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Jesus Walks on the Water May 6, 2018

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 14:22-36.

Summary: In this passage, Jesus displays His sovereign authority by thwarting the attempt of the crowd that He has just fed to enthrone Him. He also commands His disciples to leave Him and cross the Sea of Galilee, where they are caught in a violent storm.

He then appears between 3 and 6 a.m., walking on the water. This miracle throws them into a state of panic. Peter seeks His protection from the violent storm and begins to walk to Him – yet he, overcome by fear, begins to sink. Jesus rescues him; the disciples worship Him as one with God.

He and the disciples finally arrive in the land of Gennesaret. All who are ill in the countryside come to Him. Upon touching Him, they are instantly made totally well.

Thoughts: Here, we see that Peter began to sink when he was overcome by fear. Ryle offers some thoughts on this point:

What a lively picture we have here of the experience of many believers! How many there are who have enough faith to take the first step in following Christ, but not enough faith to go on as they began. They take fright at the trials and dangers which seem to be in their way. They look at the enemies that surround them, and the difficulties that seem likely to beset their path…

My experiences indicate that Christians occasionally derive amusement from Peter’s tendency to speak and act rashly. One thought is that as Christians, we should be more humble when we encounter his words and deeds in our studies of the Gospels. Indeed, we often declare our willingness to follow Christ when we sing praise songs – but are we willing to act on this declaration when confronted by trials and temptations? Can our deeds match our words when we are plagued with doubt? Instead of elevating ourselves above Peter, we should continue to ask God for His grace so that we can make progress in our walk with Him.

We also see that Jesus miraculously walks on the surface of the Sea of Galilee in the midst of a violent storm. It is tempting to read this passage, hastily acknowledge that this miracle occurred, and dismiss it from our thoughts. Yet this miracle compels us to consider the following dichotomy:

  • the universe is a closed system that is based on immutable laws
  • Christ is willing and able to circumvent the laws of the universe.

Our finite, earthly minds struggle to resolve this dichotomy. Perhaps this miracle should also spur us to ask the following questions:

  • if God is omnipotent and unchanging, how does He exercise His power in our modern context?
  • if God continues to exercise His power, does He choose to work through us in that regard?
  • how can we allow Him to exercise His power through us?

Jesus Calms the Storm February 4, 2018

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Matthew 8:23-27.

Summary: In this passage, Jesus and His disciples encounter a storm on the Sea of Galilee. The strength of that storm causes the disciples to panic and they beseech Jesus to save them. In response, He:

  • rebukes them for their lack of confidence in Him
  • calms the storm.

The latter action overwhelms the disciples.

Thoughts: Here, a storm reveals the disciples’ lack of confidence in Jesus. While we know that they sinned in this instance – given Jesus’ rebuke – I can empathize with them. Indeed, I am convinced that I would have shared their reaction to the storm had I been in that boat with them. In particular, I believe that they were exercising their natural instinct (possibly resulting from evolution) to survive. Their response highlights the central conflict in the life of a believer between the:

  • sinful nature (with its instincts)
  • spiritual nature (i.e. the Holy Spirit).

When we are confronted by trials and temptations, our spiritual nature displays confidence in God – while our sinful nature doubts Him. How can we display more confidence in Him in these instances? I believe that He calls us to “actively” trust in Him, though I struggle to respond in concrete ways.