Tuesday, February 12, 2019

"He doesn’t carry a club for nothing."

Slogging Along in the Paths of Righteousness: Psalms 13–24Slogging Along in the Paths of Righteousness: Psalms 13–24 by Dale Ralph Davis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dale Ralph Davis is my all-time-favorite Old Testament commentary writer.

His books are a perfectly delightful concoction of pungent wordsmithing, scholarly erudition, homespun storytelling, and warm-hearted piety. They are how devotional-level commentaries ought to be written.

Felicitously, this year, I’m slowly working through the Psalms each day, and I had not yet read Slogging Along in the Paths of Righteousness which tracks the second twelve Psalms in the Psalter. [Tell me that he’s writing on the next twelve!] So Davis has been my close companion for Psalms 13-24.

I don’t have time to write a full review, but here’s a taste from Psalm 23–a psalm that could easily be too familiar and overexposed to really hear. But Davis, while not introducing novelty is always fresh. He offers his own translation:

'Your club and your staff–they comfort me.' In part, the club and staff comfort because they are tokens of the shepherd’s presence–much as a hammer, saw, and tape measure imply a carpenter is near. But the shepherd also uses the club and staff; the staff to guide or control the flock, the club to beat the daylights out of the sheep’s enemies.
We may need a corrective here; we need to remember that a shepherd’s work was hard and dangerous, and shepherds had to be ‘tough hombres.’ In his encyclopedic "Treasury of David," C. H. Spurgeon includes a quotation from J. M. Porter, who described some nineteenth-century shepherds he observed, apparently in northern Transjordan:
"The shepherds themselves had none of that peaceful and placid aspect which is generally associated with pastoral life and habit. They looked like warriors marching to the battlefield–a long gun slung from the shoulder, a dagger and heavy pistols in the belt, a light battle-axe or ironheaded club in the hand. Such were the equipments; and their fierce flashing eyes and scowling countenances showed but too plainly that they were prepared to use their weapons at any moment."
Let this percolate in your gray matter. Let us realize that Jesus Christ, our Shepherd, is no emaciated weakling. Our shepherd is a warrior, as shepherds had to be. No one can snatch His sheep out of his hand. The muscles of Jesus’ arm are flexed to defend His flock; He doesn’t carry a club for nothing. He is obviously enough for whatever the valley throws at us.
Amen!

[I have slightly slightly edited the long quotation, deleting the parenthetical references and adding some paragraphing for clarity on this page.]

View all my Goodreads reviews.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

[Matt's Messages] “The Creator and His Creation”

“The Creator and His Creation”
Reflections on the 2019 EFCA Theology Conference
February 10, 2019 :: Genesis 1, Revelation 21

Thank you for sending me this week to the EFCA Theology Conference. This was my fifth year in a row getting to attend this national conference of EFCA pastors and church leaders and theologians who care deeply about thinking deeply about God and His Word.

Thank you for praying for me, especially on Wednesday, as I answered questions as part of a panel that was doing a Q&A on the proposal before the conference this summer to change a word in our doctrinal statement. I was nervous right up to the beginning of the hour, but by the end, I wished that I had gotten to answer more questions! I know that was your prayers. So thank you!

The conference had a lot of other parts to it than I will share with you this morning, but the seven main sessions were all about The Doctrine of Creation. It’s theological significance and implications.

And it was a really really good conference!

The teaching was rich and expert and excellent and careful and thoughtful and coherent.

I was really glad that I got to participate, and I wished that you all could take it all in, as well.

So, I thought, what if I gave them just a few of the highlights of things I learned or was struck by?

So, that’s what we’re going to do today.

Normally, when Christians start talking about the Doctrine of Creation, the discussion almost inevitably goes over to the questions of WHEN and HOW?

“When was the world created and how was the world created?
When were humans created and how were humans created?

How old is the Earth?
How old is humanity?”

Questions like that.

And those are good questions that must be wrestled with especially in light of the current somewhat contentious consensus of modern science on those questions.

There is tension there.

But that’s not what our conference was about.

Those questions were there and running in the background, but they weren’t in the foreground at this conference. Just one of the 7 talks got into it.

Trinity, our school, has been studying the doctrine of creation from multiple angles  as part of a three year project funded by a 3.4 million dollar Templeton grant.

And this conference was part of the fruit of that project.

The point of our conference was theological.

The theological significance and implications (practical) for the doctrine of Creation.

So the chief questions were more like: WHY and WHO and SO WHAT?

Those are tied to WHEN and HOW, of course.

But they are more fundamental and more meaningful for our every day lives.

As I said, there were seven main talks about the Creator and His Creation, but I want to give you the whole thing in just three big biblical ideas.

Number One:

#1. GOD MADE ALL THINGS GOOD.

Let’s look at Genesis chapter 1, verse 1.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

The first sentence in the Bible, and what a sentence it is!

Our statement of faith starts here, too.

In Article One it says, “We believe in one God, Creator of all things...”

When Moses says “the heavens and the earth” that is what is called merism.

A merism is when you give two contrasting things and you mean those two things and everything in between.

Day and Night
A to Z
From Soup to Nuts

What that means is heaven and earth and everything that is between the two.

Which is...everything!

It is all things!

God made all things.

If it’s a thing, and it isn’t God, it was made by God.

Just let your mind be blown by that.

That’s what we spent the week thinking about.

Being a creation of God.

Being in the creation of God.

Do you think of yourself as a part of creation?

Do you think of creation at all?

And God didn’t just make all of creation but He made it all good.

That’s the refrain of the song of Genesis chapter 1.

I won’t read it all to you, but again and again it says, “God saw that it was good.”

“God saw that it was good.”
“God saw that it was good.”
“God saw that it was good.”
“God saw that it was good.”

And then when He had made everything including us, it says, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”

Now, this is something I needed to hear this week.

I needed to be reminded of how good creation is.

How pleasing. How right. How precious. How wonderful. How well-designed.

How good creation is.

The Hebrew word is “Tov.”

As in “Mazel Tov.”

Tov, Tov, Tov.

I needed to be reminded because the world has been corrupted by sin.

This world is broken. All things are not as they should be.

I don’t have to convince you of that.

All you have to do is watch the news.

Go to a hospital or a funeral.

But that comes in at Genesis 3.

That’s not how things were designed to be.

That’s not how things were at the beginning.

God made all things good.

Now, what are the implications of that?

We could spend the whole morning just on that!

But here’s one. God deserves all of our worship for making all of the things–including us!

Worship!

What kind of a God can make all of this?

I talk to a lot of hunters who worship God in nature.

They go out there in the woods, and they say, “How can anyone doubt that there is a God when they see that?”

And they are led to worship the Creator God in His Creation.

And that’s exactly right.

You know my favorite place on God’s green Earth, right?

Cook Forest State Park.

I can see the glory of God in what He has made.

Trees, ferns, river, stones, wild-life, hills, trails. Beautiful!

There is very little light pollution there.

On a clear night, I like to go out to this one field and just look at all of the stars. You can see like the whole Milky Way.

Psalm 19 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”

Now, get this.

The world needs God, but God does not need the world.

The theological/philosophical word for that is “contingent.” The world is contingent, but God is not.

The world depends on God, but God does not depend on the world.

Even if there was no world, there still would be a God.

But if there was no God, there would be no world.

God made all things good, and that means that He deserves all of our worship!

That means giving thanks for all of our gifts.

When we pray before a meal, we thank the Lord for His good provision.

But we should give thanks just for existing at all!

Because we wouldn’t if it wasn’t for Him.

And don’t forget, we were made by God through Jesus.

John picked up this these in His Gospel

“In the beginning [what] was the Word [who we know as Jesus], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”

All things were made through Jesus.

Paul said it this way in Colossians 1, “For by him [Jesus] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

I guess He deserves all of our worship!

If He wasn’t holding us all together, we would all fly apart!

God Made All Things Good.

Metal? Stars!  Hot.  Cold.  Wet.  Moist.  Fire.  Nuclear Fission.  Atomic Particles.  Brain Cells.  Mountains.  Weather.  Blood Vessels.  Continents.  Snow.  Mice.  Microbes.  Blue Whales.  Tomatoes.  Eggs.  Galaxies.  Moons.  Meteors.  Tidal Waves.  Northern Lights.  Dirt.  Milk.  The Big Dipper.  Softness.  Scratchiness.  Lukewarmness.  Humanity.  Grasshoppers. Light Waves.  E=MC2.  Gorillas.  Giraffes.  Deserts.  Palm Trees.  Mexican Jumping Beans.  Caves.  Windstorms.  Ponds.  Fresh Air.  Falling Leaves.  Corn Cobs. The Milky Way.  Combustion.  Eyelashes.  Uranium.  The Smell of Skunks.  The Color Purple.  The Fabric of Reality. 

God Made All Things Good.

Number Two.

#2. GOD MADE ALL OF US IN HIS IMAGE.

Drop your eyes down to verses 26 through 28.

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’”

God made all of humanity in His image.

Last year, we learned the Latin phrase for that: “Imago Dei.” Remember that?

The image of God.

We were made special. The capstone of creation.

And were made to image God in the world.

There are so many implications for that.

One is just the sanctity of life, right?

What the folks from the PRC are always talking about, “You matter to God.”

Human life is sacred.

We can’t trash humans.

We aren’t allowed to just treat humans like trash.

Especially the most vulnerable.

We’ve seen in our culture just recently an abhorrent disdain for human life.

Made in the image of God.

One of the speakers, Paige Cunningham, is the director of Trinity’s Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity.

And that’s one of the things she talked about–humans have an intrinsic dignity because we are stamped with the very likeness of God.

And, of course, that goes for humans of all races. This is Black History month, and I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the disgraceful ways that African-Americans have been treated over the last 400 years.

How different the story could have been if they had been treated as the image-bearers they are!

We tend to love and respect and care for those people who look the most like us.

But God says that fundamentally all humans look, in some way, like Him[!]. That’s more basic, and that should govern how we treat each other.

Including how we talk to one another.

Like on social media?

Remember when you say something on social media about someone else, even if that someone is a politician or a celebrity or your opponent or your enemy, they are first and foremost made in the image of God.

James says, “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” And that's whether you a trashing President Trump or Speaker Pelosi or someone else.

Let that guide your typing on your phone.

God made all of us in His image.

Both male and female.

Did you catch that in verse 27?

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

One of the talks was about human sexuality.

That humans come in two different sexes: male and female.

And that is good. That is tov.

And all of the implications of that.

Marriage, for example.

God has designed marriage to be a covenantal relationship between one man and one woman.

And sexual relations are to be exclusively practiced within that covenant of marriage between one man and one woman.

That is tov.

Sadly, our world is not tov in so many ways.

On this side of Genesis 3, we see gender dysphoria. Where a person can feel greatly distressed about their biological sex and feel a mismatch between their biological sex and their own mental identity.

On this side of Genesis 3, we see same-sex attraction. Where a person is drawn romantically and sexually to people of their own sex instead of to the other sex.

And on this side of Genesis 3, we all need to have great compassion for people who are experiencing those things.

Because on this side of Genesis 3, we are all sexually broken, just in different ways.

We all feel the effects of the Fall.

We can’t celebrate that sexual brokenness.

But we can have all kinds of compassion for others.

And walk alongside them.

And, by God grace, point them towards God’s good design.

Tov.

The speaker about this said something really profound. He pointed to Jesus who was male and is still male today.

And he said that Jesus was fully human and fully sexual as a male but not fallen in any way.

Fully human and fully sexual.

And yet Jesus never "had sex."

He didn’t have to "have sex" to be fully human or to be fully actualized or even fully male.

Think about the implications of that.

Our culture doesn’t get that. Not at all.

Our culture thinks that having sex is life.

But as good as sex is, and it was designed by God, so it’s really good.

It isn’t that important.

It’s not where life is.

Just look at Jesus.

That re-calibrates singleness, doesn’t it?
That re-calibrates celibacy.
That re-calibrates sexuality.

You can see how much there was to think about this week.

God made all of us in His image.

And when He did that, He gave us work to do, didn’t He?

There was a whole message on our responsibility to care for the creation that He gave us.

So what Jared does over there in the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

What we should all do as we care for this world that He has given us dominion over.

Don’t let the politically far Left be the only people talking about caring for this world. God told us right here that we are to be the benevolent rulers, protecting and cultivating and caring for this creation. We are stewards of it, and will be held accountable for what we did with it.

And there was a whole message on The Doctrine of Creation and Human Work.

Do you remember a few years ago I got fired up by a teacher who said that we pastors don’t do enough to prepare our people to be disciples of Jesus in the workplace, and I preached a series of messages called “Working for the Lord?” Remember that?

That same guy did this talk at the conference.

And he gave me another great idea for how to see our work as worship and to highlight your work for the Lord on Sunday mornings.

Starting today, we’re going to have regular interviews and prayer times on Sundays that we’re going to call “Jesus at Work.”

And I want to do the first one right now.

I called Laurie last night and asked if she would serve as a guinea pig for this.

Laurie, if you would come up here?

I’ve got three questions for you, and then we’ll pray for you.

1. What will you be doing this week at work?
2. What are joys and challenges in your work right now?
3. How can we be praying for you as you do your work this week?

We were created for work.

Not just work for compensation, but work for contribution.

Work as our worship. Serving the Lord as His image-bearing creation in His creation.

One more point this morning, and then we’ll go.

And by the way, we’re going to do prayer corners again this week.

And the folks in these prayer corners would love to pray for you about your work this week.

God cares about your work.

God made all of us in His image, and put us to work.

#3. GOD WILL MAKE ALL THINGS NEW.

The conference wrapped up with a message from my friend Mike Wittmer on the Doctrine of Creation and Human Destiny.

And what Mike said was so encouraging because He said that the creation is going to be restored to what it was supposed to be “tov” and even better.

We’re not just going to go to heaven someday, but we’re going to get a New Heaven and New Earth!

Turn to Revelation chapter 21. Look at the first 5 verses:

“Then I [John] saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. [That was the goal all along. Immanuel, right?] They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. [God with us!] He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ [Genesis 3 will be undone. The curse will be reversed. V.5] He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’”

My friend Mike said, “Notice that it doesn’t say, ‘I will make all new things.’ It says, ‘I will make all things new.’”

It will be this world but resurrected.

Mike called it "the Consummation."

“No more death or mourning or crying or pain.”

All of the goodness, the tov, of creation, and none of the bad.

And because of Jesus, it will not just be like it was, it will be redeemed, restored, resurrection, refreshed.

God will make all things new.

What’s the application of that?

Live for and long for that day.

Live for it.

Everything we’ve talked about this morning and more.

Worshiping God for making all things good.
Living out God’s good design in human sexuality, human dignity, human stewardship because of the image of God in humanity.
Working for the Lord in His good creation.

Living for the Lord as His good creation.

And also longing for that day to come when all will be restored.

That’s why the Bible ends with this last prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus!”

Come to make all things new.


****

Questions for Group Discussion

1. Read Genesis 1:1 and make as many observations as you can about that one verse. How foundational is it to everything that we know and believe?

2. What did God make? What does it mean that His creation was made “good?” What are some of the implications of that truth?

3. Read John 1:1-3, Colossians 1:15-17, and Hebrews 1:1-3. What do you learn about Jesus’ relationship to creation in these passages?

4. Read Genesis 1:26-28. What are a few of the implications of the truth that we are made in the image of God? For example, reflect some on the implications for human work, human stewardship, human sexuality, and human dignity. How might you live differently this week because you remember that you are an image-bearer and so are all of the people you interact with?

5. Read Revelation 21:1-5. Do you long for the return of Christ? What do you long for most? How can we pray for each other this week in light of what we’ve learned today?

Sunday, February 03, 2019

[Matt's Messages] "It Is I."

“It Is I.”
Following Jesus - The Gospel of Matthew
January 6, 2019 :: Matthew 14:22-36 

It’s in the all the Bible story books.

We love to tell it to our children.

We love to make application of this story to our spiritual lives.

I can think of a bunch of songs about it. Book titles. Even memes and jokes.

Jesus walks on the water.

It’s the quintessential miracle story about Jesus.

And, just think, it actually happened.

I think sometimes that we can turn this story into a metaphor, and we can miss the fact that it was first of all history.

This isn’t just a story about somebody so wonderful they could “quote unquote walk on water.” This is a story about a time that a man really did! In fact, for a short amount of time, two men really did!

But that’s getting ahead of the story.

First, we need to get our eyes on the ball.

What is the ball in the Gospel of Matthew?

It’s the identity of Jesus, right?

Matthew is a theological biography of the most compelling Person Who ever lived.

The key question that Matthew is always answering–through his genealogies, his stories, his reports of Jesus’ teaching, the miracles, the parables, everything–the key question is “Who is Jesus?”

And once you know, believe, and receive the answer, you are invited and compelled to follow Him. To follow Jesus.

So, Who is this Jesus?

This story at the end of Matthew 14 takes the answer to that question to a whole other level.

And the answer can be captured in a very short little sentence in verse 27.

Jesus says it. He says, “It Is I.”

That’s proper English by the way.

We tend to say, “It’s me.”

But the correct first person pronoun in a predicate nominative is “I.”

[I had an English teacher for a mom! So I had to know.]

Your English versions have it correct. “It is I.”

The Greek is “ego eimi.”

And it makes all of the difference.

Those little words are just as, if not more, important than the miracle itself!

Jesus said, “It is I.”

This story begins with the humanity of Jesus.

It’s going to progress quickly to the divinity of Jesus.

But, I think because it’s going to go there, Matthew starts by painting for us a picture of a very human Jesus.

He wants to be alone.

If you remember, last week, Jesus wanted to be alone, and it didn’t work.

He had heard some bad news, and He wanted to go to a solitary place.

But the crowds found Him.

And He was compassionate. He healed their sick and eventually fed a gigantic crowd.

But He still wants to be alone.

He wants some time alone to pray.

So He sends everybody away. The crowd and His disciples. Verse 22.

“Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side [of the Sea of Galilee], while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.”

Don’t miss that.

In all of the excitement that is soon to come in this story, don’t miss Jesus’ need for time alone with His Father.

And if Jesus needed time alone with His Father, how much more do you and I?

“...he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.”

Do you get alone with God to pray?

Now, I don’t know if Jesus was planning to walk across the Sea this whole time or if He had another plan and decided on the spur of the moment.

He definitely hadn’t told anyone what His plan was because they are sure surprised, but it’s interesting to what they had expected Him to do. How did they expect Him to meet up with them? Perhaps He would catch a later boat.

Jesus’ disciples were in the boat. Jesus was not. V.23

“When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.”

Do you get the picture?

When you cross reference with the other gospels that have this story in it, you find that the boat was about 3 to 3.5 miles from the shore.

More than from here to Kylertown on the water.

And there is a great big headwind that is rocking the boat and probably giving the disciples distress.

And it’s night time. V.25

“During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.”

Can you imagine?

That is as crazy as it sounds!

The fourth watch on the Roman clock was between 3 and 6am.

And Jesus walks right up to them!

Never mind that He was walking on the water, how does He walk right up to them without a GPS?

It’s a windy night on the lake, the waves are up and down and up and down.

And the wind is howling.

And the waves are up and down and up and down.

And Jesus comes walking right up them!

The Gospel of Mark says that He was going to pass them!

Who does that?

The disciples have only one answer. It’s a phantasm! V.26

“When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It's a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear.”

AHHHH!!! Like something out of a horror movie.

We don’t have categories for this!

You and I are like, “Well, He just fed 20,000 people. Who do you think it is?”

But my guess is that if we were in the boat, we’d be like, “Ahhhhh! What is it?”

And this is when Jesus says what He says about His identity. V.27

“But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid.’”

“It is I.”

That makes all the difference, doesn’t it?

It isn’t a ghost.

“It is I.” It is Jesus.

It isn’t a monster.

“It is I.” It is Jesus.

It isn’t something to be scared of but somebody to find your peace in.

“It is I.” It is Jesus.

And remember, the wind is howling, so I think Jesus is yelling this at the top of His lungs. “It is I!”

And that makes all of the difference.

“It is I! Ego Eimi!”

I don’t think that they would have caught this at the time. I’m not even sure that He said it in Greek at the time, because He might have been speaking Aramaic.

But Christians have caught this afterwards in Matthew’s rendition. The Greek words “Ego Eimi” can also be translated...“I Am.”

As in what God said at the burning bush?!

That He is the “I Am.”

What Jesus intimated at another time, when He claimed that “before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58).

And they knew what He was saying then. Because they picked up stones to kill Him.

Who walks on the water?!

Who does that?

Listen to Job chapter 9, verses 4-8.

“[The Lord God’s] wisdom is profound, his power is vast. Who has resisted him and come out unscathed? He moves mountains without their knowing it and overturns them in his anger. He shakes the earth from its place and makes its pillars tremble.  He speaks to the sun and it does not shine; he seals off the light of the stars. He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea.”

Who does that?

Listen to Psalm 77.

Asaph cries out to God in verses 18 and 19. “Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind, your lightning lit up the world; the earth trembled and quaked. Your path led through the sea, your way through the mighty waters, though your footprints were not seen.”

Who walks on the water?

On His own power?

“Ego Eimi! It is I. I am.”

That’s Who Jesus is!

I’ve got four points of application for us today.

And they all flow out of understanding Who Jesus really is, and that if He is in our lives, then it makes all of the difference.

Here’s number one.

#1. TAKE HEART.

Did you see that “It is I” was in a word sandwich?

There are two commands on either side of “It is I.”

“It is I” is in the middle.

“Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

Do you see how “It is I” changes everything?

If it’s Jesus, then we have nothing to fear.

What are you afraid of right now?

Right it down on the back of your bulletin?

What are your biggest fears right now?

I know you’ve got them. We all do.

If you don’t, you’re lying to yourself.

What are you afraid of?

It might be legitimately scary.

These guys were in a boat on the sea at night in a howling wind.

That’s scary.

What are you afraid of?

The word translated “Take courage” in the NIV is the same as in John 16:33, one of my most precious passages. Where Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. [There are scary things out there.] But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

It is I.

Take courage. Don’t be afraid.

Say that to your fears this week. Say, “It is Jesus.”

“He’s right here. And He’s the Great I am. And I am His.”

Take Heart.

Now, this next part of the story is only told to us by Matthew in his gospel. The other gospel writers don’t give us these details. Matthew has the scoop.

Simon Peter shows great promise as a disciple.

He decides he wants to imitate his master. Look how he says it. V.28

“‘Lord, if it's you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’”

“If it’s you!”

“Since it’s you!”

“If you are really Jesus, and you are really walking on the water.

Then let me come out there, too.”

That’s amazing, friends!

And even more amazing, Jesus says, “Alright! Come.” v.29

“‘Come,’ he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.”

#2. STEP OUT.

If Jesus says, “It is I,” and then He says, “Come,” then what should you and I do?

We oughta come!

Faith, real faith acts out.

If you really believe in Jesus, then it will show by your actions.

You will trust Him and you will obey Him.

And you will imitate Him. And you will follow Him.

Now, I don’t think that most or any of us are supposed to walk on water.

That’d be fun. I guess.

But that’s what Jesus says come to us about most of the time.

Most of the time He says, “Come follow me” and share the gospel, forgive someone who sinned against you, serve the poor, use your gifts to minister to others.

Those things aren’t as miraculous as walking on water, but it’s the same Lord asking us to do it.

Step out.

Where do you need to step out in ministry and following Jesus because He’s saying, “Come?”

It might be as scary as walking on water to do what Jesus calls you to.

But He never asks us to go somewhere He isn’t already.

I’m nervous this week about sitting on that panel on Wednesday morning.

Answering questions, perhaps from people who disagree with me and want to express their concerns.

I’m nervous, but I’m going to step out in faith and follow Jesus.

And listen well and try to respond well and love well.

Because Jesus says, “Come.”

Of course, we all know what happens next. Peter takes his eyes off of Jesus. V.30

“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’”

Whew. That was a close one!

I don’t know about you, but I totally identify with Peter.

I’d like to think I’d get out of the boat, but I’m sure that I would see the wind and waves and be afraid.

And Jesus rebukes Him–but it’s gentle.

He calls him, “oligopistoi”–“You of little faith.”

We’ve seen this phrase before in Matthew chapter 6 and chapter 8. We’ll see it again in chapter 16 and chapter 17.

This is one of Jesus’ favorite little phrases for gently rebuking those He loves.

He is saying that Peter has faith, but that he needed more of it. He needed to keep on believing.

#3. KEEP ON.

To keep on trusting.

“You’re learning! Good job getting out of the boat. The other guys didn’t do that.

But why did you stop trusting? Why did you start doubting?

Oligopistoi, why did you stop?

Remember, ‘It is I.’”

Do you need to hear that today?

Maybe you’ve gotten your eyes off of Jesus recently.

Are you looking at the wind and the waves?

Keep on looking at Jesus.

“Fix your eyes on Jesus.”

It is Him!

Don’t look inward to see if you have enough faith.

Look at Jesus and put all of your faith on Him.

And don’t stop.

That’s where we begin to sink, when we take our eyes off of Him, when we start doubting that He is enough. That He is the Great I Am. That He is “ego eimi.”

I love verse 32.

“And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. [Just like that. Just like back in chapter 8, when Jesus told the wind to settle down and settled down. V.33] Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’”

They didn’t know all of what they were saying, but they knew that Jesus was something special.

And they worshipped Him.

#4. WORSHIP HIM!

This Person is the most important Person Who ever lived.

He is a man (remember how needy He was at the beginning of this story), but He is not just a man. And He is not just any man.

He is the Son of God.

Keep your eye on the ball.

This is what Matthew is all about.

Who is Jesus?

“Truly [He is] the Son of God.”

Worthy of our worship.

Worthy of everything we have said and done here this morning and so much more.

The chapter ends with some more people recognizing Jesus and with Him healing some more people just like He had earlier in the chapter. V.34

“When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed.”

Which sets us up for next week because some of these people who touched Him were very unclean. And that doesn’t seem to matter to Him. And that raises some questions that Jesus will answer from the heart.

But right now it’s enough to just see what those disciples saw.

They saw not just a healer. Not just a powerful man.

But the Son of God Himself, the I Am, worthy of all of our worship forever.

****

Questions for Group Discussion

1. Re-read Matthew 14:22-36.

2. Do you remember when you first heard the story of Jesus walking on the water? What details about the story jumped out to you this time?

3. What do you think Jesus meant when He said, “It is I.” (Greek: “ego eimi”) What significance did it have in the moment? What did Christians understand about it later?

4. What difference does it make that Jesus said, “It is I?” Pastor Matt suggested four applications. Which one spoke the most to you? Why?

5. How can the group pray for you as you seek to apply this passage of Scripture to your life this week?

****

Previous Messages in This Series:
01. The Genealogy of Jesus
02. The Birth of Jesus Christ
03. The Search for Jesus Christ
04. The Baptism of Jesus
05. The Temptation of Jesus
06. Following Jesus
07. Jesus' Sermon on the Mount
08. The Good Life (Part One)
09. The Good Life (Part Two)
10. You Are The...
11. Jesus and the First 2/3 of the Bible
12. But I Tell You
13. But I Tell You (2)
14. But I Tell You (3)
15. In Secret
16. Choose Wisely
17. Seek First His Kingdom
18. Generous
19. These Words of Mine
20. When He Saw the Crowds
21. When He Came Down from the Mountainside
22. Follow Me
23. Our Greatest Problem
24. Who Does He Think He Is?
25. Special Agents
26. Sheep Among Wolves
27. What To Expect On Your Mission
28. Are You the One?
29. Come to Me
30. The King of Rest
31. So Thankful!
32. Overflow
33. This Wicked Generation
34. Get It?
35. What Is Really Going On Here?
36. Baptizing the Disciples
37. The Treasure of the Kingdom
38. Living the Last Beatitude
39. Five Loaves, Two Fish, and Jesus