Matthew 14:22-33

Mary Irwin, wife
of former astronaut Jim Irwin, produced a book entitled Seeing the Invisible
Her words challenge people to live a life of faith with Christ, affirming the
possibility of a continual awareness of the Lord’s presence. 

The Lord is continually
present.  Sometimes we are to take a walk on the wild side in order to experience
the certainty of Christ’s abiding company.  When Jesus walked on the water,
His followers became aware of presence in a wild sort of way.  They saw the
invisible visible, which assured them of the Lord’s presence.  As a result of
what they saw and experienced, The Twelve began to recognize who Jesus really
was and step forward to assume their function as leaders in the Jesus Movement
– a wild movement at best.

Taking a walk
on the wild-water side reveals a few lessons about the Lord’s incessant presence.  

His Presence
Moves Believers to Begin the Wild Journey
(v. 22)

After feeding
that horde of people, Jesus made His disciples get into a boat to make a journey
to the other side.  He chose not to go with them.  The text says He needed time
alone to think and pray.  While the text doesn’t say this, I am inclined to
believe that part of Jesus’ praying was for those guys He had just told to begin
a journey.

It takes much courage
to follow Jesus’ instructions.  To get into the boat of life and begin a journey,
a wild journey into the unknown, is no small thing.  It can be monumental, even
frightening.  Yet, the journey across the sea of life may begin with the assurance
of the Lord’s presence.

When I first entered
seminary, I felt all alone that first week of orientation, even though I had
met new people and reacquainted myself with people I already knew.  Late on
Thursday evening, I was walking around in an area called “The Josephus Bowl.” 
Suddenly I had an overwhelming sense of God’s presence.  I had not felt anything
like that previously.  Like Mary Irwin’s book title, “I saw the invisible.” 
I was assured, again, of the Lord’s presence as I began another journey across
another sea.

His Presence
Sustains Believers During the Wild Journey
(vv. 25-27)

Some of the most
assuring words one can hear are the words of Jesus, especially these:  “Take
heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”  The disciples needed to hear those
words.  The sea was really getting wild as they were making their journey. 

I crossed the
Sea of Galilee, late one afternoon nearly 25 years ago.  As I sat in the front
of the boat, I felt the thrust of the wind, listened to the roar of the lake,
and watched the waves splashing wildly over the bow.  I must confess a bit of
fear gripped me.  I envisioned my ancestors who were on the same lake centuries
earlier, being assaulted by the waves, a few miles from the shore.  I could
understand, in a limited way, why they were afraid. 

It is in those
kinds of times, when the winds of life are causing the sea, on which we journey,
to be turbulent and dangerous, that the Lord takes a walk on the wild-water
side.  He comes to calm our greatest fears with a pledge of his unshakable presence. 
When Jesus said, “It is I,” He literally was saying, “I
am.”  I am here.  I am with you on these wild waters, to walk with you
and talk with you.

Knowing Jesus
was there to sustain resulted in Peter having the courage to ask Jesus to command
him to come to Him on the water.  Without hesitation Jesus said, “Come”(v.
29).  While Peter did take his eye off Jesus and focused on the wind,
resulting in him beginning to sink, he did have enough faith to get out of the
boat and take a walk on the wild-water side toward Jesus.  Jesus did not chide
him for having no faith, but little faith.  Peter did have faith.    

Walking on the
wild side of discipleship calls us to move beyond little faith to lots of faith. 
Jesus’ presence, which sustains us, enables that.  In the midst of danger, focus
on Jesus and overcome fear that is often created when the journey gets rough.

His Presence Persuades
Believers to Worship During the Wild Journey
(v. 33)

Taking a walk
on the wild-water side with Jesus leads to a genuine worship of Him.  Someone
said long ago, “Watch over me, O Lord.  For your sea is great, and my ship is
small.”  The Lord watched over them and He watches over us.  We therefore worship
him.  Dare I say with wildness?


Sermon brief provided by: Jimmy Gentry, Pastor of
Tabernacle Baptist Church in Carrollton, GA

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