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Master of the waters (even without a boat)

May 15, 2024

Daily Scripture

Matthew 14:21-26

21 About five thousand men plus women and children had eaten.
22 Right then, Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead to the other side of the lake while he dismissed the crowds. 23 When he sent them away, he went up onto a mountain by himself to pray. Evening came and he was alone. 24 Meanwhile, the boat, fighting a strong headwind, was being battered by the waves and was already far away from land. 25 Very early in the morning he came to his disciples, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified and said, “It’s a ghost!” They were so frightened they screamed.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Herod Antipas had just executed John the Baptizer, and Jesus sought solitude as he dealt with his grief over John’s death (cf. Matthew 14:13). The crowds followed him, though, and he ended up miraculously feeding over 5,000 people. He again went to be alone, while the disciples sailed to the other side of the lake. Due to another storm, he set out to rescue the disciples, “walking on the lake.” Seeing a figure walking toward them on the water completely unnerved them.

  • The story began with a sense of urgency: “Right then, Jesus made the disciples get into the boat” (verse 22). John’s gospel said that after he fed 5,000 people, Jesus had to avoid a crowd eager to forcibly declare him a military leader and king (see John 6:15). Have you ever had to take urgent action to stay in tune with God’s purposes for your life? Are you facing any pressures like that today?
  • In Jesus’ day, many Jews believed that the Sea of Galilee was so deep it held a portal to the “underworld.” “On a popular level, many Gentiles and probably a number of Jews believed in ghosts, although such a belief technically contradicted mainstream Jewish views of the afterlife (heaven or hell and future resurrection).” * What fears, if any, do you deal with based on popular culture, even though they may not fit into your mind’s grasp of Jesus’ teachings?


O God, keep me open to your presence in my world and my life. If you show yourself in an unexpected way, help me to welcome you with joy rather than with fear. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Gwyn Thomas

Gwyn Thomas

Gwyn Thomas serves in donor relations at Resurrection. She’s a Boston native and moved to Kansas City in 2020. Her husband Blake is a provisional elder in the UMC and is a Congregational Care Pastor at Resurrection Leawood. Her favorite pastimes include pottery, hiking, frisbee, trying new restaurants, and spending time with her daughter and their large orange cat, Tuna.

Today’s passage highlights the theme of uncertainty. It’s fascinating that the same individual who performed the incredible miracle of feeding 5,000 people is now unrecognizable to his closest acquaintances. This illustrates how quickly we can forget the remarkable deeds Jesus performs in our lives when fear takes hold. The Scriptures describe the disciples on a lake, battling waves and strong winds throughout the night. Their fear persists when they see Jesus walking on water, mistaking him for a ghost.

In moments when I’m paralyzed by fear, I too fail to recognize God’s saving grace. Sometimes I fail to recognize myself. What liberates us from this overwhelming fear? For me, it’s worship. Every Sunday, I’m reminded of God’s benevolence, Jesus’ affection, and the beauty of fellowship. I acknowledge Jesus’ presence when our church family sings together, celebrates baptisms, and hears the uplifting news of how a relationship with God can coexist with our fears.

Should you find yourself amidst life’s tempests or caught in the grip of fear, consider participating in a worship service. I invite you to discover whether the music, the fellowship, or the Scripture’s words resonate with you, serving as a testament to God’s enduring love and compassion in our lives. My hope is that you will encounter profound peace and renew your ability to recognize Jesus as he approaches your vessel.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (Kindle Locations 220067-220068). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.