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Master of the waters (even without a boat)

July 19, 2023

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 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 joined the Resurrection staff in 2021 and serves in donor relations. She’s a Boston native and moved to Kansas City in 2020 when her husband Blake accepted a call at Resurrection West to lead their student ministries! Her favorite pasttimes include pottery, hiking, frisbee, trying new restaurants, and spending time with Blake and their large orange cat, Tuna.

Today’s highlighted verse feels centered around uncertainty. I find it so interesting that the same person who performed one of the greatest miracles of feeding 5,000 just the evening before is now unrecognizable to those who know him best. For me, it reveals how easy it is to forget the unbelievable work Jesus does in my life in the midst of fear. In the Scripture, we learn that the disciples were on the lake overnight while being hit with waves and strong winds. They remain in this fear when they see Jesus walking on water, thinking he’s a ghost. Stuck in fear.

When I find myself stuck in fear, I also don’t recognize God’s saving grace. Often, when I am stuck in fear, I don’t recognize myself. What gets us out of this crippling fear? For me, it tends to be worship. Each Sunday I am reminded of God’s goodness, Jesus’ love, and the beauty of community. I recognize the Jesus standing in front of me when, as a church family, we sing and watch the celebration of baptisms and hear the really good news of how relationship with God can come alongside our fears.

The next time you experience a storm in your life or feel stuck in fear, consider attending a worship service. I encourage you to see if the music, the community, or the words of Scripture can impact you as part of a reminder of God’s love and mercy working in our life. My prayer is that you find a deep sense of peace, knowing and recognizing Jesus as the one walking toward your boat.

© 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.