Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Having No Fear Matthew 14:22-33

Fear is one of our base emotions; it's an involuntary experience that moves within us in response to something happening around us. Jesus told his friends not to fear. They were out on the water of Galilee. They'd just seen him feed 5000 men and even more women and children with a few loaves and fish. He'd sent them away, dismissed the crowd, had a time to pray and now they were surprised in the night to meet Jesus out on the water in the midst of wind and waves.

Jesus' responded to his friends' fear,
εὐθὺς δὲ ἐλάλησεν [ὁ Ἰησου̂ς] αὐτοι̂ς λέγων· θαρσει̂τε, ἐγώ εἰμι· μὴ φοβει̂σθε. Matthew 14:27 Novum Testumentum Graece. "But Jesus quickly spoke to them, “Have courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27 NCV)

Jesus met them in their fear and offered them an an invitation to live in faith. Miracles were happening whether they believed or not. He invited them to step out in faith.

Jesus invitation started with assurance of his place in the universe, ἐγώ εἰμι. It is I. These were the same words Moses heard from the bush. This is "I am" talking. Jesus' friends were starting to glimpse his extraordinary personality. Jesus instruction μὴ φοβει̂σθε in you no fear is personal he's telling his friends, "Right now in yourself have no fear."

Peter asked Jesus to invite him out proving that he was real. Jesus said come. Peter stepped out. The water stayed under his feet . He was walking. Then fear returned; he was sinking. He cried save me, and Jesus lifted him up.
"Jesus said, “Your faith is small. Why did you doubt?" Matt 14:31 NCV λέγει αὐτῳ̂· ὀλιγόπιστε, εἰς τί ἐδίστασας; Matthew 14:31 Novum Testumentum Graece.

Peter feared and Jesus remained faithful; and those who saw it all happen in the boat believed. We might fear but Jesus can work around fear. We might doubt his power; but that doesn't limit what he can do.


Nancy Marshall said...

Thank you, again for a thoughtful, spot on interpretation of the passage. It’s about exchanging fear for faith, exchanging sinking under difficult circumstances for rising with Jesus and having confidence in the ἐγώ εἰμι.
My sister recently sent me this quote from Oswald Chambers: "The saint is hilarious when he is crushed with difficulties because the thing is so ludicrously impossible to anyone but God." I actually fail to do this and sink far too many times when faced with the “winds” and stresses and conflicts of life in ministry. But I love the idea of instead laughing at the ludicrousness of anything too hard for God to handle.
I send you prayers of peace and grace this week as you prepare your sermon,

Nancy Marshall said...

Hey Unlikely,
I have been mulling over this Matthew 14 passage for several days now. It's a great story. I put it on my blog with a different take... Bible stories tend to do that, take on a life of their own as you think about them and find them aplying to something you had never thought about before.
Anyway: see what you think:

Nancy in Belize

LawAndGospel said...

Late to the party, but a great interpretation. Another possibility to "Right now, have no fear" is "stop fearing" Either acknowledges that fear has been present until Jesus speaks and is much better than " do not fear." I used this passage several times in devotional with patients at the hospital this summer.