Matthew 13:53-58, Matthew 14:1-36, Deuteronomy 8:3, Isaiah 43:10-13
The power of Jesus is greater than any of us can imagine.
At the end of the movie The Matrix, there’s a scene where the protagonist Neo is in a hallway fighting Mr. Smith. As Mr. Smith sprays bullets toward him, Neo raises his hand, causing the bullets to stop mid-air and harmlessly drop to the floor. Remember that scene—when Neo realizes he is “The One”? After the bullets fall, Neo flexes his arms, and when he does, it’s as if the walls surrounding him and the rest of the world flex with him. It’s an exhilarating scene because it marks the moment when evil realizes it is no match for good.
In today’s reading, Jesus walks on water. This may be one of the most well-known details of Jesus’ life, but when we look at the text, we see that those who are close to Him do not respond with a cheer. They are afraid. Why? Because Jesus is flexing and the world is flexing with Him. His disciples are beginning to wonder if they have a tiger by the tail; if they let go, there’s no telling what may happen.
Perhaps one of the most accurate words we could use to describe Jesus during the Galilee phase of His earthly ministry, is “famous.” Though the time was coming when the world would turn on Him with a vengeance, in these early chapters of Matthew’s Gospel, everyone seems to want a piece of Him. When He opens His mouth to teach, great crowds gather. When word spreads that He is close to a town, the sick, lame, and blind are brought for healing. When He goes to the synagogue to teach, religious leaders square up for debate as though they are facing a worthy opponent.
But as we know well in our own culture, being famous is not the same as being known. Most people who admired Jesus in this stage of His earthly ministry admired Him for who they thought He was, not for who He truly was. We all do this to one degree or another. Even John the Baptist, who came out of the womb with a call to prepare the way for Jesus’ life of ministry, wondered if Jesus really was the Messiah (Matthew 11:1-19).
One reason I love the story of Jesus walking on the water is because of how it terrifies those who see Him. Surely if any of us saw Jesus flex like this, if we saw His full glory and power on display, we’d be terrified too. Why? Because the power of Jesus is greater than any of us can imagine.
The Apostle Paul says in Philippians 2 that every knee will bow before Jesus, and every tongue will confess that He is Lord (vv. 10-11). He has this sort of power and glory. But just as He invited Peter out onto the water, He invites us to draw near to Him in all His glory and power. We draw near by faith, knowing He will not use His power to crush us, but to save us. Still, it is good for us to remember that His power remains greater than we can imagine.
Written by Russ Ramsey