Wednesday, March 28, 2012

NEED PEACE? CHECK YOUR SHIP'S MANIFEST

Here is the Scripture Passage that I would like you to consider...Matthew 14:22-36

Jesus Walks on the Water

14:22-33pp -- Mk 6:45-51; Jn 6:16-21 14:34-36pp -- Mk 6:53-56

"22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 25 During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." 28 "Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." 29 "Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God." 34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him 36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed." 


I have heard several teachings and preachings on this section of Matthew.  I'm sure many of you have also.  Well, prepare yourself, I have another offering for you.  One of the teachings I have heard and maybe you have too is that we, as believers in Christ, should learn to step out of our comfort zone more and trust in and keep our eyes on - Jesus.  The lesson comes from Peter stepping out of the boat and trusting in Jesus amidst the waves and wind (verses 28, 29) - symbolic of our daily troubles and trials and some extreme challenging times too.  I am sure if I was a disciple and did not know the full capability of this man - Jesus, I would be screaming the same things too.  However, if things are in chronological order here, Jesus just got through feeding five thousand people with only five loaves and two fish.  To me, this event would have been very convincing of His divinity.  What was it about this event that made the disciples worship Jesus?   Notice that?  If I'm not mistaken, this is the first time the disciples acknowledge Jesus properly as who He really is and worship Him before really grasping The Word of God in flesh - Jesus.  That is a wonderful message, but it is not the one that is on my heart to share with you.  It is actually what happened right after Jesus saves Peter that I would like to focus on.  It is pretty simple reading and understanding but it is a great truth - "they climbed into the boat".

Dramatic writing here - I am leaving you hanging, that is only half the truth.  Yes, they did return to the boat and both Peter and Jesus "climbed" in, but it is what happened afterward that caught my spirit and eye (or spiritual eye or all three, ha) - "the wind died down".  Allow me to re-state it this way - when Jesus came on-board the wind, which was the cause of the waves, died down.  You hear the message in my heart already, don't you?  Check your ship's manifest - is Jesus on-board?  When really trying times come, and they will, I encourage you to have Jesus on-board.  

Another Scripture that supports this is an additional boat story found in Matthew 8:23-27.
  
Jesus Calms the Storm 

8:23-27pp -- Mk 4:36-41; Lk 8:22-25 8:23-27Ref -- Mt 14:22-33

"23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24 Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!" 26 He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. 27 The men were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!" 

This is the only time I recall it being documented in Scripture that God slept.  However, the same message applies, even though this time Jesus was actually on-board when the wind and waves hit.  This storm "out of the blue" did not bother Jesus' sleep pattern, so why should it have bothered any body else (hind-sight is 20/20 I know)?  Our mistakes in how we approach major and minor issues in life are symbolized in the first response of the disciples.  They did not seek the Lord, but panicked and probably tried to bail themselves out under their own power.  Sometimes we cannot see the curve in the "curve-balls of life", but when we can, we should "... seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." - Matthew 6:33. 

If for whatever reason Jesus has never been "on-board" I implore you to invite Him not only onto and into your "ship" (body and life), but allow Him to be Captain too!  If for some reason you are a Believer and have strayed or not given much time or thought to Jesus lately and are experiencing some "rough waves" - invite Him onto your "vessel" and keep Him there.  If you are a Seasoned Veteran in the Lord and situations and circumstances are presenting themselves to be overwhelming - I encourage you to heed the words of the Lord when He said, "Take courage!  It is I.  Don't be afraid."  But don't walk in Peter's shoes this time.  Don't go out on the water!  Invite the Holy Spirit that lives within you to manifest Jesus' presence stronger along with the wisdom to tackle the problem at hand.