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Jesus Walking on Water Sermon in Immanuel Lutheran in Alameda 8/10/08

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Pentecost XIII 10th August, 2008

I Kings 19:9-18 Psalm 85:8-13 Romans 10: 5-15 Mat 14:22-33

Jesus Walking on Water

The story about Jesus walking on water took place between three o’clock and six in the morning. At that time in the morning, I think the story has to be interpreted somewhat like a dream-state. Jesus had dismissed the crowds and sent the disciples on ahead of him to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. He went up to a mountain to pray by himself. When evening came, Jesus was all alone and the boat with the disciples was far out to sea, battered by waves, and the wind was against them, driving them even farther away.

I guess you have to have seen “The Deadliest Catch” on TV and see in your mind’s eye, the way the crab fishers have to fight the gigantic waves washing overboard, the rushing wind, and the incredible kind of weather you see them working in.

When the waves are huge, you don’t see very far, just the mountain of water and then the boat sinking into the valley left by the wave after the water has crashed over the boat. Right there the disciples see Jesus walking on the sea and they are frightened out of their wits. They think they are seeing a ghost. The Greek word is a “phantasm.” They cry out in fear. Jesus speaks to them to assure them and calm them: “Take heart; it is I.” In the Greek, it says something that means more than that, however. He says, “It is I am.” And everyone knew that only God could walk on water.

Now there they are, seeing the almighty love of God walking out to them on the water. Peter shouts to Jesus, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come out to you on the water.”

Jesus says, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, he had nothing, if he didn’t have courage, started walking on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw a strong wind, he became frightened and began to sink and cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him saying, “You of little faith! Why did you doubt?” When Jesus got into the boat, the wind ceased, and those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God!”

I called Jesus the almighty Love of God, because he was going to the small wave-battered boat filled with his disciples and helped them because the wind was against them, driving them ever further into danger and away from their destination.

Of course, as in a dream, this message also comes to us and includes us. The little embattled and wave-battered boat is also Immanuel Lutheran Church of Alameda, which also has the wind against it and Jesus, the almighty Love of God in his almighty Word, is approaching this little church in order to save it. How does Jesus walk on water today to rescue us in this congregation? It is through the preaching of God’s almighty Word. How beautiful are the feet of the one walking on water to save us!

Now when you hear the preaching of the one, sent to you by God, to call upon you to believe, and not sink in the waves of doubt and fear, then take heart and have faith, because you and I are saved by faith, because faith is the power of God in us. Faith is Jesus walking on water and coming to save us.

Do you think the wind against this congregation is strong against us? Do you fear the mountains of water crashing over us? Then just keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Cling to him with all your heart. Keep your mind stayed on Jesus. Then like Peter we too need to answer the great “I am.” Like Peter we too receive God’s almighty love stirring in us. We can then do what is impossible to do, embark on something that has never been done, and have God accomplish it through us.

Did you see the last fellow lighting the Olympic torch and how he ran through the air around the whole Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing? Well of course, when you looked closely, then you saw the wires which were holding him.

When we set out in faith, when we follow the command of Jesus to come to him, then we start walking on water. Faith means there are no wires holding us. It is pure faith that holds us. We walk on water to start the reconciliation and forgiveness of Christ, who steps into the congregation, is really present, and calms the waves and makes the wind to cease.

Now the proclamation of God’s almighty Word entails that our whole self to be in it. Thus like Peter, we get out of the boat and start walking to Jesus. Blessed are the feet of those who step out to proclaim the Good News, who help the congregation learn to walk to Jesus.

Sometimes we can step out and take a stand and others were all around us. But taking such a stand can be costly. It sometimes requires placing our bodies on the line. When Martin Luther of old got out of the boat in faith and made his stand, he was placed into the imperial ban by Charles V, excommunicated by the pope, and declared as free as a bird for anyone to kill, people of that time suddenly all stopped calling themselves Martinists and Lutherans. (I believe they started referring to themselves as New Believers versus Old Believers.) Ah, it is going to cost us, maybe even more than money, maybe our job, or maybe even our life. As Luther said, “Were they to take our house, goods, honor, child or spouse. Though life be wrenched away.” Talking the talk, while walking the walk, puts us way out on the edge of where people are willing to go.

Thus when you stand out like Peter, or Luther, or Elijah of old, you look around and you’re suddenly all alone. But Jesus, the I am, is suddenly there reaching you a hand, helping you and saving you, out there where no one else dares to be.

And we can start a venture of faith like that because we know what kind of a Lord we have. Jesus, we begin to realize, is the almighty Love of God incarnate.

He went up to the mountain alone to pray, but that sent him out to save the little tossing boat filled with his disciples and nothing could stop him. He even walked on water to save them and rescue them from the adverse wind.

That is the Good News. That is the proclamation for today. Nothing will stop Jesus from coming to this little boat called Immanuel Lutheran Church in Alameda in order to rescue and save his disciples, who fill the nave, that is, the ship, of this church.

Now you need to respond to the call of the almighty Love of I am. Moses asked for his name. God said, “I am has sent you!” He said it out of the burning thorn bush.

“What is your name?” Moses insisted.

God said, “I am who I am.” And Jesus is the sevenfold I am: he said, I am the way, the truth, and the life. I am the bread, the vine, the door, and the water of life. God came to be with us in Christ and “God with us” is our name, Immanuel! So you and I need to step out of the boat and walk on some water by faith. Step out and walk to the edge of human forgiveness, till you can’t go any further, when misgivings flood you and you begin to sink, then cry out to Jesus, and he’ll reach you a hand. His hand full of faith will rescue you out of your little faith, that is so prone to doubt, so clammed up with fear.

You need to step out of your boat, walk out on the water of your faith to the edge of our needed reconciliation. And when you see the strong wind and giant waves of anger and bitterness and hostility like walls of water coming at you, and you begin to doubt the possibility of any reconciliation, then cry out to Jesus, and he’ll reach you a hand, because his hand full of faith will rescue you out of your little faith, so prone to doubt and so paralyzed by fear.

It takes stepping out in faith like that. Peter represents you and me. Peter had the courage to lead, talking the talk and walking the walk. And Jesus will reach you that strong hand of faith, just like he did to Peter.

Of course, everyone deserted Jesus at the end. He even cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” the words of the Psalm on his lips. But God reached over and raised him up from the dead, to rule at the right hand of God the Father as the almighty Love of God.

So often you and I might feel like those fishers that fish for crab up in the seas of Alaska. Have you watched the TV show called the “Deadliest Catch?” Mountainous waves also batter this little church as we fish the waters for more children of God. Like sometimes you are afraid our little church will go under. But blessed are the beautiful feet of Jesus, walking on water, coming to save us. Amen.


Written by peterkrey

August 11, 2008 at 12:49 am

Posted in Selected Sermons

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