Scripture – Matthew 14:28-29 "Lord if it's you," Peter replied, "Tell me to come to you on the water." "Come," [Jesus] said.
In Monday's reflection I shared a brief quote from Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 'the response of the disciple is an act of obedience not a confession of faith in Jesus.' Today's reading is from the gospel story that inspired Bonhoeffer's bold claim. The disciples are in a boat, in the middle of a great lake when they are accosted by a storm. All the disciples fear for their lives and fall into panic as Jesus approaches, except for Peter. Instead of being scared by Jesus walking on water, he is inspired and asks if he too can ride the waves. Jesus tells him, 'Come.' And this, for Bonhoeffer, is the true response of faith. Peter could stay safely in the boat, tell Jesus that he believed that he was the Messiah, the son of God and awaited rescue. But Peter wanted to get out of the boat and leave behind the little safety it offered to test the wind and waves with Jesus. Bonhoeffer tells us that this is the truest example of faith in Christ.
This story of Peter and Jesus illustrates the life of Jeremiah for us. Peter is caught up in a deep desire to move through life's storms unaccosted by the waves. But when he actually steps into the storm he is frightened. I don't believe that this story is really told to shame Peter because of his fear. Of course he is a afraid. He has never walked on water in a storm before. Disciples will be called, as we have seen this week to go to new, unknown, intimidated places; to Pharaoh's hall, to the King's court, to leper colonies and isolated villages and those possessed by evil forces. Of course Jeremiah is frightened, resistant and at times filled with regret for speaking the words God has given him. The disciples life will not always be a popular life. The disciples life will not be one of ease or security. Perhaps that is the good news, even though it sounds like cold comfort. The good news is that when life puts us in a situation in which all we know to do is to fall back to pray, mercy, generosity and hospitality, this is God calling us to follow. We are actually on the right path even though we feel lost and alone.
The good news is that we have been chosen (remember Ephesians 1), named, filled with the Spirit, so that we can take the love of God and the word of God into life storms. And not just our own storms, the storms that shake our neighborhoods and our society. The stories of Peter and Jeremiah reveal the good news, which I admit is intimidating as well, that the rescuing, redeeming, healing, justice creating work of God depends on willing disciples like us. It makes me wonder what storms in the world have been left raging because I was afraid or thought myself too small and insignificant. The good news is that God calls the weak and makes them strong, calls the fearful and makes them courageous, calls the silent and gives them voice, so that the dark corners of the world will be enlightened, the forgotten people welcomed, and the violence and suffering undone with peace and healing. The good news is that Jesus continue to invite us as he did Peter 2,000 years ago. And when we feel we are sinking he will raise us up. When we fail, he will call us again. He will call us into a life free of empty pleasures and distractions and into a life of meaning and purpose as he calls us to care for the most vulnerable. It is NOT an easy life. But it is a good life. When we take that first demanding step into the storm and keep our eyes on Jesus.
Prayer - With eyes wide open to the challenges, the obstacles and the discomfort of following you, Jesus, we take our first step. We put our trust today in you, not wealth, not distracting pleasures, not power or force, but you. We leave behind our security and an easy faith for the narrow path with you. And we trust that we will find, through challenges, through sacrifice, through stretching and letting go, a self with meaning and purpose.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.