The Signs of Jesus (VII)
It is God who holds onto us
Matthew 14:22-33

Have you ever seen a Basilisk Lizard? They are very common in the tropical rainforests of South America. These lizards actually have an interesting nickname:

They are called the Jesus Christ Lizard. Here is why… Amazingly, these lizards can walk – or rather, run on water. What an amazing and unique animal! They are called the Jesus Christ Lizard because, as we have just read, Jesus Himself walked on water.

Now, I am not going to even think about HOW Jesus did that – it was obviously a miracle. But in his gospel, John describes Jesus’ miracles as being SIGNS. The miracles therefore had a deeper purpose beyond the actual miracles themselves. So, what we need to do is look to see what these signs are actually pointing to.

Jesus’ disciples were at Lake Capernaum. They got into a boat, and started to row to the other side. It grew dark, the wind grew stronger, and the waves grew bigger. The disciples suddenly and unexpectedly found themselves in the middle of a storm.

Then, even more unexpectedly, they saw Jesus coming towards them. He was walking on the water! However, just as when Jesus miraculously fed the great crowd, in fact, just as with every miracle, the writer simply tells what Jesus did as though it was a common, everyday experience. There is no nuance or emphasis that what Jesus did was amazing. To the mere human, what Jesus does is beyond our expectation, ability, and comprehension. It is miraculous! But to the Creator of nature, it is, of course, completely natural!

Nevertheless, when the disciples saw the form of Jesus walking on the water in the middle of that storm, they were filled with fear.

When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It’s a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them:

"Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid." (Matthew 14:26-27)

Jesus spoke words of comfort and relief right into the midst of their fear. "Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid." Why did Jesus tell his disciples not to be afraid? What reason did he give for them to take courage?

It was because of himself. It was because it was he, Jesus, who was there with them. The disciples had found themselves in a storm, but Jesus was right there with them. At first they didn’t recognize him. In fact, at first, it seemed that Jesus was the actual cause of their fear. But Jesus called out to relieve that fear. He told them that they were alright because he, Jesus, was there with them.

This is the message of the Bible for all of us. Our holy Creator, from whom we have been separated by sin, comes to us in the midst of our weakness and trouble. He calls out to our hearts: "Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid."

Now, Jesus’ disciples were in the process of learning to believe in him. So I want to look at a couple of points from today’s passage about this belief. It is what we call faith.

First, apart from Peter, there were eleven other disciples in the boat. Why did Jesus call Peter to himself? It was because Peter asked Jesus to. Faith turns our attention from our own selves and our own situations, and focuses on God. Peter asked, and Jesus answered!

Next, faith seeks to be with God. Peter asked Jesus: “Lord, if it is you…” Peter wasn’t asking Jesus for special power to do miracles himself. He wasn’t trying to impress the other disciples. All he was doing was asking to be with Jesus. Faith draws us to God’s side.

Also, faith waits on the Lord. Peter didn’t just jump into the water. He didn’t make a decision by himself and expect Jesus to cover for him. He asked Jesus with the expectation of getting a response. But he didn’t just go ahead by himself. He submitted himself to the Lord’s will.

Next, faith trusts and obeys. Peter had certainly never walked on water before this. And even though it was Peter who had asked Jesus to call him over, if he had stopped to think about his situation, Peter would surely never have stepped out of the boat. But Peter’s faith told him that Jesus would enable him to do what ever Jesus asked of him.

Faith is also passionate. Peter trusted Jesus completely, and that faith gave Peter the courage and the eagerness to get closer to Jesus, to know him more, to trust and obey him more.

Finally, Jesus himself is the goal of faith. When Peter got out of the boat, he walked straight to Jesus. He did not show off in front of the other disciples. Stepping out of the boat and onto the water didn’t give Peter the sense that he had the right to suddenly do whatever he wanted. The whole purpose of Peter’s faith in Jesus was to personally become closer to Jesus – to actually be with him. Jesus is the goal of faith.

So, that is what we can learn about faith from this story. But what happened to Peter? Was Peter’s faith enough to help him? Was his faith in Jesus strong enough to save himself? As we look at this, I want to tell you a true story.

Steve was a pastor and lecturer where I went to Bible college. He had a daughter whose nickname was Rainbow. Rainbow believed in the Creator God. She understood the problem of sin, and she believed that Jesus had completely paid the penalty for her sin through his death on the cross.

But unfortunately, she had made some seriously bad decisions in her life. As a young adult, she became involved in drugs. The drugs influenced her. They controlled her. They altered her mind and changed her body. Even though she wanted to quit drugs, she was not able to, and one day, so sadly, she was found dead in a public toilet after an overdose.

Her father told this story at her funeral: One day, when she was about 1 ½ years old, their family was walking in the mountains. The path was a bit rough, and Rainbow kept tripping and falling over. Time after time, her father held out his hand to hold hers, but she insisted that she could walk by herself. But after a couple of steps, she would fall down again.

After this process had continued a number of times, she finally asked her father to hold out his hand for her. “At last” her father thought. “She finally understands!” However, when he tried to hold her hand, she refused, and insisted that she hold onto his little finger. So, they kept walking, but of course, as soon as she tripped, she immediately let go of his finger and fell to the ground again. She wasn’t strong enough to hold on. But she still insisted that she was alright, and refused to let her father hold her hand.

Finally, though, tired and sore, she gave up, and asked her father to hold her hand. And as they walked, because the path was rough, she tripped again. But this time, it was her father who was holding onto her. He was much, much bigger and stronger than her, and though she stumbled, he didn’t let go. Although she lost her balance, he kept her on her feet, and enabled her to keep walking.

Steve continued to explain to us that this is our situation, even regarding God. We try to live our lives the way we want to. We rely on our own wisdom to make decisions, and we try to walk using our own strength.

But as soon as there is a problem, we fall down. As soon as we stumble, we lose our balance. We get hurt, or hurt other people around us. Then we reach out to the people and things around us for support.

But these things are never able to give us more than a very brief respite – maybe only as much as a distraction to stop us seeing the ground rushing up to meet us!

But what if it is God that we are relying on? What if it is God that we are trying to hold onto for support? If we are trying to hold onto God, will that be enough for us?

Well, the answer is no!

Are you surprised?

That’s probably not the answer you were expecting in a message from the Bible! But this is how Steve explained it to us at his own daughter’s funeral:

Just as little Rainbow wasn’t strong enough to hold onto her father’s finger, we also are not strong enough to hold onto God by our own strength. However, the Bible teaches us that it is God who holds onto us! And even though Rainbow was not strong enough to hold onto God, Steve shared his biblical faith that, even in that tragic toilet block, Jesus was right there holding onto his broken daughter to comfort her and receive her into his kingdom. No, she was not strong enough, but Jesus is!

Returning to today’s story, Peter also became distracted. He meant well. He had put his trust in Jesus, and was sincerely seeking to walk in that faith to be with his Lord. That was the right thing for him to do. However, even Peter wasn’t strong enough. As soon as he focused on his own situation, as soon as his eyes saw what was around him, his mind imagined the dangers, his heart felt his own weakness, his position looked impossible, and so he immediately began to sink.

As we remember, John has called these miracles that he wrote about “signs.” As signs, they are designed to tell us who Jesus is, and at the same time, to inform us about who we are!

Remember that Jesus fed that great crowd of people to show that, on the one hand, they didn’t have what was necessary to help themselves, but on the other hand, Jesus does, and Jesus wants to use what he has to help.

And now again, Jesus is not teaching some mystical religious power about how we can actually walk on water. What we learn from here is that Peter, in spite of his good intentions, was not able to reach Jesus by himself. His faith was strong in principle, but in practice, it was weak.

But where Peter was weak, Jesus is strong. The reason that Peter did not sink completely, the reason that he was able to keep his head above water, was not because he was holding onto Jesus, but because Jesus was holding onto him.

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God." (Matthew 14:32-33)

In the same way, we are not strong enough to hold onto God. But it is God who holds onto us. No matter what happens, He continues to hold onto us! Faith is for us to trust Jesus, and to keep remembering that it is he who holds onto us.

Are you trying to walk by yourself? Peter called out to Jesus: “Lord, let me come to you on the water.” In the same way, whether we are in a time of peace, or storms rage around us, Jesus comes to where we are and invites us to know him. He invites us to trust him. Jesus invites us to come to him. And because he is faithful, because he is strong, he will never let go of us.

Lord, let us come to you!










イエス様は恐怖心にかられた弟子たちに慰めと救いの言葉をかけられました。「しっかりしなさい。私です。恐れることはありません。」と。 なぜイエス様は弟子たちに恐れるなといわれたのでしょうか?何を根拠に彼は弟子たちに勇気を持ちなさいと言われたのでしょうか?














何度も何度もそれが繰り返されたのち彼女はとうとうお父さんの手を彼女の方に差し出すように頼みました。「ようやく」と父は思いました。 「やっと彼女はわかったんだ」と。しかし父親が彼女の手を掴もうとすると彼女はそれを拒み彼女がお父さんの小指につかまると言い張ったのです。そして彼らは歩き続けました。でも彼女が躓くと彼女の手はお父さんの小指から離れてまた倒れたのでした。彼女はお父さんから離れないようにしっかり掴まることができなかったのです。それでも彼女は自分は大丈夫だと言い張りお父さんが彼女の手を掴むことを拒んだのです。