Mt14 22-33 - Jesus Goes for a Walk
Matt. 14:22-33 - Jesus Goes for a Walk After feeding the multitude Jesus sends away the disciple in a boat and then dismisses the crowd. I find the order interesting because it would seem more “normal” to dismiss the crowd first and then send off the disciples, but by doing things in this order Jesus is afforded the opportunity to go off and pray alone without having to explain it to anyone. I don’t know that there is any significance to this observation, it’s just an image that I have of how Jesus managed his relationship with the twelve and those close to him and the many needy. It would seem that “normally,” as when he had the disciples distribute the bread and fish, that he’d use the disciples to work with the crowds, but in this case he sent them away and dismissed the crowd himself. Again, it could be more of him wanting an opportunity to pray alone than anything else (and of course there’s the idea that he was also setting things up so that he could perform the walking on water miracle, but that seems to calculated to me).
Of course the disciples were alarmed when they saw Jesus walking to them on the water some time between two and four in the morning.. This isn’t something that happens every day. They must have been making quite a racket given the way Jesus tells them to “calm themselves,” that it’s him. There’s something here about how even though no one was as close to Jesus as his twelve, but just turn the world upside down and present them with something that is completely outside their lived experiences and they don’t even recognize who it is who is coming to them on the water. I guess I very much identify with them and their confusion. And even when Jesus seems to admonish them and later when Peter fails, as a teacher I know that we learn through our missteps, and so his words are not repremands that they “should have known” etc., but as a teacher bringing them into a new extraordinary experience. That Peter stepped out of the boat is amazing. That he didn’t really recognize Jesus, or that the circumstances were so confusing as to “cloud his vision” is quite understandable. That he lost his confidence then the storm grabbed hold of his attention is also amazingly human. I do not believe that Jesus’ comment, “O You of little faith” is a flat out repremand. Jesus knew that Peter would falter. If anyone knows the “weaknesses” and tendencies of us humans it’d be Jesus. Again as a teacher, I can almost imagine Jesus, calling him “O You of little faith” almost as a term of endearment that Peter would exhibit so many conflicting things that make us human: faith to step out into the water even though he really doesn’t know what was really going on and at the first sign of understanding he begins to sink and cry out to be rescued. We are, in fact, such amazing children of our Father, challenging when we shouldn’t be, taking chances and stepping out for a hundred different reasons, but so thirsty for the love and hand of our Father. These were terrifying circumstances that Peter stepped into. I can almost imagine that Jesus had to suppress a grin when Peter faltered. As parents and teachers we know what it’s like to see our charges take those steps of growth and even when they fall flat on their faces and cry out, we can only respond with love and joy at their attempts to move forward. Besides demonstrating how complete Jesus’ mastery of creation was, which is both powerful and terrifying, we are also left with this very human example of how the disciples dealt with the miraculous when Jesus was walking among them. I find a great deal of hope and love and strength in this interchange. JBB 8/17/2004
image: lego-jesus-on-water, http://www.thebricktestament.com/the_life_of_jesus/jesus_walks_on_water/jn06_16-17.html