Learning from the Children

וְהָיָה, כִּי-יֹאמְרוּ אֲלֵיכֶם בְּנֵיכֶם: מָה הָעֲבֹדָה הַזֹּאת, לָכֶם

“And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?” (Ex. 12:26).

As the time of the exodus from Egypt drew near, Moses tells Israel that their children will ask on the night of Passover: “What does this mean?” What is he saying? Be ready to answer them.

If you know me as a minister, I love having children around, especially with the adults in worship: “the service.” Children bring an honesty we should all learn from: with their laughter, tears, energy or just napping on the chairs, include them. Let them be part of the service.

How can they ask unless they observe us? And how can we answer without a question? The Lord is creating a generational connection, a contact point to learn and remember. So often the formality or sanctity of an observance closes the doors of inquiry, yet this simple statement of Moses puts a stopper in the door that keeps it from closing. The opening welcomes in those who do not know, but would like to ask.

I’ve heard much too often that questions regarding faith have been discouraged by those in a position to answer. We learn when we ask, and when we are asked. Moses is telling us, as parents, friends, or leaders to be ready. Think, reflect, consider closely. As the apostle Peter wrote:

“but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (I Pet. 3:15).

The word ἀπολογία/apologia, “defense”, used by Peter also means answer. Be prepared, as Moses and Peter tell us, to provide an answer when someone asks a question regarding the hope we have: at the Passover, “What’s this business with the lamb?” Now, “Who is Messiah as the Lamb of God, the source of your hope?”

We learn from Him, and we are able to answer those drawing near to ask. We ask our own questions, and learn in order to share. We learn so we will know, and in knowing we can can answer.

The heart of this knowing is your testimony, your story in relation to the Lamb, and what His service has done for you. Children can inspire us in faith if we open our hearts, our minds, our very souls to their question: What does this service mean to you? Faith then becomes a living experience of relationship, not just an intellectual pursuit.

What does הָעֲבֹדָה, “the service, the worship, the work” mean to us? It means we believe the One the Father sent (Jn. 6:29), and we have given our lives completely into His hands: our worship, our service, our work, the life He rescued and renewed.

Do not close the door to the question, welcome in those who do not know, but would like to ask, even when they do not know how. He has given you the answer, now share it.

Be well. Shalom.

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.