Scripture: Matthew 14:22-33 CEB
In the passage you have just heard, Peter kept his eyes on Jesus and walked on water! But, when he took his eyes off of Christ, he became frightened and began to sink. This is a strong lesson for us today as we face the storms in our lives. We must have faith and keep our eyes on Jesus. This is easy to say and yet hard to do, right? We find it hard to keep our focus on what is right in front of us. I’ll give you a practical example.
About six years ago, I went on a Walk to Emmaus retreat. Afterward, I was pretty tired, but I offered to take my son to college. On my way back home, I got caught in a big traffic jam where the cars were creeping along very slowly. When we began to go down a bridge, I looked over and saw a man hanging half-way out the window of his semi-truck, yelling at the other drivers. I got so distracted staring at this man that I didn’t notice the car in front of me making a quick stop. You can guess what happened. I hit the car in front of me. Thank God no one was hurt, but I can tell you that my bank account truly suffered!
Distractions can be dangerous, especially when we are doing something that should have our full attention. In our passage today, we learn how crucial it is to focus on Jesus, especially during tough times. We also see that there are consequences if we take our eyes off of Him.
Today’s scripture follows on from last week where Jesus fed more than 5000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish. It had been a long day.
As the crowds were leaving, Jesus told his disciples to get into a boat and cross to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. He said He would join them later. Jesus then went up into the hills alone to pray.
The disciples then began their trip. When they were already far away from land, a strong headwind arose, and waves began to batter the boat. They fought the weather conditions all night. But, as morning came, Jesus appeared to His disciples walking on the water!
His disciples saw Him and they cried out in fear! To put them at ease, Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be encouraged, It’s me, don’t be afraid.” It was Peter who overcame his fear and called out to Jesus, “Lord, if it’s you, order me to come to you on the water” (v.28).
Jesus simply replied, “Come.” Peter obeyed, but as he went along, he became distracted by the winds and the raging waters. He took his eyes off of Jesus and began to sink. He called out to Jesus to save him, and Jesus did.
We are not so different from Peter. We also let distractions take our eyes away from Jesus, especially during the storms in our lives. There are physical storms with rain and wind, but also storms and turmoil that happen in our daily struggles. Both kinds of storms can draw our attention away from Jesus.
Last week, we almost had the visit of Tropical Storm Isaias. In addition to the stress we were already experiencing, there was anxiety, a lack of patience, and the inconveniences that come with the isolation and lack of control we face due to the restrictions of COVID-19.
But the good news is that in all of these moments we are never alone. Jesus comes to us in the middle of our storms. We may experience significant storms when things are suddenly turned upside down, but we have this promise. As Jesus did with Peter, our Savior comes to us during our storms whenever we call Him to rescue us.
We know that there is no rational explanation for the suffering that is in the world, but there are three important lessons I want you to remember from our passage today, three lessons that will carry us through our storms:
- The same Jesus who was present and drew near to his disciples in that tiny fishing boat also draws near to us when the storms come.
- Jesus calls out to each of us to step out in faith, and to face all our problems with our eyes on Him.
- Jesus invites us not to be afraid but to trust in Him. Sooner or later, every storm will end.
For example, this COVID-19 storm will not last forever. Like it happened with Hurricane Isaias, it will pass, and the sun will shine again. As for the storms that you personally face, they will not last forever and the sun will shine upon you once again.
So, let’s keep looking at Jesus no matter what storm we face.