Jesus is a remarkable man. Whenever we follow Him through the Gospels we find the miraculous exuding from His presence. At this famous account we find another such miracle. In Matthew 14:22-36, the Lord Jesus reveals the extent of His lordship over creation.
Matthew says, “Immediately He urged the disciples to embark on the boat and go before Him onto the other side…” (v.22; authors translation) Jesus ordered the disciples to leave the site of the miraculous feeding of the 5,000 men. He dismissed the crowds as well because He was seeking seclusion. Jesus did not do so for rest alone, but for prayer.
Here we find the unexpected – Jesus is a serious and vigorous man of prayer. He removed Himself from every distraction, and came to meet with His heavenly Father in the power of the Holy Spirit. We find in Christ a model for our own need for prayer.
Prayer can often be difficult for us because we are so easily distracted. In Christ, we are shown that if we are struggling to pray, we need to find a place of solitude, void of distraction so that our heart’s can focus upon our God. Notice that Jesus’ prayer was not a mere moment, but endured throughout the whole night. As we are reminded by the Lord’s Prayer, quantity is not equal to quality. There are times where shorter prayers are more appropriate in the lives of Christ’s saints. But when we seek to grow in the Lord, when we are alone with Him and need to pour out our hearts, perhaps a lengthy conversation is best. Upon finishing his communion with God in prayer, Jesus moves towards the sea.
The Bible teaches us that Jesus walked on the waters. He was not swimming, nor parasailing, nor kayaking. Jesus wasn’t even walking through some low tide waters. But what Matthew is telling us is that Jesus was doing the impossible – walking on top of the water to a boat miles away. We’ve seen Jesus heal the sick, exorcize demons, and even raise the dead. However marvelous these signs and wonders are they only lead him into the court of the Old Testament prophets. But when Christ walks on the waters, He has left that court and entered into the Holy of Holies, by doing what only God can do. This of course is absolutely telling for us. Matthew wants us to see that Jesus is no ordinary prophet because Jesus does what only God can do (cf. Job 38:16). We ought to pause as we consider such a claim. What sort of power and majesty is veiled in the man Christ Jesus? In this man we find not only God-like qualities, but we find the eternal Son of God Himself.
At the appearance of the sea-walking Christ, the disciples cry out in fear. They cry out, “it’s a ghost!” (v.26 ESV). And yet in compassion, Christ calls out to His own and says, “Take heart; it is I; fear not.” (v.27 ESV) Jesus called them to be courageous – something God had so often done Himself and through His prophets when His people felt as if they were in immediate danger (cf. Exodus 14:13). He then said, “It is I”. On the one hand this declaration is the cry of a familiar voice calling out to a friend that no danger is present. They heard the voice of their master and their hearts were calmed, just as a child when it hears the voice of its father. But on the other hand, Jesus is doing more than pronounce His presence. He is also pronouncing His identity. When Moses had been called by God to deliver Israel, God revealed His name. God said, “I AM WHO I AM.” (Exodus 3:14 ESV) Not only do we see Christ do what only God can do, but in this moment when Jesus declares, “It is I’, another way of translating Jesus’ words has Him saying “I AM”. Jesus identifies Himself as only God has the right to.
Do you see Jesus as another prophet as Islam does? Do you see Him as a mere social activist and proper example as many progressive and liberal churches do? Or do you see Him as the Son of God, the eternal second person of the trinity who bears in His very being, the same nature of God? Is Christ worthy of worship to you? He is worthy of such worship by the apostles (v.33), and has always been worthy to His church. Worship the King. Worship Christ Jesus. Only in Him do we find one worthy of our heart’s passion and need.
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