By Sammy Alfaro
Faculty, College of Theology
The gospels record fascinating stories that document Jesus’s training of his disciples. Jesus’s approach to discipleship, however, was not the typical one-hour weekly class where a Christian instructor teaches through the content of a manual. For Jesus, life lessons were more important than mere classroom talks. On one occasion, after a long day of ministry, Jesus decided to send his disciples across the lake while he went up to the mountain to pray (Matthew 14:22-23). What seemed like another day of ministry turned out to be a great life lesson in faith. But the main lesson was not Peter’s audacious walk on the water. Jesus taught his disciples to trust in him even at the darkest times of their lives. In a way, the passage presents a parable teaching Jesus’s modern-day disciples to trust in him despite his apparent absence.
Overnight, the disciples traveled across the lake while the storm and the waves battered the boat. It wasn’t until early in the morning that Jesus would come to them walking on the water. Don’t miss it. All night they had battled the storm! They had feared for their lives and their state of shock led them not to recognize Jesus walking toward them on the water. Why did they not recognize the familiar face? Why doubt even after he identified himself?
The fact is fear leads to doubt and doubt leads us to question even what we know to be true. Think about this. The disciples trusted Jesus enough to get on the boat and cross the sea. But facing the storm led them to doubt. Did Jesus not know they would face a storm if they got on the boat that particular night? Why did he send them ahead and not travel with them? Surely, everything would be different if only Jesus had been with them.
So here’s the lesson: Jesus knew they would face a storm. Jesus prayed for them as they crossed the lake. He was watching from the mountaintop praying their faith would endure. And when the storm was at its worst and his disciples needed him to make himself present, he came walking on the water saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” The truth is he had never left them.
Similarly, ever since Jesus’s ascension he has not been physically present with his disciples, past and present. We have been on a journey and at times have felt all alone, especially when the problems and trials of this world have led us to doubt in him. What we must never forget is that Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father interceding for us (Hebrews 7:25). Even when life is at its darkest, Jesus knows exactly when to come to us to calm the storm.
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