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Gospel centred sermons, based on the lectionary often in advance.

Jul 27, 2011

Focus reading: Matthew 14:22–33

At my induction I said that I believe that it’s not us who go to God, it’s God who comes to us. In today’s story from Scripture that’s the whole shape of what happens. We need help from outside. We can not make it by ourselves. All of us, not just Peter and the disciples are of “little faith”. It’s only because Jesus came to the disciples and called them that they were able to follow.

In the assignment of life Jesus is calling you to plunge in. Jesus is calling you to have a go at following him on the adventure of ministry, mission & service. He’s calling you to the adventure of loving your neighbour. Step out of the boat, sure at least a few times you might go under, but he is always there to lift you up.

Questions for thought or discussion

What is the the nature of faith? To what extent is faith about us? To what extent is faith a gift from God? 

What boats have you steped out of in your life? Where is God commanding you to go?


Andrew Gillies
eight and a half years ago

NOTES OF SERMON
Analogy - Doing an assignment.
a. The subject is hard but a great teacher, an area that you like - but all at sea.
b. Assignment - you see the teacher model it explain the background - trust, -grow in confidence.
c. You think you can do it and you plunge in.
d. You share what you’re doing with your friends. “You’ve got it wrong........
e. Your world caves in, you feel engulfed, in desperation you take your draft to the teacher....

All of us - not just Peter or the disciples have an assignment - It’s the faith assignment...

14:22-33
For most of the time Jesus ha been with the disciples. He’s been modelling ministry. He’s been inspiring... He’s been challenging. The disciples like him... Now he gives the disciples a small faith assignment...
The assignment begins in v 22-23 Jesus orders the disciples and crowds away in order to have some time alone in prayer. cf 14:13.
24 At the same time as Jesus prays alone the disciples are battered and tossed by the waves and so unable to get to shore. [In every Christian’s life and for that matter in there are times when this happens... We seem to be tossed around... Despite the church and X’n being tossed around, Jesus is praying for it.] This is the next part of the assignment. No record that they were afraid or about to give up, but if they were normal people, the fear would probably be building... In the assignment analogy, some of them probably already felt overwhelmed, the task was beyond them and they were not going to pass... You may have felt that surely they would have remembered Jesus’...
25 (Water here and in 24 is important. Water represents Chaos and destruction - Flood, the sea monster, source of the beast in Rev and in the new heaven and earth 21:1 the Sea is no more. Some of the disciples may not have been swimmers and they are in a storm! )
26So when a figure starts walking towards them on the water it is not surprising that they are terrified and think Jesus is a ghost. This was a real test of their faith, an assignment that for most of us not just the disciples would have been difficult to pass. It’s like a scene out of a horror movie
27 In the midst of their terrible fear (with just cause), Jesus speaks words of assurance. [Jesus comes to us in our storm tossed lives/world just as he came....] He speaks, he calls to us... At this point - the assignment analogy breaks down. In an assignment set by a teacher - you do most of the work yourself and whether you pass or fail depends on your own efforts. The assignment of faith is different because our pass or fail depends not on ourselves but on Jesus. The teacher, Jesus, completes the assignment for us and gives us a pass mark, even when we muck it up
I believe a misunderstanding of the nature of faith.
f. Not about what we do...
g. About how we respond because Jesus has broken into our lives. Peter and the disciples so far seen Jesus..., but also mucked up....
h. In the light of all this - Peter does something astounding - but doesn’t just hop out of the boat because he understands better than anyone.....➘

28-29 So Peter says "command me to come to you" To be obedient you must believe, to believe you must be obedient.(Bonhoffer) Peter has already been called by Jesus and travelled with him for some time. Peter shows faith but it depends on the call/command of Jesus, not on Peter.
i. Faith doesn’t depend on us.

30 This can be seen in Peter’s "little faith" which falters as the wind springs up. [In the seas of life, we are tossed about and begin to drown but we cry out to the Lord..... cf Epistle for today Rom 10:13] .

31 Jesus Saves us and Peter and lifts us back up - catches us -saves us from drowning.
j. From Beginning to end our faith depends on Jesus.
At my induction I said that I believe that it’s not us who go to God, it’s God who comes to us. In today’s story from Scripture that’s the whole shape of what happens. We need help from outside. We can not make it by ourselves. All of us, not just Peter and the disciples are of “little faith”. It’s only because Jesus came to the disciples and called them that they were able to follow. It was only because Jesus came to him and called him that Peter was able to step out of the boat. On his own he drowns. He fails the assignment. But looking to Jesus again - Jesus rescues him...

32-3The story ends with Jesus apparently calming the storm. Jesus’ power over the water and the wind has been displayed and his salvation of Peter has been displayed. For the disciples (and I believe, for us) there is no other response but to worship him as Son of God. The assignment is complete, the disciples have survived, because their teacher finished the work and did the bits they could not do.

In the assignment of life Jesus is calling you to plunge in. Jesus is calling you to have a go at following him on the adventure of ministry, mission & service. He’s calling you to the adventure of loving your neighbour. Step out of the boat, sure at least a few times you might go under, but he is always there to lift you up.