We are studying the gospel of John in Sunday School. This past Sunday we looked at the story of Jesus walking on the water. We compared the passages in John, Mark, and Matthew. John’s narrative was short and sweet, little more than just what happened. Mark’s was nearly twice as long and included a lot more detail. But Matthew was the one who threw in the big story, Peter walking on the water.
…27But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” 28Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.…
Think how many great sermons you would have missed out on if Matthew had left that out. And how could the others have left that out?
So here is where I jumped the fence and started chasing rabbits.
Each gospel writer had a different audience. Mathew’s audience was the Jews. A Jew writing to Jews. Lots of Old Testament references. Jesus as the fulfillment of prophecy. So what would you think of if you were a good Jew and you heard this story? Water? The crossing of the Red Sea, right? The crossing of the Jordan River, right?
Yeah, that’s the ticket. Crossing the Rea Sea, walking on water. The only difference is the children of Israel went through the water where Jesus walked on the water. Simple. Unless you go deeper (or you’re chasing rabbits).
The children of Israel stood between the Red Sea and the armies of Pharaoh, a hopeless situation. But God stepped in and parted the waters. He changed the conditions. He changed their circumstance. They walked across on dry ground.
Now in Jesus’ case (and in Peter’s case) the circumstances did not change. No dry ground to walk on. The wind and the waves and the thunder and lightning and the storm were still there. Yet they walked on the water in the midst of the storm, in the midst of their circumstances.
God can and still does change circumstances. But sometimes He doesn’t (at least in our timing He doesn’t). Sometimes it’s not my circumstance that is changed. Sometimes it’s me that is changed. And it’s far more important that I be changed than my circumstance be changed.
Look at the children of Israel. They walked across on dry ground. But they were not changed.
So what can I learn from this? Two things.
If Jesus calls me to come I can step out on the water even in the midst of the wind and waves and the storm. I don’t have to wait for the conditions to be right. I don’t have to wait for my circumstances to change. Many times I start walking on water when the sea is calm and the conditions are right. But then the storm comes and I draw back. Jesus wants me to walk even in the midst of adverse circumstances.
And the other thing. I forget. No, just kidding. Here’s the other thing. When the storm comes I pray for God to still the storm, to change the circumstances. Of course I do that. But the other thing is a question. How does God want to use this circumstance to change me?
That’s a pretty good question to ask even when there is no storm. A daily question. God, change me. Make me more and more like your Son, Jesus.