Iam guilty of overlooking small details in familiar stories like Jesus walking on water, but recently a single word jumped out: Jesus made the disciples get in the boat and head out onto the Sea of Galilee. He made them.
If this seems out of character for Jesus, there is a good rea- son. This story presents the only time Jesus is the subject of this particular verb. He does a lot of inviting but not much com- pelling. Yet, this soon-to-be stormy boat ride is one that Jesus essentially forces the disciples to take.
Perhaps Jesus had to make them because the disciples pro- tested. They likely remembered a previous trip during which a storm arose quickly over this same body of water causing them to fear for their lives. (See Matthew 8.) We do not know if Jesus anticipates the coming storm, but such a storm is always pos- sible. In fact, if we follow the sequence of events that Matthew gives us, Jesus sees the storm envelop the boat before he even begins his trek down the mountain and out onto the water.
This boat ride goes beyond discomfort for the disciples—it carries the possibility of danger. Yet neither potential nor real storms bother Jesus. Comfort and safety are not his top priorities, nor should they be our primary criteria when discerning and acting on God’s will.
But Jesus does not leave them alone. He walks into the cen- ter of the storm to be with them—the very heart of Incarnation. God is not some distant being, calling the shots while avoiding the dirt and danger. Instead, Jesus becomes human, and we know him as Emmanuel—God with us.
God, forgive us for the times we protest or even deny your call because it is a challenge. Instead, may we look for your pres- ence and the ways in which you walk alongside us. Amen.
The Genesis text begins the story of Joseph. Things would have turned out very different for Joseph (and for Israel) had it not been for the watchful care of the One who called Israel into being. Psalm 105 brie y recites the saving events in Israel’s life, and this week’s portion remembers the story of Joseph, stressing both the hiddenness and the crucial significance of God’s mercy. In Romans 10 note the manner in which Paul brings the past to bear on the present in terms of God’s saving activity. Notice also Paul’s insistence on the universal availability of salvation. The Gospel lesson of Jesus stilling the storm points to the inexplicable wonder of God’s redeeming love, which can be appropriated and answered only in doxology.
• Read Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28. The writer says, “Not all the challenges we face are a divine plan.” Do you agree or disagree? Why?
• Read Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b. How well does your memory serve you in times of distress to recall God’s presence and past action?• Read Romans 10:5-15. In what situations have you chosen to rely on God?
• Read Matthew 14:22-33. The writer says that comfort and safety should not be our “primary criteria when discerning and acting on God’s will.” Do you agree? Why or why not?
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