Scripture readings: 1 Kings 19.9,11-13; Romans 9.1-5; Matthew 14.22-33
“Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened. Beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his had and caught him.” – Matthew 14.29-30
This gospel reflects Christians struggles in the A.D. 80s between the experience of having Jesus among them in the flesh and the promise of his risen presence. How does Jesus continue with the community?
Peter puts Jesus to a test. He requests a miracle. “If this is really you, command me to come to you on the water.” This if statement repeats the bystanders’ taunts to Jesus on the cross–“If you are the messiah, save yourself.”
Jesus quickly says, “Come.” The scene invites faith. It suggests the journeys of early Christians to baptism. An early Christian baptistry at Dura-Europa in Syria has this scene painted on its wall above a baptismal pool (A.D. 250).
Stepping into the water and the future requires faith for Peter and for all of us who follow. Boldly Peter steps our of the boat, outside the comfortable circle of disciples and friends in the boat. Immediately strong head winds and great waves take his attention off Jesus and fill him with fear and terror. As he falters, Peter cries out to Jesus, who saves him.
Where are you in over your head and faltering? What do you cry out for?