“The Wind, the Water and the Waves”

The Tenth Sunday after Pentecost (A)
“The Wind, the Water and the Waves”
August 13, 2017

Sermon Text:  Matthew 14:22-33

Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Dearly Beloved of the Lord,

Today’s Gospel text comes on the chronological heels of last week’s. Our Lord had just fed five thousand men, not counting women and children, and we read that He “immediately” (A word St. Matthew used quite often) makes the disciples get into a boat and go… head out… set sail.

It was almost as if He had plans, arrangements… that what soon would take place was all worked out… now set into motion. Well, you and I know there is no “if” about it.

Our dear Savior sends the Twelve off while He dismisses the crowds… those whom He had miraculously healed and fed… and He makes His way up a mountain, all by Himself, to pray.

That is what He originally was going to do, to have some time alone after learning of John the Baptist’s death… John’s martyrdom… for standing steadfast in the faith… for standing up to Herod and speaking the truth, come what may… for not fearing, but trusting.

Meanwhile, on the boat, now a good distance out… the disciples find themselves battling the wind, the water and the waves. They were in the midst of a storm, the whole lot of them… “in the same boat” if you will and by all worldly appearances, things didn’t look good.

Hmm. How many times have you and I said, “Things do not look good” in regard to something in our life or the lives of others?

There they are. It’s late. It’s dark. And just like it was with those five thousand plus people a little bit earlier… they were in “a desolate place” seemingly on their own… alone… when, lo and behold, who comes to them walking on the water… walking as if doing so on dry ground, solid ground?

If the wind, the water and the waves were not enough to terrify them, seeing their Lord and Master there on the water certainly did the job as our text bears out.

They thought Jesus was a ghost… a  φάντασμα (phantasma) in the original Greek from which we get the word “phantom”  … a spirit, apparition, figment of one’s imagination.

But there Jesus was… the very Son of God… the Alpha and the Omega… as well as being the Son of Man, very much in the flesh. Very much in control.

He was no one’s figment of imagination! He was real… is real! And from His lips come the comforting words, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27)

Only He could counter the disciples fear. Only He could counter the wind, the water and the waves. And He did.

In the same way, dearly beloved of the Lord, only Jesus can counter our fear, our fretting, our worries and concerns. Only He can counter what we are up against, that which is bouncing us around to and fro, that which is jostling us, harassing us like a tiny boat in a desolate place up against the wind, the water and the waves.

He is right there with us… HERE with us… as He was for the Twelve. And likewise, He is no φάντασμα (phantasma)… no apparition or figment of our imagination. He is very much real… as is His presence here with us, now and always… as He is in His Word and the blessed Sacrament of the Altar… through which we hear Him say to us personally, directly… again and again… “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

He has us. He has you. He has me. He has all His precious children. And He holds us up even when we, like Peter, sink needlessly in despair, worry and concern. With His mighty arm He rescues us from the wind, the water and the waves. He sees us through each and every storm in our lives.

And this… all this, my friends, are not just some flowery words and nice thoughts. Just ask Peter and the others aboard that boat.

Just ask the Apostles and the early Christians… actually all Christians down through the centuries right up to this very day, including many of our dear brothers and sisters around the world who are undergoing persecution all for the sake of Christ their Savior and their faith in Him.

They and all believers know that even though the wind, the water and the waves of this present age are crashing down all around… they… WE… and all who will come after us… are safe and sound in the boat… in the “ark” that is the Holy Christian Church. That which we are part of and belong to spiritually. That which we are literally standing in, worshipping in physically. It is no wonder that this is God’s sanctuary, made without human hands… and that we remain in it. In Him wherever we may be… wherever His Word is found… wherever people call upon His name.

There is no escaping the storms of this life, but there is weathering them all… being safe and secure, at peace and content through them all. And this in Jesus, our dear Savior, who again and again reminds us, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

Thanks be to God and to Him alone the glory. Amen.

 May the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.

“The Wind, the Water and the Waves”  8/13/17  The Rev. Mark H. Hein, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Lockport, IL