Pentecost 10 2020 Proper 14
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
August 9, 2020
Job 38:4-18, Romans 10:5-17, Matt. 14:22-33


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This week’s Gospel lesson picks up right where we left off last week.  To recap a bit, Jesus is rejected at his home town of Nazareth, John the Baptist is beheaded, Jesus and His disciples withdraw by boat to try to grieve in peace, but the crowds follow.  Jesus heals their sick and then He miraculously feeds 5,000 plus people with just five loaves of bread and two fish, afterwards the disciples gather twelve baskets of leftovers.

Now it is time for the disciples to leave.  Matthew 14:22-23 (ESV) 22 Immediately [Jesus] made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.  23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,[1]

The disciples are out in the boat trying to make their way across the Sea of Galilee against the wind; we don’t know if they are tacking with the sail or rowing.  It is hard going into the wind and waves, but they are making progress and have made it a few miles.  Sometime between 3 AM and 6 AM Jesus comes to them in the middle of the Sea of Galilee. It is late at night, it is dark, they are tired, and the disciples see a figure walking on the water miles from shore. They are terrified.  They assume it is a ghost; a phantom, coming to get them. Matthew 14:27 (ESV) 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”[2]

The disciples thought it was a ghost, but now Jesus has identified Himself, “It is I,” (and not a ghost).  Most of the disciples are satisfied, but not Peter.  Oh Peter.  Peter is my most favorite disciple and my least favorite disciple for the same reason. He is too much like me.  Peter is the impulsive disciple who always seems to be the one who has to say something when there is nothing needed to be said. In this instance it is worse. Peter  challenges Jesus.  Peter challenges Jesus’ identity…He challenges Jesus’ authority.  Matthew 14:28 (ESV) 28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”[3]

“If it is you.”  You can hear echoes from the Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness by the devil after His baptism.  Matthew 4:3 (ESV) 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”[4]  If you are who you say you are…

Peter is the most thickheaded of the thickheaded disciples…and He is so much like you and me.  How many times have you questioned Jesus’ identity and Jesus’ authority?  You are a baptized child of God.  God has marked you with water and the Spirit.  What a blessing that we get to witness this happen (tomorrow) today at the 11 AM service with the three Miller children who are students at our school and are joining the congregation with their parents.

You are a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven; you are a part of the Body of Christ on earth.  You are part of the Church.  You should know better, and yet how often do you find yourself being like Peter…questioning Jesus identity…questioning Jesus authority?

Is Jesus really God?  Can He really forgive my sins?  For far too many, the answer to the question, “why are you going to heaven.” is, “Because I am good enough.”  You are tempted to believe this.  You are tempted to think that you do not need Jesus; that salvation is a “do-it-yourself” proposition; that you can be good enough, or at least better than that other guy. You are tempted to question if Jesus really is God and if He really can forgive sins.

You are tempted to question Jesus’ authority to forgive sins, and you are tempted to question God’s authority to give law.  You are tempted to treat the Ten Commandments as if they are given for someone else in another time.  You are tempted to try to explain away your behavior with the “but.”  “I know the Bible says this is wrong, but…I have a good excuse.”  “I know I shouldn’t be looking at this website…but…”  “I know I shouldn’t be getting drunk…but…”  “I know I need to control my anger…but…”  “I know I need to treasure and love and serve my spouse…but…” “I know I should come to church as much as I can…but…”  “I know intimacy belongs only inside the marriage union of a man and a woman…but…” “I know I should forgive those who sin against me…but…”  “I know, (fill in your favorite sin) is wrong…but…I know better.  I know better than God.”

Peter should know better than to question Jesus’ identity or authority.  He has seen Jesus in action.  He was just with Jesus miraculously feeding the five thousand plus people.  Even Peter questions Jesus?  “If it is you.”  Jesus calls Peter out to walk on the water, but then Peter doubts Jesus’ authority and he begins to sink.  This is where Jesus wants Peter.  Peter realizes he is helpless and cries out, “Lord, save me.”

This is where you find yourself.  You dabble with evil thoughts, evil words, evil deeds.  You think you can control it, but then you find yourself sinking into the murky depths of rebellion and sin and there is only one thing to do.  Cry out, “Lord, save me.”  When you are caught up in sin, know that you cannot do it yourself.  You cannot fix it.  Ask for help, because you need help.  You need Jesus.  Cry out, “Lord, save me,” and Jesus reaches out His nail-scarred hand and takes hold of you and bring you back into the boat.  Jesus gives you the gift of salvation that He earned on the cross at Calvary.  Jesus restores you to purity and holiness that comes, not from you, but from Him alone.

This area of the church is called the Nave and, architecturally it looks like an upside down boat.  The word Nave comes from the Latin word Navis which means ship.  Stay in the boat.  Stay in the ship of faith.  Trust in the Lord Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins.  Repent of the times you have questioned Jesus’ identity or challenged His authority.  Repent of trying to run your own life, and submit to Jesus’ will for your life.

Life in the ship of faith is not a luxury cruise to exciting ports.  Life in the ship of faith is living daily life doing what you are supposed to be doing.  Love God and love your neighbor.  It is a life of doing what has been given you to do.  The young mother caring for her child is doing the Lord’s work.  The engineer working to provide safe air travel is doing the Lord’s work.  The teacher preparing to teach students in this crazy new school year is doing the Lord’s work.

Fight the temptation to get out of the boat.  But if you stray, know where your help comes from.  Cry out as you do in the confession of sins, “Lord, save me.”  Because He will.  Because He already has.  Trust in the Lord always.  Stay in the boat.  Amen.


[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001


[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001


[3]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001


[4]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001


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