Living in the Waves

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One of the most well-known stories in the New Testament must be when Jesus invites Peter to walk on water in Matthew 14:22-33. Peter is often held up as either an example of bold faith in stepping out of the boat or faltering faith in sinking into the waves.

However, there is another part of the story that captures my attention and it has to do with the waves. When this memorable episode from the life of Jesus and the life of Peter takes place, it is surrounded by waves of challenge.

The first type of waves is the waves of people. Immediately before this, Jesus miraculously feeds a crowd of more than five thousand people. This crowd was pressing in around Jesus. Jesus dismissed them, but, even after the walking on water episode, they hunted Him down and asked for more. It is likely, from what we read in parallel accounts, that the crowds actually hoped to make Jesus king. The waves of people surrounded Him.

Along with the waves of people came the waves of emotions. After an exciting yet stressful ministry day with people, the disciples were exhausted. They seem not only exhausted by the work they were doing with Jesus, but also by the fact that Jesus Himself was difficult to understand. This led to a sort of emotional exhaustion and anticipation that always kept the disciples on their toes. They needed to get away.  It seems that Jesus also needed to get away. The pressures on Him to live into a human-defined image of Messiah-ship, yet pushing against that in obedience to the Father, lead Him to want to draw away with the Father again.

Of course, along with these waves of human pressure and emotional pressure come a third type: the waves of natural life. The literal winds and waves that beat against the boat threaten everyone in this situation. The natural order was not on their side and could not be easily controlled. This heightened physical circumstance augments the other more subtle waves around Jesus and His disciples.

Attention to the waves in this situation tells me one important thing to keep in focus. The waves – the challenges we face – are a normal part of life.

I want to draw this out because so many of us are waiting for “someday.” We all do this at times. We have that tendency to wait for a day when we believe that everything will become calm or everything will be at perfect peaceful. If not that, many of us are simply looking for the day when everything feels “normal,” even if we have never defined what that is.

When that normal day comes, many of us say, we will then be ready to follow Christ or take some dramatic step of faith. Until then, we are on hold in fear or confusion.

However, the very setting in which Peter makes his bold step of faith is in the waves. This is important to pay attention to because the Lord is reminding us through the context of this story that waves are normal.

The challenges of people and relationships that Jesus and the apostles faced are similar to the waves with people that we face.  The challenges of emotions and pressures that Jesus and the apostles faced are similar to the emotional waves that we face. The challenges of the natural things that happen – natural life changes, natural aging, natural circumstances of the environment – are similar to the natural waves that we face.

And this is what strikes me today: these waves are the normal setting in which faith rises up. Because of this, we don’t need to wait for someday.  Someday will not come because it does not exist. The waves in which we find ourselves are the setting in which we must take a step of faith.

Walking on Water

This past weekend at Eastbrook, Pastor Femi Ibitoye continued our preaching series, “Who Do You Say I Am?”, by looking at the eye-popping story of Jesus walking on water in Matthew 14:22-36.

This message is part of the sixth part of our longer series on Matthew, which includes “Family Tree,” “Power in Preparation,” “Becoming Real,” “The Messiah’s Mission,” and “Stories of the Kingdom.”

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:33)

We cannot know God unless he reveals himself to us.

WHO IS JESUS IN THIS PASSAGE?

  • Jesus is the Son of Man.  (Matthew 14:23) He is a human being like us.  He depended completely on God.  Because he is human, he understand and sympathizes with our weakness.  He is the New Moses,  the great high priest. (Philippians 2:5-8, Hebrews 4:15)
  • Jesus is Lord.  (Matthew 14:25) Jesus is Lord over the seas and waves. He walks on water.  He is Lord over nature.  (Psalm 24:1; Psalm 29:2-3, Philippians 2:9-11). 
  • Jesus is the great “I AM (Matthew 14:27). Jesus’ self-revelation shows the source of his power.  Jesus is not a ghost, He is alive. (Job 9:8, Psalm 89:9, Revelation 1:17b-18)
  • Jesus is our Creator.  (Matthew 14:28-29). Jesus is so powerful that he can make ordinary men walk on water (Colossians 1:15-17).  He sustains us by his mighty hand. Defies gravity, science, logic and common sense.
  • Jesus is our Savior.  (Matthew 14:30). Jesus saves Peter from sinking.  He saves us too from sin and death.  Jesus’ name means, “Yahweh saves”.  
  • Jesus is the Son of God.  (Matthew 14:33).  Jesus is God.  Only God is to be worshipped. Jesus is worthy of our worship and praise.  (Psalm 96:9, Revelation 5:13-14)
  • Jesus is our Healer. (Matthew 14:34-36). All healing is because of Jesus.  Medical healing, physical healing, emotional healing, relational healing, spiritual healing are all because of Jesus.  (Psalm 30:2, Isaiah 53:5, Jeremiah 17:4)

Making it real

  • Worship Jesus
  • Have faith in Jesus
  • Prayer of Thanksgiving to Jesus

Dig Deeper:

This week dig deeper in one or more of the following ways:

  • Draw, paint, or ink this story of Jesus walking on water as a way of reflecting on what is happening and what you are learning about who Jesus.
  • Say a prayer of Thanksgiving today and throughout this week focusing on one or more of the titles of Jesus found in today’s text.  Praise him for “who He is.”

Eastbrook at Home – October 3, 2021

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Join us for worship with Eastbrook Church through Eastbrook at Home at 8, 9:30, and 11 AM.

We continue our series, “Who Do You Say I Am?,” as Pastor Femi Ibitoye preaches about Jesus walking on water in Matthew 14:22-36. This is also a communion Sunday at Eastbrook.

This series continues our extended journey through the Gospel of Matthew, which includes our previous series “Family Tree,” “Power in Preparation,” “Becoming Real,” “The Messiah’s Mission,” and “Stories of the Kingdom: parables of Jesus.”

We also continue in-person services at 8:00, 9:30, and 11:00 AM this weekend at the Eastbrook Campus, and you no longer need to RSVP ahead of time.

If you are new to Eastbrook, we want to welcome you to worship and would ask you to text EBCnew to 94000 as a first step into community here at Eastbrook.

Each Sunday at 8, 9:30, and 11 AM, you can participate with our weekly worship service at home with your small group, family, or friends. This service will then be available during the week until the next Sunday’s service starts. You can also access the service directly via Vimeo, the Eastbrook app, or Facebook.

If you are not signed up for our church emailing list, please sign up here. Also, please remember that during this time financial support for the church is critical as we continue minister within our congregation and reach out to our neighborhood, city, and the world at this challenging time. Please give online or send in your tithes and offerings to support the ministry of Eastbrook Church.

The Compassion of Jesus

Harvard Medical School lists a number of ways people deal with stress, highlighting the tendency we all have to deal with stress in unhealthy ways, such as:

  • Watching endless hours of TV
  • Withdrawing from friends or partners or, conversely jumping into a frenzied social life to avoid facing problems
  • Overeating or undereating
  • Sleeping too much
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Lashing out at others in emotionally or physically violent outbursts
  • Taking up smoking or smoking more than usual
  • Taking prescription, over-the-counter or even illegal drugs[1]

Now, I don’t know what you do when things are busy and stressful, but Jesus’ response is markedly different.  Look at what we read in Matthew 14:14:

“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (Matthew 14:14)

I love that phrase: “He had compassion on them…” (NIV). 

The Greek word for “compassion” here, σπλαγχνίζομαι (splanchnizomai), is a difficult word to translate because no one word entirely captures its range of meaning. It is a cognate of the word for “spleen” and has the idea of deep emotions coming from the deep places of one’s person, like the bowels or intestines. It conveys being deeply moved, pity, sympathy, compassion, and warmth toward others.[2]

Again and again, Jesus is moved with compassion by the situation of the crowd and those in need (Matthew 9:24; 14:14; 15:32; 20:34). This is Jesus’ typical response to humanity in need: compassion. Or, as one commentator, R. T. France, renders it: “His heart went out to them…”[3]

And this is, in my opinion, how you know that Jesus is the Messiah sent from God and not just some ordinary person. Worn out by grief, needs, and pressures, Jesus doesn’t check out with a cold beer and his buddies to watch Ted Lasso or the Packers game. He steps forward, open-hearted and full of compassion to those in need.

Praise God for the heart of Jesus the Messiah! 

Praise God for this revelation of the heart of God in Jesus of Nazareth. Praise God that we get this glimpse into what leads Jesus ultimately to the Cross. Why doesn’t Jesus pull back? 

Because His heart leads Him to act how God always acts toward humanity: to continually move forward into human need for healing and salvation. 


[1] “Watch out for unhealthy responses to stress,” Harvard Health Publishing, August 2, 2012, https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/watch-out-for-unhealthy-responses-to-stress.

[2] Moises Silva, ed., “σπλαγχνον,” in New International Dictionary of New Testament Exegesis and Theology, 2nd ed., Volume 4 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014), 353.

[3] R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, NICNT (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007), 373.

The New Moses

This past weekend at Eastbrook, I continued our preaching series, “Who Do You Say I Am?”, by looking at the well-known story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in Matthew 14:13-23. What does this episode tell us about who Jesus is and how can we learn to live in response to Him based on the miraculous events we encounter here? There is just so much in this passage I wish I had been able to preach 3 or 4 messages just from this text.

This message is part of the sixth part of our longer series on Matthew, which includes “Family Tree,” “Power in Preparation,” “Becoming Real,” “The Messiah’s Mission,” and “Stories of the Kingdom.”

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (Matthew 14:13)

Jesus’ Unsuccessful Withdrawal (Matthew 14:13)

Withdrawing from Herod Antipas and the crowds

Jesus pursued by the crowds into the wilderness

Jesus’ Heart (Matthew 14:13-14)

“He had compassion on them…” (NIV)

“His heart went out to them…”

Jesus Feeds a Great Crowd (Matthew 14:15-21)

Recognizing the needs of the crowd and limited provision

The gathering of the crowd

The miraculous provision for the crowd 

Jesus’ action: take – bless – break – give 

Jesus Finally Withdraws (Matthew 14:22-23)

The disciples are sent away

Jesus goes up to the mountain

Jesus the New Moses (Matthew 14:15-23)

Out in the wilderness

A huge crowd of people who are in need

Providing miraculous food

Jesus meets with God on the mountain

Making it Real

Encounter Jesus’ heart

Encounter Jesus’ provisionBe a disciple in Jesus’ hand


Dig Deeper:

This week dig deeper in one or more of the following ways:

• Memorize Matthew 14:19
• Journal, draw, paint, or ink this story or some aspect of it as a way of reflecting on who Jesus is and how you most need to meet with Him.
• Take some time to draw away with God for a few hours or a day. Use this episode in Matthew 14 as a basis for your day alone with God. Take time in prayer and reading Scripture. Be still and rest in God. Perhaps you could use the suggestions from the Potter’s Inn as a guide here.
• Consider reading Henri Nouwen’s book Life of the Beloved, which reflects on the fourfold action of Jesus in this story (taken – blessed – broken – given) as a metaphor for the spiritual life.