This Sunday is the Gospel reading about Jesus walking on water and Peter giving it a try, only to realize he isn’t God and starts to sink. I’ve always found the reading a bit odd to be perfectly honest. I never really liked the passage.
I don’t the words from Jesus – “Oh you of little faith.” Often I don’t like it because what I hear in my head when I hear this is a voice that is condescending – As in “Oh Peter, you have got to be kidding me, try harder home boy. That was pathetic.” Heard that way, this passage of Gospel is really disheartening and can just be a really killer for people. That’s the danger of it anyway. It’s a message of “try harder or else you’ll sink.” That’s not gospel – that’s the message of the world.
Yet here we are – a statement by Jesus that sounds just like the world.
But wouldn’t you know it, Jesus doesn’t let Peter drown. He doesn’t give Peter what he deserves. Instead, Jesus reaches out his hand and pulls Peter to safety. Jesus embodies grace and does the exact opposite of this world and its gospel message. How great is that.
But really, what’s the deal with Jesus walking on water? Maybe it’s the message that Jesus can not be controlled by the chaos of the sea.
Imagine if this story were told today. You’d see News Team 21 going to the scene to interview the guys on the ship and report what they experienced. Then there would the viral selfies of James and John showing Jesus in the background, but it wouldn’t be too clear – it was stormy you know. And finally, we can’t for get about the tweets. Thomas: Jesus walks on water. You’d think he was God or something. #doubting, #gottogetmeapairofthoseshoes
Then the 30 seconds of fame would die off because one of the Kardashians would have walked across something and tried to outdo Jesus. And then Jesus walking on water would be so last week.
At any rate, what does this mean for us today? Good question. I don’t think it’s God’s call for us to try crazy things that might get us killed. And I don’t think it’s God’s call to do publicity stunts either. I think it’s about this. We get sent out into a messy world that tosses us and turns us all over the place. And it’s scary and messy and we feel like we’re going to get thrown out of the boat. And just when we think it can’t get any worse, Jesus shows up in unexpected ways – ways we have trouble believing. And bam, grace happens. And boy do we need that. And when grace comes, all the chaos doesn’t matter any more.
Sound like modern life? based on some recent conversations, it sounds exactly like what the passage about walking on water is all about.