There is probably no miracle in the Bible that has been more doubted than the story of Jesus walking on the water, as happened in today’s Gospel (Matt 14:22-33).
The story of Jesus walking on the water has led to a number of jokes. One of my favorites is about the parish that had a lot of bitter factions. Many people were constantly complaining about something.
Finally a new pastor was appointed. The new pastor had a dynamic personality and a wonderful ability to bring people together. After he arrived, he invited everyone to a parish picnic. At the picnic he announced: “See that lake over there….watch this. I’m going to walk on the water.”
To the parish’s amazement, he did it! He walked on the water!! But there was still one suspicious parishioner who shook his head and grumbled: “I bet he couldn’t do it again.”
Many people today are equally suspicious of miracles – suspicious of TV evangelists who guarantee miracles, as long as you provide your Visa card number.
Many people are suspicious of politicians who in this political season, promise miracles more powerful than walking on water, as long as you vote for them.
Many people are suspicious even of God when we pray for a miracle for a cure for cancer and we don’t hear even a tiny whispering sound from God.
So when we hear proclaimed the story of Jesus walking on the water, we are tempted to write it off. It doesn’t speak to our own experience of life. It is very contrary to what we know is the law of nature.
But the Bible has a different notion of what a miracle is. Miracles do not necessarily go against the laws of nature. Miracles are events that God uses to break through into our lives where God asks us to believe. A person who is a believer is able to see God at work in their lives.
When Peter left the boat, he made a leap of faith, and in that leap of faith, the disciples saw that God was at work.
The real miracle that happened on the Sea of Galilee is that Peter and his disciples recognized Jesus as the Son of God. Peter, a great fisherman, had always known to never leave the boat, no matter what. But Peter abandons all worldly knowledge and jumps into the water because Jesus asked him to come.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the great German theologian who criticized the Nazi’s and was hung by the Nazi’s in 1945, talked about Peter walking on the water. Bonhoeffer said that Peter had to leave the boat and risk his life on the sea in order to learn his own weakness and the almighty power of God. Bonhoeffer wound up doing the same and losing his life.
If Peter had never taken the risk, he would never have learned the meaning of faith. In a very real way today, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are all being tossed around by the storms of isolation, lockdown and quarantine. We are holding on desperately to the security of our boats and the faith that we have nurtured for a lifetime.
How has YOUR FAITH been tested the past 6 months during the Covid-19 pandemic?
How has YOUR FAITH been strengthened the past 6 months during the Covid-19 pandemic?
The beginning of my new novel, THE GATHERING, can be found below at Amazon Books. Do read the beginning of my book, FOR FREE. I think you will enjoy reading the entire book. I certainly enjoyed writing down my thoughts about what Jesus would say and do in our world today!