the transformation that took place in Peter’s life transformed them.
  3. Accepting God and the invitation to go out and share the good news of God with others through love and service: Peter offered his heart to God and to continue the mission of Jesus in the world. He became the rock upon which Jesus built his church. When his heart became open, he offered it up to God to be used. When we offer our lives to God, we are transformed to go and share the love of God in the world wherever God leads us, even beyond our comfort zones.

 

Walking on Water

by Macrina Wierkehr

Come, walk on the water with me!
I’m in the mood for impossible things!
Take out your heart of courage,
A lamp amid your fears
And walk on the water with me.

Let’s touch everything we see
And change it to hope
Our hearts let’s change to flesh
No more stones of apathy for us.

Let’s look at everything that could be
Believing it will be
If we dare to walk on water
Scared and hopeful.

Come, walk on the water with me!
Let’s wrap our fears in hope.
Across these waters we must go
Our lamps of courage high
Scared and hopeful we will go.

At the beginning of this water journey
We’ll be careful
But not too careful.
Being too careful is for the very scared.
The Kingdom of Heaven is not found

In being overly cautious
But in taking chances.

 

Come, walk on the water with me!
Hold high your lamp of courage
Put all your doubts away
Let’s take a chance on staying up.

Come, walk on the water with me!
I’m in the mood for impossible things.
I feel scared
Because it’s impossible
I feel hopeful
Because it’s not impossible
So, scared and hopeful
We will walk.

Come!

Walk on the water with me!

 

 

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