“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:28-30)
When this brief episode out of the life of Jesus and the life of Peter takes place, it is surrounded by waves of challenge.
There are the waves of people (Matthew 14:20-22), who are pressing in around Jesus and those who wanted to make Him king. There are the waves of emotions (14:22-23) brought about by various pressures. The disciples felt the pressure of an extensive day of ministry, all while not fully understanding Jesus and His ministry. There are the pressures on Jesus to become king and to follow a human pathway to Messiah-ship. This is so strong that Jesus draws away with the Father in prayer. There are the real, natural waves of the natural world (14:24) embodied by the physical wind and waves that beat the boat, creating a threatening the situation.
In the midst of all these waves, it is vitally important to keep one thing in focus: the waves – the challenges we face – are a normal part of life.
So many of us are waiting for a magical “someday” when there will be no waves. We all can do this. We all have the tendency to wait for a day when everything is calm, everything is peaceful, or at least when everything feels “normal,” whatever that means. When that normal day comes, many of us say, we will do what is necessary to follow Christ or take a step of faith.
However, the very setting of the story tells us that waves are normal. The various challenges that Jesus and the disciples faced—of people and relationships, of emotions and pressures, of the natural things that happen in the physical order—these waves are the normal setting in which real faith rises up.
So, too, in our lives we need to recognize the normal waves of our life as the place where true faith is birthed and nurtured. We should not wait for some magical “someday” where suddenly all will be suddenly peaceful to grow in our faith. Someday will not come because it does not exist. We need to allow the waves to be the setting in which we take our steps of faith.
One thought on “How Do We Face the Waves that Surround Us? [Peter and Faith, part 1]”
This came up in my feed the other day. I thought you may like it. I hope you can see the lic and that I didn’t send twice. I was distracted.
I enjoy your daily pists and look forward to them including Sat. Blessings.
Here’s your Gospel Reading for today, from Christian Art.
Matthew 14:22-33 Jesus walks on the water
Jesus and Peter on the Water,
Painted by Gustave Brion (1824-1877),
Oil on canvas
© C19 Gallery, Beverly Hills
Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he would send the crowds away. After sending the crowds away he went up into the hills by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, while the boat, by now far out on the lake, was battling with a heavy sea, for there was a head-wind. In the fourth watch of the night he went towards them, walking on the lake, and when the disciples saw him walking on the lake they were terrified. ‘It is a ghost’ they said, and cried out in fear. But at once Jesus called out to them, saying, ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’ It was Peter who answered. ‘Lord,’ he said ‘if it is you, tell me to come to you across the water.’ ‘Come’ said Jesus. Then Peter got out of the boat and started walking towards Jesus across the water, but as soon as he felt the force of the wind, he took fright and began to sink. ‘Lord! Save me!’ he cried. Jesus put out his hand at once and held him. ‘Man of little faith,’ he said ‘why did you doubt?’ And as they got into the boat the wind dropped. The men in the boat bowed down before him and said, ‘Truly, you are the Son of God.’
Reflection on the Painting
Thoré-Burger’s Salon review of 1863 said about this painting:
”In the midst of immensity, the small figure of Christ in white drapery, grazing the waves like a seagull, supports the good saint Peter, who struggles to stay afloat. It is simple, grand and masterful. Here is a biblical painting.”
True, this is a very biblical painting indeed. Christian art isn’t necessarily biblical. But when we do come across these very strong biblical paintings, it always does have a special impact on us as believers. We could say that all art contains a message. Not just Christian art. For example, even with abstract paintings, the artist wants to trigger a response from the viewer. It could be awe at the beauty of the work, or amazement or revulsion or just simple puzzlement. But artists want people to ‘feel’ something. Artists communicate. Biblical paintings, such as today’s work, go beyond the simple ‘generating of feelings’ towards the work. This work wants to communicate a message; it wants to make a very clear point, relating directly to Scripture. Our painter, Gustave Brion, placed the figures of Jesus and Peter in the vast expanse of horizons of the stormy sea. The sky has seen stormy weather but now horizontal bands of sunlight are pouring in. Christ has truly calmed the waters indeed. The boat carrying the Apostles can be seen in the distance. The mast is in the shape of a cross.
We commented on this Gospel passage five days ago (see https://www.christian.art/daily-gospel-reading/502) and our painting makes an interesting comparison with the one we discussed before. Therein lies the beauty of art and what we look at together every day in these reflections, how unique each artist is in rendering his or her unique version of the true uniqueness of the Christian Gospel message.
by Patrick van der Vorst 8c103ae7-d582-4d59-ac65-22ede4d44b19.jpeg
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