I AM here!
Matthew 14: 22-33
As you hear and think about the grace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, may you realize as well, that is only possible because He is here, with you!
An Interrupted Prayer time?
As I study a passage of scripture to preach on it, I look at other passages that are similar. With the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, this is pretty easy, as they cover more than 2/3rds of the same stories.
In this case, Mark’s gospel adds one interesting note, that Jesus’s prayer time, his time talking with God the Father was interrupted. Mark’s gospel adds this little note in
47 Late that night, the disciples were in their boat in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. 48 He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them, Mark 6:47-48 (NLT)
While Mark doesn’t mention Jesus praying, it does mention that HE SAW THEM!
So Jesus heads out – checks on them as He is passing, and that is when something interesting happens.
No, not their freaking out, as they’ve been struggling for 9 plus hours to row and sail a boat against contrary seas. That isn’t interesting, it is tragic. They are tired, and to see someone walking across the sea, in the midst of a horrible eastern Mediterranean storm… well – it’s got to be supernatural, a phantasmic (not fantastic) experience in Greek.
What is interesting is Jesus response to their cries of fear. I AM here.
Sounds like what I keep telling you, you know, “the Lord is with you!”!!!
The Struggles are Real
We need to know that, and some weeks, and some Saturdays, we need to know it even more.
Sometimes we are like the disciples, tired from fighting contrary winds, feeling like the world is going to overwhelm and drown us. Sometimes the other guys in the boat aren’t much of a help, or at least we don’t thing they are. And the wind – there is nothing we can do…
A few years ago, when Kay came back from a mission trip to Siberia, they had a team reunion near a reservoir in San Diego. The reservoir had little sailboats, brand new, in fact the one she and I got in had never been used!
We found that out as we get maybe 100 feet away from the dock, and the rudder, not fully screwed in , because it decides to float away! Then I notice they didn’t insert the centerboard, so there is nothing to keep the boat stable,, and then of course, the wind picks up.
We got blown across the reservoir, where a park ranger met us. She then told kay to get out of the front of the boat, and I learned they didn’t insert the ballast either, and the boat flips over with only my weight on board! Funny it was.. but more than a bit frustrating!
And we didn’t even get to see Jesus walking on the water, and when I got out – I didn’t walk on it! But life sometimes feels like it was that day, failing miserably, helpless, unable to go where I should, and ending up soaking wet!
But Jesus still sees us struggling, even when we aren’t aware of His presence, or His care for us. We don’t, otherwise we wouldn’t freak out, or scream like the disciples did, in fear of their lives.
We often talk about sin as this action, or that action. This evil thought, or those words that hurt that we say. But sin is also when we ignore God, when we try and play God, or choose things our way.
Please hear me, I am not saying the struggle is sin, absolutely not! By no means! But during the struggle, have we forgotten Jesus? Do we remember He cares? If not sin, or often the effect of sin in our lives is evident, for we’ve lost sight of our Lord, our Deliver.
I am here, compared to I AM HERE
Which is why we need to hear his voice, we need to be reminded of His presence. We need to realize it,, we need to let Him calm our fears, put to rest our anxieties, heal our souls and bring peace to our hearts.
By the way, there is a spelling error on the Bulletin, and I may have set this one up when I told Cris the sermon title.
It isn’t I Am Here…. It is I AM here.
That doesn’t seem like much does it? It would be to Peter and Andrew, James, Hahn, Mathew and the rest. You see, in both Greek and Hebrew, Jesus didn’t just reveal that he was walking by.
He revealed he was God, and that He was involved in their life. You see, that I AM is the I AM Moses heard at the burning bush, it is the name of God that is translated as LORD throughout scripture, the name God gave us to call out to him. Yahweh, Ego Eimi, the I AM THAT IAM . The name that was put on the temple for people to know who to pray to, and of course, the name we aren’t to take in vain, but use to pray and to praise God.
During the storm, and at the cross, God is there for you. In the trauma of everyday life, He answers us, and to finally get to that other guy on the water, He says to us as He did to Peter.
Don’t be afraid, I am here – come on – walk with me!
And so we shall, trusting in the Lord who is with you! AMEN!
† Jesus, Son, Savior †
May you know the grace and peace of God our Father, without which it trust enough to cry out to God to save you!
A Story of Deep Faithfulness.
Many people see the song we just sang, A Mighty Fortress, as an anthem, a glorious, powerful anthem, a militant march that prepares us to go off to war against evil, prepared to win all the battles in our spiritual war against Satan’s evil, against the storms of life.
A great cry of confidence and faith as we prepare to engage in a warfare that people’s soul’s depend upon.
I don’t see it that way, which is why we sang it the way we did. I see it as the song of Luther, a man brutalized and battered by the world and by his own battles with sin. Luther who stands on the castle’s walls, relieved that God has taken up the battle. Luther who can now find rest, and perhaps some peace, for once… some peace.
A mighty Fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing…..
There are days we know we need such protection, such a strong God, and we are immensely grateful for His presence. When we are grateful beyond description for His presence, for His faithfulness, for His coming to us.
Then there are the other days, when we forget His presence…….
That is the story of faithfulness, that we see in St. Peter’s encounter with God this day:
The Storms of Life
The storm hits, its fury increases, the spray of the waves and wind soak him to the bone. Peter’s is struggling, the storm is capturing all his attention, as he realizes he is in the struggle for his life.
Catching a glimpse of Jesus, of the one they will later realize again is God, who has come and lived in their midst, Peter calls out to the Lord.
The Lord responds, “Yes,,…. Come!”
Twice in the story this scenario is seen.
A Cry of Help
The Lord, his Master, answers.
And the storms quiet down, as the disciples once again find themselves in awe of the Lord who comes to them.
The two times the story is seen.
First this happens in the boat, as the disciples have been struggling all night against the storm. They are tired, and weakened. They bones ache from the work, or is that they ache because of the cold? Lutheran answer – both of course!
They took off in daylight – it is 8 hours later now, that they’ve been rowing this boat across the lake. They aren’t just fighting the winds and the waves, now they are literally fighting against death, against the anxiety. They might even be thinking, is it worth it anymore.
Jesus comes to them, reaches out to them. Tells them not to be afraid, for it is not some spook, but it is their Lord. He has come for them.
I AM here….
The I AM being the sacred name of God not just – hey, it’s me.
God, the Creator, the I AM that I AM of Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, David….
I AM here…
And therefore everything changes.
A few moments later, the waves crash again, against a rough handed brash man who trusts in God. These waves cause instant fear, and instant sense of the closeness of death. The fear rises in Peter, not just over time – but instantaneously he knows he has no hope…..
He cries out, perhaps with what he thinks will be his last breath….Lord, save me!
And on top the waves, Jesus reaches down, grabs Peter’s hands, as if answering again…. Yes! Come!
I am your Lord, I am your savior, I am your strength, your fortress, your sanctuary, the place where you are safe.
He Has Come, He is waiting,
That is the thing about Jesus, He comes to us, He hears us call.
He sees us in our struggles, He knows our pains, what afflicts and depresses us. He knows what causes us anxiety, He knows the fear when we are sinking.
He is here…..
He is reaching our His hand to us,
He is answering our cry, “Lord Save us” as we realize that we can call out to Him, that He is our hope, whether we are in the boat, or whether we are trying what others call impossible.
Do not fear, I am Here.
Yes, come, let us travel this road together.
That’s What King’s do
Peter’s cry, in both circumstances, starts with the word “Lord”. And this is the key, perhaps more than anything. He realizes the nature of the relationship, that as His master, as His King, Jesus has the responsibility in the relationship. That Jesus will provide and protect, who is in control, and who saves, who loves and comes to us. That is what Lord’s and King’s and Master’s are supposed to do, to care for their people, to provide for them.
This is the nature of the relationship that God has created us to be in with Him. Not one of servants, but that of His children, His friend
We need to realize something else about this story.
When Jesus noted that Peter had “little faith”, it is the same Greek compound word that Jesus uses when he says,
20 “You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.” Matthew 17:20 (NLT)
Peter had enough faith to cry out to Jesus, to plead with Jesus to save Him.
But that is not all faith is for, it is the trust to walk with Him, on water, or to deliver a cup of water, or to share with how the water of baptism brings you the hope, that the Lord is with you and will be with you until the end of the age. To know that He is Lord, no matter what the situation, no matter what the storm. It doesn’t even matter if there is no storm, for He is with you – He has come to you, even on the beautifully calm mornings on the lake. He tells you – Yes Come with me, and so we walk, and pray, talking to our Lord along the ways of life!
He is your Lord, and doesn’t even have to walk across a lake to come to you… He is here… He has reached out to you, and taken your hand Therefore you dwell guarded, protected, in the Fortress that is Jesus Christ, our King.