I’ve never tried to walk on water. Have you? If Peter can do it, I think we all can–if we have the right mindset and trust. But Peter started to sink, and I’m sure we would, too. I don’t know about you, but I tend to overthink everything. That’s exactly what Peter did. Jesus’ words are ringing in my head, “Why did you doubt me?”
We are all guilty of that doubt from time to time. Our faith can falter with the breeze. If we encounter a stumbling block or even a roadblock in our lives, we tend to seize up and become stuck. We were not promised a trouble-free life. We were promised to never be alone. We were promised to be loved no matter what.
Jesus knew that he was ruffling feathers. He was upsetting the status quo. In some cases, Jesus was making the Pharisees and religious leaders look ridiculous. Not on purpose, but because the truth reveals the darkness and hardened hearts. The people were oppressed by the government. There was fear. People were waiting for their promised Savior to come rescue them.
Then Jesus arrives on the scene. He had followers. He was healing people all over the place. He was proclaiming the Good News. It must have seemed too good to be true. But Jesus wasn’t the first to come along. Satan has used false prophets throughout history to throw people off, to lure them away from the truth. We can see evidence of that still today. We are still a people in need of a Savior.
Friends like that are a treasure. The life of the paralyzed man changed that day in a big way because of his friends. You might wonder what happened before the men carried their friend to Jesus. Perhaps the paralyzed man had never seen Jesus healing other people because he wasn’t able to get around. Would he have doubted his friends who obviously had seen Jesus’ miraculous work? They were sure that Jesus could help their friend. Jesus could see their faith.
Then it got a little dicey. Jesus simply said to the man, “Take heart, your sins are forgiven.” Well, that would have been quite a statement. God is the only one who can forgive sins. Who did Jesus think he was? The teachers of the law in the crowd were mumbling among themselves. Jesus knew their hearts, too. He called it out almost as quickly as their opposition began to grow.
We are not perfect. We all have a “dark” side whether we admit it or not. Maybe we like to talk about other people (gossip), maybe we like to spend money we don’t have (greed), maybe we want things we can’t have (covet), maybe we stretch the truth a little to embellish a story (lie). We can even say, “the devil made me do it.” But this is serious. We do let evil in and sometimes it stays for good.
Like in our story today. Jesus and his disciples encountered two men who were overcome by demons making them “violent.” This same story, with a few differences, also appears in Mark and Luke’s gospels. There must be an important lesson here. Let’s not take time to compare these differences in perspective. Let’s focus on what Matthew is telling us.
This is a Bible story I have acted out time and time again. As a Sunday School teacher, you always hope that using an “experience” like a re-enactment will help the kids to grasp a little of what’s happening here. It’s more than the waves. It’s more than Jesus being a deep sleeper.
This is something that happened, rather than a parable or story Jesus is telling. But the lessons we see here are plentiful. We see Jesus get into a boat with his disciples, presumably to retreat to a quieter destination where the crowds aren’t closing in. We see Jesus falling asleep out of pure exhaustion. Jesus is God, but he is also human, and he has been in demand with his teachings and healings. Who wouldn’t be totally spent and ready for some peace and quiet?