Monday, June 1, 2009

Simple Worship

I was really affected by the simplicity of Matthew 14:33, “And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, 'Truly you are the Son of God.'”

Of course, the disciples had just seen Jesus walking on the water, which is a pretty good reason to recognize the power of God. They had also seen Peter walking on the water at the invitation of Christ, clearly not of his own ability. His brother, Andrew, was there; and I can’t help but thinking that out of every person watching, Andrew was probably the most awed. I have a pretty non-supernatural view of my sisters. Imagine if you saw your sibling walking on water with the Savior of the world. I would be impacted if I saw that. We used to pretend to walk on the water by riding pool floats as kids, but it is probably not the same thing.

If there were any doubts left in the minds of the disciples as to the identity of Christ before they saw Jesus sauntering up across the waves, they were now challenged. This verse from Matthew draws me into this story. I wonder why this simple statement was the outcome of this event. Bear with me….Jesus has multiplied food, healed the sick and taught with authority unlike anyone the disciples had ever heard. But this event made them worship Jesus by simply saying, “Now I believe that you are who you say you are”.

It was rough out there on the sea. Really, it was an odd time for a walk. Imagine this…Jesus, a wind tossed sea, and there He was just making His way across. It says that he was walking ON the sea, which would just add to the mystery as he went in and out of sight, walking up and down the waves. I am not sure of the mechanics of this, so this is my mental movie.

His friends are all on this boat that has been carried out to sea. They had been out there from late afternoonish maybe, until the next morning. Jesus told them to go ahead of him, but something tells me that they did not expect this. By the time that Jesus reaches the boat, the only way to explain the scene is that the disciples are freaking out. They are jumping on the, “I think that I am seeing a ghost” train. They were literally terrified; the text says crying out, so tears maybe, loud voices, absolutely.

The disciples did not even recognize Jesus. We don’t know how close He was, but Jesus has to reassure them, saying, “Hey guys, easy, it is only me”. I love that Jesus never allows us to be afraid of Him. We are to fear our God, but Christ comes in such grace and mercy that in His presence we know we are safe. This is probably why Peter was bold enough to ask the next question. Interestingly enough, Peter is asking Christ to verify who He is, and I concede that Peter desired proof because this is scary stuff. BUT, if you were not sure of “the ghost” that you saw on the water, would you ask to walk out of a boat to meet him? I am thinking that Peter was pretty sure that it was Christ. I think that Peter was asking if he could join Him, not only because of his desire for proof but because it might be a cool guy thing, also. I can totally see my husband wanting to do that.

Indeed, impetuous Peter jumps right out at Jesus’ invitation. He gets on the water and is on his way to Jesus. I have heard this preached so many times. Poor Peter, he did not have the faith to keep walking…well, maybe, but it says that he noticed the strong wind. It is like he just had a reality check on being human. We don’t usually have the buoyancy to walk on the water. I, personally, sink like a rock. So, during heavy winds, which mean heavy waves, in the middle of the sea, Peter finds himself walking around and he starts to get scared. I find this more logical than the desire to get out of the boat.

The sinking was obviously not fun because Peter cried out again. The last time that he cried out was when he thought he saw a ghost. So, we know that this is usually terrifying. He says, “Lord, save me”. What happens then? Jesus IMMEDIATELY reaches out his hand and catches Peter. Jesus’ words are like a pat on the head. “Oh, Peter, you were doing so great, why did you start to freak out?” Our lack of faith is something that Jesus refers to frequently in the gospels. He is aware that it is a condition of His flock.

We just suffer from this malady of too little faith. I don’t really know how to overcome that. I am not sure that it is wise to live in denial of the basic rules of physics, but God has differentiated Himself from the mundane in my life. When I ask Him to let me participate in His kingdom, it is usually in ways that I cannot anticipate. I don’t think that I have once moved in a linear pattern since I have been a committed Christian. It is kind of exciting. I guess that I could say that I have walked on my share of proverbial water as His follower.

So, the impact of this was that those on the boat worshipped Jesus. Something big happened here. Everyone was on the same page. This was personal. It was about them, the life of their friend and brother. This was not some little event. This brought the disciples to their knees with reverence. All they could say is, “I get it, you are He, you are the Son of God”, and there is something in that.

For one thing, it redefines worship for me. Worship is simple. It is me saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God”. You have proved it in my life. You are active and you demonstrate your power in ways that I could not know without you. You invite me to the impossible, knowing that I could fail. You reach out and rescue me when I realize that I am only me, with no special buoyancy or wind deflection system. I get scared and I can’t walk out there on my own. My faith fails and my feet sink. Still He catches me. He is the Son of God. Worship simply states who He shows Himself to be in my life.

There is one more time that I find this statement. After the death of Christ, Matthew 27:54 says, “Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, 'Truly this man was God’s Son!'” How interesting that when we see God in His power, we recognize it. It looks right and feels right. We know that we have been in the presence of the living God. Jesus was worshipped by those who killed Him. The power of this moment overwhelms me.

I believe that He gives us the opportunity to worship Him every day. It can be simple, as simple as these verses in Matthew. Let’s take the time today to simply acknowledge that Jesus is exactly who He says He is.

Father, thank you for allowing us to walk on the waters of your kingdom with you. Thank you for withstanding our weaknesses and failures. We pray that you would show us your grace and mercy again today as we worship you for everything you are.

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