Friday, December 26, 2014

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday December 28, 2014

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(Courageous worship gets us out of the boat)
(Matthew 14:22-36)

John’s Gospel records that on the evening following the miraculous feeding of the five thousand men, and their women and children, JESUS instructed HIS disciples to go down to the shore of the Sea of Galilee and wait there until HE disbursed the crowd. However, as darkness fell, and JESUS still had not come, they grew weary of waiting and decided to get into the boat and head on across the water to Capernaum without HIM (John 6:16-17).
However, here in Matthew’s Gospel account, he recalls that JESUS instructed them not to wait, but rather, to get into the boat and cross over to the other side of the lake, while HE dispersed the crowd. Matthew also tells us that after JESUS sent the people home, HE decided to, first, go up on the mountain to pray before joining HIS disciples, and there, HE lingered until nightfall. Both Gospel writers agree that ultimately they did embark upon their short seven-mile journey to the other side without JESUS being on board.
After the men had gone three or four miles, which is about half way across the lake, they were besieged by a storm and high winds. The Sea of Galilee was always noted for its sudden and severe storms, and so, caught in the open sea, the disciples found themselves straining with their oars trying to keep control of their boat.
Suddenly, about three o’clock in the morning, the frightened men see a shadowy figure coming towards them through the wind and the rain, walking upon the water. At first they thought it was a ghost, but when JESUS spoke, they recognized HIS voice. JESUS said to them “It is I, don’t be afraid”.
At this point the disciple, Peter, called to JESUS and said, “LORD, is it really YOU, tell me to come to YOU by walking on the water”. JESUS beckoned for him to come, and Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward JESUS. However, when his fear overcame him, and caused him to focus more on the effects of the storm around him, instead of keeping his focus on JESUS, he quickly began to sink.
As the frightened disciple sank into the sea, he shouted, “LORD save me!”, and instantly JESUS reached out HIS hand and grabbed him, and said, “You don’t have much faith, why did you doubt ME”? And when they both had gotten back into the boat, suddenly the storm ceased, and the men worshipped JESUS, because they were awed by HIS miraculous power over nature.
Over the generations since that day on the Sea of Galilee, many have criticized Peter because he wasn’t able to keep his focus on the LORD in the midst of his problems, and the state of his condition, which is something most of us can’t seem to do either. However, we all have to admire the apostle for his readiness to step out on the sea in the first place, which is something that none of the other disciples were willing to do that day. When we step out in faith, we always, in essence, risk failure. However, it is only by stepping out in faith, that we can ever truly experience personally, the power of CHRIST JESUS in our lives.   
This fifth sign of the MESSIAH serves to show us how JESUS, quite literally, comes to us from across the storms of life, with HIS hands stretched out to save, and HE speaks to us in a calm, clear voice, and HE bids us to “Have no fear”. “Be of good cheer” and “Be not afraid” is what JESUS often said to HIS disciples, however, it is also a statement that is directed to all mankind, from across the spans of time, whenever we choose to put our faith in HIS saving hand, even in this day and age.
We must trust JESUS, that, HE will save us from our troubles, and deliver us into the safety of HIS eternal peace. And we must never leave home without HIM, as the disciples did on that day, but rather, we must always carry HIM deeply within our hearts, whenever and wherever we go in life. And every time we experience the miracles of HIS presence, we must pause in awe to worship HIM and be thankful for HIS wonderful, saving power in the lives of those who have “saving faith”, and believe to a point of knowing.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

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