|(Photograph from bigfoto.com)|
Why didn't Jesus just get into the boat? That would have been easier, safer, quicker, less messy.
When the weary disciples wondered who (or what) this was walking upon the Sea of Galilee, Jesus could have simply hopped into the boat and said, "Ta-da! It's me!" But He didn't.
Instead Jesus announced His presence from the middle of the lake as He stood upon the waves. And to prove Himself as the real deal He called Peter to join Him out there upon the sea.
To show His power, to prove His identity, Jesus calls Peter from the comfort and relative safety of the boat into the chaos and danger of the wind and waves. When they were all back in the boat there was no more debate: "Truly you are the Son of God."
These past two Sundays the Gospel readings have come from Matthew 10 where Jesus sends His disciples out as sheep a midst the wolves. He warns them of the dangers they shall face, the rage of those who will not understand it, the swords of governments who will not allow it. Yet they shall rest secured, because Jesus is with them. They do not go out alone, but in the power of the Spirit of God, Jesus Himself never leaving them.
And maybe this is the way Jesus is with all of us. He calls us from the boat to stand with Him upon the waves. He sends us from the comfort of our church pews or couch cushions into the nitty-gritty world outside.
The Christ beckons us to leave the places where we feel we have power, where we think we have a safe haven, so that He might show us who He is. He is the Son of God. He forgives sins with the very words of His mouth. He keeps the embers of churches burning long after we have given up hope. He creates faith and hope where we can only see reason for despair. He raises the dead.
Jesus is in the dangerous places. He wants to get to work there in the midst of chaos, and He always works through means. He works through the words and actions of ordinary people that He calls to do His extraordinary work.
So we step out of the boat and onto the waves. We venture farther than we have ever gone before. We dare to open our mouths and speak where others shut up and hide. We take a risk for the sake of the Gospel.
But the reason we can walk on the water is that He is there first. The reason we are not consumed by the chaos of the world is that He goes with us. We dare not go alone, for then we will fall. We dare not take our eyes off Jesus, for then we will sink like the rock.
Jesus calls us, He leads, us, He goes with us, He never leaves us. The one who has suffered and died to make us right with God is trustworthy. He will do just as He has promised.