Walk on Water – July 1, 2018

Frank Lloyd Wright was an american architect, who believed in designing structures which were in harmony with humanity and its environment, a philosophy he called ‘organic architecture’.

During the early 1900’s, Japan approached several famous architects and asked them to design an earthquake proof building in Tokyo called “The Imperial Hotel”. Most believed that it could not be done. But Wright decided to take on the project.

On September 1, 1923, Tokyo had the greatest earthquake in its history. There were fires all over the city, and 140,000 people died. Shortly afterward, Wright got a telegram from Japan. The Imperial Hotel was completely undamaged. Frank Lloyd Wright had done what many thought was impossible; he designed an earthquake proof building!

Most of us, from an early age dream of doing something ‘bigger than life’, especially children. We want to leave a legacy.

In the movie “Big Fish”, Ewan McGregor stars as Ed Bloom. He is a boy on the verge of growing into manhood. He was always small and considered himself insignificant but as he studies, his mind and his imagination begin to grow.

He reads that the common goldfish, if kept in a small bowl will not get any bigger. But if allowed more room, it can double, triple or quadruple in size. That is when Ed realizes that maybe he was made for bigger and greater things. He contemplated; a giant man can’t have an ordinary-sized life. And at that point he decided not to settle for less but to live to his full potential.

Simon/Peter hadsimilar dreams and desires. We know that he was a man of great faith. Our Bible tells us that he was one of the first disciples called by Jesus. When Jesus saw Peter and his brother Andrew, he called out, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Without a twinge of doubt, Peter followed. (Matthew 4:19-20)

Peter witnessed Jesus perform miracles, healings, calm a storm, raise a sick girl from the dead, and listened to his teachings and parables. During all of this, his faith blossomed and grew. In Matthew chapter 14, Peter and the disciples witness how Jesus feeds more than 5000 people.

Then Jesus sent his disciples out ahead of him to cross the Sea of Galilee on a boat – while he went to a mountain to rest and pray.

When the disciples get about half-way across, (about 3 and a half miles – it tells us in the gospel of John) the winds pick up and a storm began thrashing the boat. So they started rowing faster and harder but they cannot seem to get ahead.

During the 4th watch, which is around 4 or 5 am, Jesus came walking out to them on the water. We are not sure who sees him first but I can imagine the reaction. Shock! Is that a ghost? Fisherman, we know, were prone to believe in myths and legends.

Jesus called out, “Take courage, It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Immediately, they recognized his voice. But what comes next is what puzzles me. Knowing that Jesus can calm storms, I would be most likely to call out, “Jesus, rebuke the wind and ease the storm, please!” But not good old Peter. Instead he says, “Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water.

WHAT WAS HE THINKING??

I don’t know about you – but I’ve tested this theory many times and I have never been able to stand or walk on water.. Where did this crazy idea come from? What was Peter thinking? That question ‘wouldn’t have even crossed my mind’. Honestly, would you have asked it?

But Peter had such great faith, he was confident that Jesus was the Messiah. In Matthew Chapter 16:13-19, Jesus aksed Peter, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Christ (the Messiah), the son of the living God.”

Peter trusts in him so much, that he asks Jesus for permission to go to him on the water. “Come,” Jesus says. And just like the first time Jesus calls to him, Peter goes. He gets out of the boat and begins walking to his master. It is just as if he is walking on dry land!

How many steps did he take? We will never know. But don’t miss this…he walked on water…at least for a few moments.

But the wind and the noise from the storm get his attention and he looked away. It is then, that he starts to sink. His first words here are important. He could have cried, “Help!” but he didn’t. Instead he calls out, “Lord, save me!” Even in his moment of weakness, he knew that Jesus could save him. Scripture says, immediately Jesus reached out and caught him.

Then Jesus said to him, as he is pulling Peter up, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Then , get this, they walked back on the water and got into the boat. You see, Peter was never af4raid to take action – but he was afraid that he couldn’t finish the task. This made a permanent impression on Peter.

For the rest of his life he would say, “all you need is faith alone”. Because he believed works just come naturally to us – but they do not. What came naturally to Peter – can be quite foreign to the rest of us.

What we learn is that Peter had great confidence in Jesus – but very little in himself. Jesus never rebuked him for getting out of the boat, he simply asked him – why did he look away. Why did he let the world take his eyes from what Jesus had planned?

‘What is it that you desire or let distract you from the will of God?’ We all have something that tempts us and distracts us – it makes us want to look away. In all of us, there are seeds of doublt just waiting to grow.

Scripture is careful to remind us in Jude 1:22, “Be merciful to those who doubt.” Because no matter how much faith you have, you will always have some doubts. it is part of the human experience.

The more focused we are on Jesus, the less we will have long periods of doubt or sin. Our confidence is not in flesh and blood – but in the power of Christ to overcome evil and death.

A child of God – is one who trusts in God’s Word. We have faith beyond what we can see or know. (2 Corinthians 5:7) So that when we doubt – or when we sin, we will not remain in that state.

We must become re-focused on Jesus and become confident in him alone. He is the God of second chances. But we must recognize out short-comings and repent. We must always turn back to Jesus.

Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes by hearing, believing and living the words of Christ. But it is not faith and confidence in – our ability – but in God’s.

Several years after the terrible earthquake in China, a reporter interviewed Frank Lloyd Wright. One of the questions he was asked by the reporter was, “What made you so confident that you believed you could build an earthquake proof building when others believed it couldn’t be done?”

“God is the great mysterious motivator of what we call nature,” he said, “and it has often been said by philosophers, that nature is the will of God. And I prefer to say that nature is the only body of God that we shall ever see.”

In other words, God’s answers are all around – if we just open our eyes. God can be seen ‘in all that he has created’. Those who trust in God, who turn back to Him when they are far away, and who put their confidence in him alone — they are the most likely to do the impossible – like walking on water.

Your assignment is…make a list of your worries, hurts and doubts and then give them to Jesus. Then take courage and walk on!

Amen.