Faith and Fear (30-03-22)
Bible Reading: Matthew 14:25-32
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to the disciples, walking on the lake.
When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified.
"It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."
"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." "Come," he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.
"You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.
Some years ago in Sheffield I learnt to climb at an indoor climbing wall. Age meant I was never likely to take it up outside, but the experience indoors was both challenging and exhilarating. Climbing 50 feet off the ground, supported by apparently randomly placed foot holds and hand holds makes you face your fears, even though you know someone on the ground is belaying you on the other end of a rope, ready to support you, albeit in mid-air, should you fall. Fear in any situation, rock climbing or otherwise, can cause you to panic and to fall.
The disciples had no doubt crossed the lake in a boat on numerous occasions, and when the sea was calm they knew they would get safely to the other side. But when the storm blew up and they saw what they thought was a ghost, they became terrified. They had no need to fear; Jesus, like the friend on the end of the belay rope, was there. The disciples may not have been aware of his presence, they may not have recognised him, but he was there.
In the same way, whatever we face, whether we recognise his presence with us or not, Jesus is with us and we need not fear; he will make sure that we neither drown nor fall.
Peter, re-assured of Jesus’ presence, steps out of the boat to walk on the water with him. While he keeps his eyes on Jesus he is fine, but when he looks at the problem he begins to sink.
We face many problems in life, we see many situations at home and abroad that cause us concern. When we look at the problem it is likely that we will be filled with fear and that our faith will fall. When we look to Jesus we will walk on the water through the storms of life.
And then Jesus says to Peter, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ I have often seen this as a mild rebuke, but actually I think it is a word of encouragement. Even with a little faith, Jesus says we can move mountains; we can also walk on water. So, whatever storms we face, let us not fear, but let us put our little faith in Jesus, let us look to him, and let us learn to walk on water.
Lord Jesus, in all the storms of life,
remind me to keep my eyes on you.
My lighthouse: In my wrestling and in my doubts