Second Thoughts, On the Water

Have you ever walked on water? What happened when Peter did? And what do we learn from his steps?

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God” (Matt. 14:30-33).

I do not believe that I would have behaved, believed, or fumbled about any differently than our apostles presence of Yeshua, face to face. It seems arrogant to believe that if any of us had been alive, and then called by Him, that we would have achieved some measure of understanding missed by the original twelve apostles.

Just prior to Peter walking on water, the apostles witnessed the feeding of the 5,000. Yeshua/Jesus then sent them ahead, to cross the Sea of Galilee as a storm begins to churn the waters. When Yeshua sends them ahead, it’s as if He is saying, “You go ahead, I’ll catch up,” but they were not considering just how He would meet them.

Then, at the 4th watch – 3am to 6am – Yeshua comes walking upon the sea. Hours earlier the disciples took part in distributing food and gathering the leftovers from the masses of people Jesus fed with 5 loaves and 2 fish. Now, seeing Yeshua walking upon the water, they assume it is His ghost, in order words, He is dead.

In Matthew 14:27, Yeshua says, “Take courage, it’s Me. Do not be afraid.” What is He saying? Literally, “Comfort. εἰμί/eimi, I Am. Do not fear.” Yeshua the Comforter of Isaiah 40:1, He is alive, not dead; so what do we have to fear?

Peter brashly tests Yeshua, “If it really is you, command me to come to You on the water.” The Greek in Matthew 14:29 is more picturesque than is depicted in English, at the command of Yeshua he climbed out of the boat, he did not just get out, it took a moment, there was hesitation.

He steps on to the water.

The “I Am” having commanded Peter, did for Peter, just what He had done for the children of Israel at the Red Sea (Ex. 15:8), as the waters congealed and allowed Israel to walk through their midst on dry ground. Now, Peter steps upon waters congealing beneath his feet as he walks to Yeshua.

Peter, stepping out and taking more steps on water than any of us, before or since, sees the circumstance that he has stepped into, no longer in the relative safety of the boat that he knows how to expertly control, he looks away from Yeshua, and His command, and begins to sink. He calls out the shortest and most to the point prayer, “Lord, save me!” Anything more than this, and he would have been gargling.

Yeshua immediately reaches out, pulls him up, rescues him, then corrects, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

“O you of little faith,” ὀλιγόπιστος/oligopistos, “little faith,” meaning “short duration faith.” “Could you only believe for such a short time?”

Yeshua gets to the heart of the matter, “why did you doubt?” Doubt: διστάζω/distazō, doubt, meaning to “duplicate.” Yeshua is asking, “Why did you second guess?” This is the same word in Matthew 28:17, when the disciples saw Yeshua on the mountain in the Galilee, worshipped Him, but second guessed, doubted, the resurrection – “Is He really standing here?”

In this miraculous scene, as Yeshua rescues Peter, there is no fiery chariot of Elijah, or angels swooping in to take them back to the boat: they walked. Getting back into the boat, the winds ceased.

Yeshua, with the storm coming, sent them ahead knowing that once they saw Him, Peter would attempt to rush boldly into the circumstance, only to be frightened by it, and need His rescue. He knows us, as He is the Good Shepherd.

Peter sank because once out in the elements of life, outside of his control, the winds pressed in on him, the waves soaked him, and Yeshua seemed much further away.

The Lord called Peter, and us, to Himself, not the circumstance. Not to the wind and the waves. Not to the choppy waters of life, but to Himself. Yet, we will not overcome this world unless we sink a little, and learn to cry out, “Lord save me!”

Peter had faith to step out of the boat, onto the water, but it was short lived because he second guessed the call and command of Yeshua. He began to rethink the boat, the storm, and the Lord standing upon water. Yeshua never calls us to the storm, or the unknown, but to Himself. At times, we must go through the storm, the wind and the waves, into the unknown in order to reach Him. Nevertheless, He is always the direction and destination.

Do not second guess His call. Do not second guess the call of the I AM. Go to Him in the midst of the storm and the circumstance, seeing that He has done and will continue to do the impossible.

Peter’s faith was short in duration, because he rethought the Word of God. Even then, the Lord rescued him when he cried out, “Lord, save me!” A short, concise, prayer resulting in the nail scarred hand of the Messiah reaching directly to where we are calling to Him.

Be well. Shalom.

Hope Alive

“Moses spoke this way to the children of Israel, but they did not listen to him because of their broken spirit and cruel bondage” (Ex. 6:9).

The children of Israel have endured in slavery for generations since the death of Joseph. The Lord raises up a redeemer, Moses, at the appointed time to fulfill his promise to Abraham, and rather than the redeemer immediately delivering the children of Israel – the darkness of slavery grows even darker.

At the conclusion of Exodus chapter 5 Moses begs the Lord to reveal why he has brought such misery upon the children of Israel when he promises deliverance. The Lord says, “Now see what I do to Pharaoh.”

Still, the children of Israel do not receive the words of encouragement given by Moses in Exodus 6:9, they do not listen because they are “short of spirit,” רוּחַ מִקֹּצֶר, literally, “shortness or anguish of breath.”

It is, at the point of their greatest exhaustion that the Lord begins to move mightily. CS Lewis once wrote, “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”

Just when it seems that the Lord is about to unleash fury on Egypt in order to fulfill his promise to Abraham, and to deliver his people, there is a parenthesis in the narrative, an insertion that does not advance the dialog, it’s just a dry genealogy. Why would the Lord include a genealogy in Exodus 6:14-26? The genealogy is there for a purpose, not only to record family histories, but also to establish a link to an earlier promise.

The Lord recorded for future generations the genealogy of Moses and Aaron, establishing a legal, ancestral link to the promises of spoken of Israel. They will lead a people in the hope of God’s Word.

Matthew opens his gospel account with the genealogy of Messiah Yeshua/Jesus in 1:1-6. Genealogies are often overlooked when it comes to source material for preaching an inspiring sermon. However, this genealogy, and many others, are included for very important reasons concerning inheritance, legitimacy, and covenant connection. The genealogies in Scripture preserved the history and the story of the family line of Messiah; as not only must the Messiah’s lineage be traced to David, it must also lead to Abraham.

However, there are lessons important for us, as His disciples, apart from the historical and covenant meanings of the genealogies. Remember, the genealogies are the record of real people. They had struggles, imperfections, and real sin in their lives that affects how they, and those around them, lived.

In Genesis, we read that Abraham had a child with Sarah’s maidservant Hagar, attempting to help the Lord fulfill His promise.

Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, seemed to be in constant struggle with Esau his brother, swindling him, fleeing from him, but ultimately reconciling with him.

Judah, the son of Jacob, bore twin sons with Tamar, his daughter in law, whom he had mistaken as a prostitute, bringing her into the messianic line.

Rehab, who hid the Israelite spies in Jericho, was a prostitute, but she would ultimately become the great-grandmother of King David.

David, וּנְעִים זְמִרוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵֽל, “the sweet singer of Israel” (II Sam. 23:1), as recorded in the Psalms, had Uriah killed in battle to cover up the adulterous affair, and resulting pregnancy, he had with Uriah’s wife.

Dear reader, these are real accounts of real lives. The Bible did not whitewash them, or make them more socially acceptable. It just recorded who they were, all, incidentally, ancestors of Messiah Yeshua/Jesus. Each one under the law of sin. Some were outside of God’s covenant community: gentiles. Yet, forgiveness and reconciliation took their sin and renewed it for God’s purpose, and His glory.

People often struggle with the idea that they cannot be used by God because of their past. These boring genealogies say otherwise.

Contrary to what we believe, they say the Lord can take a prostitute and make her the grandmother of King David. They say He can take David and make him the grandfather of the Savior.

What we discover as we read through Messiah’s genealogy is the evidence that hope was kept alive for 2,000 years by the Lord, until hope arrived in the flesh.

Friends, you, with your past, your present and your future are helping to keep hope alive until he returns. Tamar had to act the prostitute, Rehab was the prostitute, David was the murdering adulterer, and the list could go on.

Redemptive history is the record of the covenant Lord using imperfect people for his perfect plan until Yeshua returns. You never know how your words of wisdom, reflecting on a renewed past, will be the source of hope for someone who only sees a hopeless end (Ro. 8:28-29).

Give those seeking this hope for tomorrow, to the horizon and again, and let them see the power of redemption in the face of the pharaohs of this world. How will He demonstrate this hope? You. Moses and Aaron led because they were part of the family. In Him, you are part of the family as well, and will help lead others out of their darkness, into His marvelous light.

Be well. Shalom.