READ: Matthew 14
BACKGROUND: By Verse:
1 – Herod the tetrarch = Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, who ruled from 4 B.C. to 39 A.D.
3 – Here’s why Herodias had a problem with John the Baptist. She was married to Herod’s half-brother Philip. She then decided to leave him for his brother. John condemned this as immoral. She hated him for that. Herod, though, knew that John was speaking truth (see Mark 6:20).
16 – The crazy thing about this story (beyond the totally crazy part where Jesus does an amazing miracle) is that right after witnessing him do this, the disciples are shocked that he can walk on water. I mean, they just saw him feed thousands of people with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, but they turn right around and don’t believe it’s possible to walk on water. It makes me laugh (especially because I know I’m just as stupid sometimes…okay…a lot of the time.)
25 – 4th watch = 3-6 AM
31.5 – Matthew 14:31.5 is a missing verse. It’s not included in our English Bibles. It’s also not included in any of the original Greek manuscripts. Matthew 14:31.5 is Peter’s response to Jesus’ question. Peter, the guy who always has something to say, says nothing. Not a word. This is probably the best and smartest answer he gives in his entire life. 🙂
THINK: We live in an image conscious culture that constantly renders us afraid of being seen as different because we worry we’ll be ostracized by our community or society at large. We are terrified that if we stand up and publicly acknowledge that which privately claim to believe we will offend people, we will lose friends, we won’t be invited to social gatherings, or, heaven forbid, we won’t be cool. The level of self-centeredness and self-absorption that surrounds us makes things difficult as well. We are dreadfully afraid that time and/or resources spent on God will interfere with our precious personal time for work or, even more important, for leisure. We are afraid that if we follow God’s call to live radical lives of faith rather than following society’s call to live lives of radical self-indulgence we will miss out on something great, when, in reality, it is precisely the opposite. Too often our lives don’t look noticeably different from the lives of the unbelievers around us. And why? Because we are dreadfully afraid of letting God work in and through us since this might disrupt our comfortable lives.
There’s a story about a man who took his grandchildren to the zoo. They looked at all kinds of animals, and eventually they arrived at the Impala cage. He read the sign and it said, “Behold the Impala! This animal is capable of leaping to heights of 10 feet and distances of 30 feet. This 3 foot wall contains the magnificent creatures.” This man was no math genius but he could tell there was a problem here, but, at the bottom of the sign was a little known fact: The impala will not jump if it cannot see where its feet will fall. So, a three foot wall is all it takes to contain this amazing powerful animal. I wonder, if different churches and Christians were exhibits at a zoo, what might the sign read? “Behold the Christian! It is a creature capable of doing amazing things, of transforming the world and changing lives. This tiny wall of fear that keeps it contained because it lacks the faith to jump if it is uncertain where it will land.”
I feel like so many Christians just sit in the boat (and we have good company because 92% of the disciples did too) when God is calling and equipping us to walk on water. He wants to work in and through us to literally transform the world! So we gotta get out of the boat! If we don’t, the world won’t change. Our friends, neighbors, co-workers, and loved ones, among others, will go on lost, desperate, searching and hurting while we sit by, too afraid to jump the miniscule wall of fear that holds us captive because doing so might disrupt our comfortable lives. If we do get out of the boat, though, God will do amazing things in and through us. He will radically transform the world around us, he will reach out and touch, comfort, and heal people through us, and he will radically transform our individual faith in him. Pastor John Ortberg writes, “Only Peter knew that when he sank, Jesus would be there, and he was wholly adequate to save. The other disciples could not know because they never got out of the boat. This is the fundamental truth: If you want to walk on water you’ve got to get out of the boat. If you want to experience the power of God in your life, you’ve got to take a step of faith. It involves risky obedience.” God is calling. Don’t be afraid to answer!
ASK: Am I living a life marked by fear or faith? In what areas of my life is God calling me to step out of the boat?