Jesus the Loving Savior
The 14th chapter of Matthew is an action-packed chapter. The 36 verses begin with the brutal murder of John the Baptist because he preached the truth (vv 1-12). After hearing this tragic news, Jesus responds by feeling compassion for the multitude that follow him and healing their sick (vv 13-14). What follows is the miraculous feeding of the five thousand (vv 15-21). Later, many other sick are healed by only touching the hem of Jesus’ garment (vv 34-36). In between these two miraculous events is the story of Jesus walking on the water (vv 22-33).
After many hours on the mountain praying, our Lord walks across the sea in the early morning hours, towards the boat that holds His disciples. Their vessel is tossed by the wind and waves. They are tired after this difficult night and become terrified as they see what appears to be a ghost approaching their vessel, through the storm, walking on the water. Even those closest to Jesus don’t recognize Him as he draws near.
Our theme for the Southside lectures beginning tomorrow is “Do You Know My Jesus?” No doubt there are millions around this world who need their first introduction. Sometimes though, those closest to Him, when worn down and confused by the affairs of life, can also forget how close He is or how great His powers are. Maybe even what He even looks like.
This week we will be reminded.
Jesus seeks to reduce the concerns of His frightened followers saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid” (v 27). Our Lord has come a long way across the water to be within speaking distance of the boat. He stands on the sea looking up at His beloved disciples when Peter asks to be able to go out and join Jesus. He is told to “Come” (v 29).
Our yearly theme for 2019 is “Come to Jesus”. He has come such a long distance; from the splendor of heaven to earth, through death, and now stands watching and waiting for our response to a simple invitation that requires only a few steps to meet him: “Come” (Matthew 11:28).
That invitation is still open at all times for everyone.
Peter of course does so and miraculously makes it out to Jesus. But, as we know, the storm distracts him and his confidence wavers. He begins to sink and cries out, “Lord, save me!” (v 30).
The following verses say, “And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.”
The scriptures are full of verses that speak about the mission of Jesus. He came to save the world (John 12:47), or more specifically sinners (1 Timothy 1:15) which is the reality for all who have ever lived (Romans 3:23). His blood provides for us the potential to be justified (Romans 5:9) with redemption and forgiveness (Ephesians 1:7). We can read how He always lives to make intercession for those who come to God through Him (Hebrews 7:25).
We can learn a lot about Jesus in this one chapter of Matthew though. We’ve mentioned His love and compassion for the thousands thronging around Him even at the worst of times because of His cousin’s unnecessary and unjust death. His reaction to this evil is prayer and concern for others. We see His power demonstrated many times in many ways over sickness and nature. He is somehow able to make the leftovers larger than the original meal served to feed the masses gathered around him.
Possibly the best part of the whole chapter is that short phrase after Peter has cried out to be saved. Peter’s faith has been shaken, but he still knows where to turn in his distress. Jesus is ready.
“Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him” (v 31).
Think about that. Let its importance sink in. It applies just as much for us today as it did that morning on the turbulent sea. When we look to Him for salvation, there is no delay in His response. It is immediate to those who obey and follow His word.
His open hand is ready for us to cling to, pulling us from danger and death, quieting the cares of this life, and allowing the safe transport to the shores on the other side (Hebrews 9:15).
Do you know my Jesus? Reacquaint yourself if necessary. He is very close by, dispelling fear and lovingly reaching out, asking each of us to come. The moment we realize how much we need His help, Jesus the loving Savior is waiting (Romans 8:35).
“And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Ephesians 5:2).