I deeply appreciate everyone who has read all or some or one of the post in these series, and for your very kind and gracious comments. After this, I just have three more to go and just maybe I will return to blogging about the regular.
The entire series is being prepared into a ten-chapter PDF publication freely available to everyone interested.
Walking On Water
There is something special about having spent time with God. Over the last five years I have continually wondered how it must have been for the disciples to daily live with the full expression of God, God in the flesh, the man Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Quite awesome it must have been.
My best authors in the Bible are Peter, James, Jude, and of course John (in no particular order). In their letters, I can almost feel real life pulsating, and a deep yet simple connection to the essential Jesus. The time they spent with Jesus in his life is always evident to me in the very direct,simple, and straightforward manner of their writings. These people had been with Jesus. It was every thing they sought to convey, quite literally, in their letters.
This is what we proclaim to you: what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and our hands have touched (concerning the word of life – and the life was revealed, and we have seen and testify and announce to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us). What we have seen and heard we announce to you too, so that you may have fellowship with us (and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ). Thus we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
1 Jn 1:1-4 (NET)
Every time I read this, I think about the many great sights the disciples must have seen Jesus do and the awesome teachings they must have heard themselves. I think of Peter, James, and John, on that mount, watching Jesus shining in glory, with history being made right before their eyes.
They may have been mistaken about his intentions, and how he intended to become a conquering saviour. But they were never mistaken about the simple fact that this was no ordinary man from Galilee. This man was super, extraordinary, and as divine as they ever imagined their God to be.
I think of them serving five thousand people continuously from one tiny basket of fish and bread that never emptied. I wonder about the many miraculous mending of bones and bodies, and seeing Lazarus hop out of that tomb in swaddling clothes, literally fresh from the dead.
Oh, they must have had no choice but to worship him. They may have been mistaken about his intentions, and how he intended to become a conquering saviour. But they were never mistaken about the simple fact that this was no ordinary man from Galilee. This man was super, extraordinary, and as divine as they ever imagined their God to be.
Such awesomeness, such beauty, such wisdom, such sweetness, such grace, such love, packed up in a regular-looking carpenter. They knew Jesus was worthy of worship and follower-ship. When they saw mere glimpses of his power and authority in his initial interactions with them, they saw a person who knew what they needed more than they knew. They quickly left all and followed him.
There were many who followed him actually, most looking for stuff. They enjoyed the “shows” Jesus put up, and admired his “uneducated” eloquence. They liked the spectacle he gave, another topic every day for the gossip mills. That was just about it for them. Jesus was a phenomenon quite frankly, and they enjoyed arguing one way or the other about him while they had dinner.
Those sort of followers never lasted with Jesus. I mean, who stays in the cinema hall after seeing the movie of his interest. They go home to talk about the movie! Except there’s something interesting about the cinema hall that keeps them fascinated.
Those who stayed were the ones who saw in Jesus Christ the divine nature of God, and who knew God was with him. Their desire to be close to divinity kept them in his close circles. And for them, it was only a matter of time before they realised that Jesus did not only carry God, but he was willing to share God with them.
He never hesitated to let his inner circle know that the presence of God with him was not for him alone, but also for them. I believe that the more time they spent with Jesus, the more this disciples bade farewell to the world, and indeed to themselves. Focused on Jesus, they saw in him who they could become, and they accepted the challenge, totally believing in his ability to make them as he is.
While I believe the entire Bible is actually very plain and mostly direct, I also am aware that God (maybe personally) has a lot of symbols in there for those who truly desire to know this truth, to see it and receive it.
The story of Jesus walking on water is one classic on this for me. You can read it up in Chapter 14 of Matthew.
Jesus, after a great crusade and a powerful miracle that saw five thousand people eat five loaves and two fish, leaving twelve baskets for charity (right?), ordered his disciples to get on a boat and cross to the other side of the lake. He needed peace and quiet so he could pray on the mountain. The disciples got on the boat and immediately began to battle a storm that threatened to capsize the boat. If only Jesus were with them.
Someone looked out and say what appeared to be a human walking on the water. That was an impossible feat, and the disciples immediately knew it could not be a human. Assuredly, they probably would soon start jumping into the water and try to swim away from this apparition. That is what I would have done, being a true Nigerian. I don’t think I’m that curious.
Jesus probably thought that too, and he immediately called out to them not to be afraid.
“Fear not. It is I!”
Phew! Sighs of relief swept through the ship and every one was beginning to relax. Except Peter. His adrenaline was way over the roof. He saw Jesus walking on water and he knew at once it was not a mere thing. He also wanted a feel of that, how it is to be able to defy the norms. So he called out to Jesus to order him to come to him on the water.
And Jesus did.
Neil Armstrong probably felt really great taking those steps out there, but it could not have been anywhere near the feeling a man can have walking on water unaided. Peter was a fisherman, with great swimming skills probably. Getting into water for him as a human meant taking a dive. This time, because Jesus had ordered it, he went feet first.
Because Jesus ordered it.
Peter walked on water, just like Jesus did. In that brief moment, Peter experienced what it meant to be fully human, yet fully God.
It is easy to miss the profound message of the enabling power of Jesus Christ and his grace when we read this short portion of scripture. It is so profound. Peter saw in Christ a great power at work, and he wanted that power to work in him as well. He did not consider the obvious impossibility of the situation, and the fact that of himself he could never hope to walk on water.
But he knew that if Jesus commanded it, then it was possible.
Such simple faith.
That is the meeting point of God and man. He calls us out, and we respond, without any doubt in our hearts, looking straight at Jesus our example. It will take us time before we realise we have walked right out of our weaknesses and human frailties, right into God!
All of Jesus is at our disposal. We only need to accept the challenge.