Category Archives: Jesus

Impetuous Peter Walks On Water

peter walks on water.jpg

Today’s post is about the impetuous Peter.  The disciple who refused to allow Jesus to wash his feet, then wanted Jesus to wash his whole body which garnered a double-redirection from Jesus (John 13:6-10).  The disciple who rebuffed Jesus when he spoke of his death, earning him a stiff reprimand from Jesus (Matthew 16:22-23).  The disciple who cut off the ear of a servant of the high priest, which Jesus rebuked firmly (Luke 22:49-50).  The disciple who returned to his profession of fishing when he had been called to be a fisher of men (John 21:3).

The same disciple who professed that Jesus is the Messiah, God the Son (Matthew 16:16).  The same disciple who continued to follow Jesus, if only from afar, after Jesus’ arrest (Luke 22:54-62).  The same disciple who immediately ran to the tomb after the women told him it was empty (Luke 24:12).  The same disciple who jumped into the water to get to shore faster in order to see Jesus sooner (John 21:6).

Peter was impetuous, often doing things immediately without thinking things through.  After the miracle of feeding 5,000 men plus women and children (Matthew 14:13-21), Jesus sent his disciples on a boat to Bethsaida.  Jesus went to pray alone.  In the early sea-of-Galileemorning hours (between 3 A.M. and 6 A.M.), the wind had prevented the disciples from making much headway on the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus began walking on the water, intending to pass by them in order to make a demonstration of his deity.  Instead of being impressed by the power of Jesus over the fluidity and instability of water, they imagined him to be a ghost and became afraid.  You cannot really blame the disciples, though.  They had been in a boat all night on a lake that is only 64 square miles large, roughly the size of Liechtenstein.  There was a tremendous headwind preventing the sea-of-Galilee-2000px.jpgboat from making much progress.  Waves were buffeting the boat.  It is quite possible the disciples saw some supernatural force at work in the wind, preventing them from getting to where Jesus had sent them.  A mysterious image walking on the water must have confirmed their fears.

“But when tjesus_walking_on_waterhe disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, ‘It is a ghost!’ and they cried out in fear” (Matthew 14:26).  How soon the disciples forgot that Jesus had calmed the wind and the waves before.  “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:41).  They had just seen Jesus demonstrate his power by feeding 5,000 men with just five loaves and two fish, yet now were trembling in fear at the sight of a ghost.

Jesus immediately calmed their fears by identifying himself “Take heart; It is I.  Do not be afraid” (Matthew 14:27).  Here is where Peter does something impetuous.  He insisted that he walk on the water with Jesus.  “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you onpeter-jumps-john-21 the water” (Matthew 14:28).  Now, I wonder what was going through Peter’s mind at that moment.  Wasn’t he afraid that some ghost imitating Jesus could have bid him to get out of the boat to his death?  Even though his eyes saw a ghost, his ears heard the voice of his Master.  His Master bade him “Come.”  So Peter got out of his comfort zone and walked on the water.  No other man on earth (who was not also God) can make that claim.  Peter was walking on water.

Then Peter took his eyes off of Jesus. “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out ‘Lord, save me!'” (Matthew 14:30).  “When he saw….”  To see.  The Greek word for saw is βλέπω (blep’-o) which means to look at, behold, beware, peter waterlie, look (on), perceive, regard, see, sight, take heed.  As impetuously as he was in leaping out of the boat at the voice of Jesus, Peter now was just as impetuous to regard the wind, and the way it made him feel emotionally.  Instead of regarding the one who commands the wind and the waves, his eyes told him “Beware of the wind and waves.”  He began to walk by sight and not by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7).  He trusted what his eyes were telling him and not in who Jesus is.  Jesus reached for Peter, lifted him up.  Jesus labeled Peter one of little faith.  “Little faith” is translated from one Greek word, όλιγόπιστος (ol-ig-op’-is-tos), meaning incredulous, lacking confidence.  Taken from two Greek words, όλιγόπιστος implies “puny conviction.”

“Why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31).  “Doubt,” διστάζω (dis-tad’-zo) meaning to duplicate, to waver (in opinion), to doubt.  Peter doubted the power of Jesus.  Instead he believed the lie of the wind and waves.  Peter’s little faith was not that he required evidence in order to believe.  Jesus did not demand blind faith.  Faith is not believing in something without evidence.  Faith is putting trust in someone who is trustworthy.  Jesus, in fact, gave the disciples (and us) evidence of his power by calming the storm, feeding the 5,000, walking on water, resurrecting from the dead. 

Trust.  That is what faith is about.  Is Jesus able to make me walk on water?  Has he bid me “Come?”[1]  Then what am I waiting for?  Do I trust him?  Imagine if Peter had not lost confidence in Jesus and kept walking by faith instead of by what his eyes saw.  Which disciple would have been next to step out of the boat?  Andrew?  John?  Philip?  Could Peter’s demonstration of faith have inspired the rest to step out in faith?  They weren’t getting anywhere fast inside the boat.  Jesus seemed to be getting along just fine walking on the water.

Peter missed the opportunity to inspire his fellow disciples because he regarded what his eyes saw, instead of the one who bade him “Come.”  His impetuous nature led him to a place where he could have demonstrated great faith.  Instead, he exhibited little faith.  Thankfully, Peter’s story of faith did not end here.  The power of the Gospel transformed him.  He became a man of great faith, even to the point of preaching the resurrection of Jesus though he knew it would lead to his death.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

[1] Although I am not one who believes that miracles ended with the Apostolic age, I do believe that they are less frequent.  God used miracles as evidence for his authority and power. Now that his Word is complete, there is no need for miracles to demonstrate his authority and power.  Do we really trust God who has already spoken, or are we like the Pharisees who constantly sought signs, doubting, wavering?  Though Jesus has the power to make us literally walk on water, he has not bid us “Come.”  My point above about us walking on water is metaphorical, not literal.  Let us be careful not to turn Jesus into a glorified magician, who can wow people with parlor tricks.

Is the World Going Insane, or Am I?

insane_world1

I came to a realization last night after the Republican Party booed conscience, and cheered “I’m proud to be gay.”  Either the world is going insane, or I am.  That question is what I’m going to ponder over the next month while I avoid social media.

mad-worldI know that the Scripture says not to announce your fast to avoid self-righteousness.  My announcement of my fast of social media, however, is not to promote myself as a “holier-than-thou” person.  For those of you who still read my writing (and by the look of my blog traffic, few of you still do) I want to explain my absence.  I’ve been accused of dropping judgmental bombs and then flying under the radar for a time in order to let the uproar die down only to swoop in and drop more.

Before I go any further, I want to say how much I love and appreciate my wife, Dawn.   God has used her to help center me and keep me disciplined.

Dawn, I used to think that God doesn’t have just one person for someone to marry, but that the person you marry becomes that one person.  Now, I see God’s orchestration in brining us together to be the perfect spouse for my perfection and sanctification.

I came to this crossroads last night.  The world seems to be falling apart.  Even the Republican Party is celebrating the sin of homosexuality.  The party that used to be dominated by conservative Christians is now dominated by godless conservatives.  The opposing political party, the party that booed God at their national convention in 2012, enthusiastically cheers on and supports a hypocritical, godless criminal as their pick for president.

My life’s goal has been to speak the truth in a world that loves lies.  Lately, even those of my spiritual family, however, seem to be tone deaf to the message I bring.  Whether it be the Church’s idolatry (of sports, coffee, entertainment, family, tolerance, self-esteem, etc.) or on what truth is to be spoken and how it’s to be spoken.  I’ve been harping on a Church filled with people who appear to me to worship college football, the NFL, the NBA alongside of their worship for God.  I see more enthusiasm for things of sports than things of God, nobody seems to think that this observation applies to them.  The usual retort is to say that sports is not inherently evil, and so the idolatry goes on.

I still have a sports idolatry.  Not when I play them as recreation, but when I root for my teams.  I have decided to completely tear down this idol.  It’s an idol that is working against God anyway.  Besides taking my heart away from worshiping God exclusively, it is trannyworking against God in our society by taking stands for unrighteousness.  The NBA just announced that it is moving the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, NC because of the law that protects young girls from being forced to shower with grown men.  The NFL threatened to move the Superbowl.  Disney, the rock band Boston, and other entertainment companies have vowed to boycott places that protect religious liberty.

Even after Christians are made aware of this, they continue to vociferously consume this entertainment as if nothing is wrong.

I’ve been trying to get to know who God is and how I am to worship him.  I see silly “worship” songs that seem to get Christians motivated emotionally but are devoid of anything theological.  I think I am speaking the truth, but I keep getting push back from people, or worse, they completely ignore me.  It seems people are afraid to have a discussion because it might get unpleasant.  So, they avoid the exchange of ideas and are never exposed to a true idea that might steer them to the truth.

I am not saying I always have the truth.  Being confident in your opinion and insisting on it being the truth is not self-righteousness nor is it arrogant. Of course I think I’m right, otherwise I would not have voiced or advocated a position. Others think they are right, otherwise they wouldn’t challenge my position. But the debate needs to happen because it is in that discussion that we work toward what is true.

The truth is sometimes presented in an arrogant way (of which I know I am sometimes guilty).

“…’Sometimes’ you say?”

OK, enough from the peanut gallery. I try not to be arrogant.

“Maybe you need to try harder.”

Are you done? I have a serious point here.

People tend to read emotions into social media posts that simply aren’t in the minds of the authors. Then the authors get accused for the way they made the readers feel.

Boys and girls, it’s time to put down those participation trophies, leave your safe spaces, and grow into fully functioning adults.

First of all, don’t assume offense was intended. We probably are not as clairvoyant as we think. Secondly, we are not required to carry offense, real or imagined. This situation is the kind for which Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek.

Social media is a place of human communication. Wherever humans interact there are bound to be miscommunications, misunderstandings, and mistakes. There will also be malevolence. The solution is not to shut down the forum or to limit it to light-hearted, soft-headed discussions. To do so would simply yield the forum to banality and lies.

Social media is full of truth claims that compete and clash. Sometimes this conflict produces more heat than light. For Christians to avoid the conflict altogether is not what God has called us to do. The Church has largely avoided conflict with the secular humanists in our culture and now all of our institutions are run by secular humanists.

We must be willing to cross swords with wicked and vain philosophies without cowering because someone might be offended, even on social media. We must speak the truth in love. But speaking the truth in love still requires speaking the truth.

Because I want to be on the side of truth and not promoting lies, I am open to having my mind changed.

hqdefaultThere is something wrong.  It is either me, or the world.  I know my fellow believers do not want to be on the side of lies, but I’m not convinced they are courageous enough to seek the entire truth.  Then again, am I deluded in thinking that I have the truth that no one else has?  Am I pompous, condescending, arrogant?  Am I speaking the truth, but people are turned off by my personality, or the manner in which I present the truth?  Are people so engrossed in postmodernism that any presentation of the truth is offensive to them?  I want to find out the answers.

I intend to avoid social media to free up more time to seek God, and pursue the truth.  I hope to offer to you what I have found.  I am jealous for the glory of God, and ardent in my defense of the truth.  I just don’t want to make my ministry an idol.

See you in a month.

Chris