tradition of the early church. It was integrally linked to the feeding of the 5,000,
and when finally the oral tradition was documented, all four gospels
interestingly recorded the two stories together.
Jesus is still trying to find some peace and stillness after the beheading of
John the Baptist his cousin. Life as today was full of business and a lack of
peace and stillness.
Literary evidence exists showing that in first century middle eastern world
people were quite interested in the ability of the gods/God to exercise control
over nature and its elements. The miracle, at this level, gives divine
authentication . The account also reveals Christ's mastery over the sea, not
just water, but the sea seen as chaos. For the Jews the sea was a dark and
forboding place, not just because of its many dangers, but because it was the
dwelling place of dark powers, of Leviathan. The stilling of the sea is therefore
not only Christological about the Christ in orientation, but also eschatological,
about the endtimes; Jesus is even now stilling the deep. Matthew's addition of
the Peter incident focuses attention on Jesus' saving power.
The gospel tradition was shaped by oral transmission such that the stories
developed their own particular shape in different geographical regions and
churches. When it came time to write these stores down (prompted by the
increasing age and death of the apostles) the gospel writers selected, shaped
and edited the stories and gave them their own characteristics.
Although there are differences between Matthew and Mark's accounts of
Jesus' walking on water, the theological perspective is much the same. Both
reveal divine authentication, Gods work, both image Jesus' struggle and
victory over the powers of darkness, and both reveal the fulfilment of Israel's
messianic hope in Jesus the prophet like Moses - when even the wind and the
waves obey him.
Ultimately the story is about having faith when the going gets tough. Fix on
something beyond the immediate and you will ride the storm and be at peace.
Wise words for today when we have to walk on choppy seas and we get
frightened and start sinking!
Do you know what its like to be lifted up when the waters of life threaten to
overwhelm you. Do you know grace of hands that reach out to carry and
console and give courage when you are sinking. This is some of what we
know about faith:
Faith is not something we can conjure up by sheer will force.
It lives and breathes in our Christian community that surrounds us.
We cannot force faith but can ask for it, can pray that it will make its way to us.
and helps us up over the next wave.
That it comes.
That we can lean into it.
That it will propel us not only toward the Christ who calls me, but also back
toward the boat that holds our life, with its pain and its gifts of love.
What is your experience of faith right now? How is it carrying you?
Faith is not inherent in us but something that happens, like wind to a sail.
It comes as we open ourselves to it, unfurling ourselves to be moved by it, to
be propelled, to leave the familiar places we have known and to let go of our
accustomed ways of moving through the world.
Peter comes inviting us to wonder if there’s a leap—even a little one—that
Christ might be calling us to make. He reminds us that faith isn’t something
that we have to find on our own; but Christ activates it in us as we open
ourselves to the voice that calls to us across the waves, and step out toward
How about you? Amid all that tugs at you or tosses you about, is there a
deeper invitation, a more compelling call, a leap that would draw you closer to
the Christ who is making his way toward you?
We cannot promise that we will be kept afloat as if by lashing these words
to our arms, our ankles, we could stop yourself from going under.
But God will stand beside us in the boat.
And if we find ourself flailing, God will breathe into us , until we are held by
the hands that reach towards us, the voice that calls our name.