While on tour of the Holy Land in 1867, Mark Twain enquired from a boat operator in Tiberias how much it would cost to cross to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. When he was told it would cost him $25 (because the boat operator mistook him for a wealthy tourist) Mark Twain is reported to have remarked to his wife, “No wonder Jesus decided to walk”.,
The story of Jesus walking on water is probably one of the most remarkable stories in the New Testament. Kids learn it in Sunday School. It is depicted in different forms of art and it affords illustration for different spiritual lessons.
Still, the story raises a number of questions. First, did Jesus need to walk on water and why? How about Peter; and that is the question of interest to me here. What was Peter’s motive in attempting to walk on the water like Jesus? Was it to test Jesus, or simply to show off?
Most people point to Peter’s faith – or lack ofhttps://joelmlayblog.wordpress.com/book-project/called-to-ventures-of-which-we-cannot-see-the-ending-by-paths-yet-untrodden/ – in this story. And many may wonder, why didn’t he simply stay in the boat, in faith that the situation was under control with Jesus? I think though, that the point is about stepping out into the unknown, into the chaos and the raging waters, and knowing that that is where Jesus is .
The sea’s turbulence represents the chaos in society. Think of the “acceptable” economic system that produces casualties in poverty, homelessness, despair, violence, exploitation, and so on. Our society may accept and defend the status quo as divinely ordained. But true faith as exemplified in Peter’s risk in taking that first step into the chaos leads true followers of Jesus to meet him in the chaos of poverty, injustice and uncertainties of final outcomes.
This is how I find meaning in my favorite prayer:
- Lord God,
- You have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending,
- by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown.
- Give us faith to go out with great courage, not knowing where we go,
- but only that your hand is leading us, and your love supporting us;
- Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.