How did Jesus walk on the water
Walking over the water or what does trust in God mean for me (Mt 14,22 - 33)
To be able to walk over water like Jesus - what a fascinating idea! But even many believers are likely to have difficulties with it. It's not for nothing that the joke that everyone knows one way or another is circulating:
A Catholic, a Protestant and a Jewish clergyman meet for a conversation about their beliefs. After serious debates about the similarities and differences in their beliefs, they decide to go for a little game in the rowboat.
When the three of them are in the middle of the lake, the Catholic gets up, gets out of the boat, walks across the water, comes back and sits down again!
The evangelical wants to do the same, gets out - and drunk! The Jew gets up, gets out, goes around and gets back into the boat with dry feet.
The Catholic grins all over his face and says: "I would not have thought that you also knew the trick with the stones!" - Then the Jew: "Which stones?"
So what is this idea of being able to walk across the water all about? Where does she come from? And what is your message - to me, to you, to everyone who is ready to open up to this idea?
There is a narrative in the Bible centered on the statement that Jesus walks over the waters of the Sea of Galilee in the middle of the night and when the sea is stormy. He encourages his frightened believers, that is, his disciples. Hear for yourself what this narrative reads in the Gospel of Matthew:
“Jesus urged the disciples to get into the boat and go ahead to the other bank. After sending her away, he climbed a mountain to pray for himself. The boat, however, was already many stages away from land and was tossed to and fro by the waves; because they had headwinds.
In the fourth watch of the night he came to them; He was walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him coming across the lake, they were frightened, because they thought it was a ghost, and they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus said to them, saying, Have confidence, it is me. do not be afraid! Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it is you, command that I come to you on the water! Jesus said: come! So Peter got out of the boat and came across the water to Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he got scared. And as he began to go under, he shouted: Lord, save me! Jesus immediately stretched out his hand, took him and said to him: You of little faith, why did you doubt? And when they got into the boat, the wind died down. “Only Christians can tell something like that - right? To be able to walk over the water in stormy seas and in the middle of the night! How is that supposed to work ?! Are there really people who believe that Jesus and then Peter actually walked across the water?
I dont know! But not only Matthew but also Mark and John tell of this event in their Gospels. Even if the emphasis is different, Jesus' walk on the water is one of the oldest stories about Jesus. In spite of all of this, I mean that this story is not only about the question of whether Jesus will come across the water like a ghost and whether he will then also let Peter walk over the water.
I invite you to understand the essential elements of this story: the boat, the night, the sea storm, the high waves, the water and the walk across the water not in a physical sense, but in a figurative sense. Then this story can be recognized as a picture for life and its many difficult situations that have to be overcome. And: then the story can address each and every one of us. After all, we all know stormy times in our lives that make us fearful of drowning; And everyone has already experienced that this fear of drowning can take on uncanny proportions, especially at night when we actually want to sleep.
That could be the thundering floods of natural disasters. It can be the gigantic waves of war and violence that threaten to tear the people in Syria, Iraq and Africa to their death. But it can also be a disease that drives us into despair. Unemployment or loneliness that floods me and carries me away in the waves of discouragement. The loss of the partner, the death of the child, the death of father and mother can capsize my boat of life. And yes, there can also be new, unimagined tasks and challenges that cause uncertainty in the face of the big waves that must now be conquered: If I can do everything new, I can do it in such a way that all the other things in my life are not undermined s water are pressed: the time for friends, hobbies, sport, for leisure and serenity, but also the view for the new, the foreign, for the need around me?
Right now at the beginning of the new year, you and I may be faced with a completely new situation and not know how to deal with it. Dark hours, dark days, dark weeks, months and years can spread.
And it is precisely in such life situations that it can be helpful to remember this story in which Jesus comes to Peter over the water in the middle of the storm and in the middle of the dark night and over him - also in the middle of the storm and in the middle of the dark night lets the water go.
Because in the middle of the storms of life we often lose trust and fear cuts off our breath and the courage to face life. Yes, even more: Fear makes me so tight that I find it difficult to recognize help and can experience helpers as frightening ghosts. Nothing and nobody seems to be able to help us to free ourselves from this situation. No wonder that this is why fear spreads among us - pure fear that we would like to shout out just as the disciples did in our story.
However, this fear - sometimes overwhelming everything - does not have to have the last word - that is the message of our story. Because there is still help! One thing can still avert the impending catastrophe, one thing can still give courage, one thing can lead to solutions to the unsolvable situation: trust in God. Trust in God - it's so easy to say. But what is it, trust in God? How can I gain trust in God?
Let's look at our narrative again. She gives us the answer by pointing out that Jesus withdraws to pray in solitude and silence. This is being told even though it doesn't seem important to the actual plot. One could have told the storm and Jesus' walk on the water right away. But this hint that Jesus withdraws to prayer brings us before our eyes and into awareness: Even Jesus, the Son of God, needs the silence, the deceleration, the leisure, the rest, in order to bring his life before God, in order to be ready to open oneself to God and his help out of the threat to life, to enable oneself to listen to God and his life-helping word.
It is precisely in such human emergency situations that God calls out to us: “Do not be afraid! It is not a ghost that comes towards you, it is me! I am close to you! I will help you! ”In the middle of the dark night, with a stormy sea and lost hopes, God is there - unexpectedly - like a ghost and he offers us his support.
However, God does not help us without our doing. We have to do our part too: We have to respond to God's calling for help! Like Peter in our story, we too can and should call out: "Lord, my God, when you are so close to me, tell me what to do!"
And the Lord our God will answer us, you and me.
How? - In any case different from what we are used to, different from our partner, different from our friend, from our family, from our community. Just different from what we imagine. And because of that, God's calling for help and his offer of solutions sound strange, unusual, and maybe even impossible.
All of a sudden you have a new idea, or you come across someone with unusual advice, or you suddenly know for sure what to do. They “hear” Jesus. And what he tells you always sounds "impossible".
You cannot tell yourself which “impossible” act can stem the thundering floods of the natural disaster, by whom or by what the gigantic waves of war and violence can be pacified. You cannot tell yourself to which "impossibility" Jesus challenges you in your fear of the stranger or in your illness, which actually "impossible" step you should take out of solitude. And you cannot tell yourself in which "impossible" way you will create the new professional orientation or your new commitment with all its challenges in such a way that you not only work, but also shape your life so that you not only face the pressure to be optimal Surrender to the task at hand, but also cultivate the art of leisure, in short: You cannot tell yourself what “impossible” to do in the completely new situation. Without God and without trust in God, you can only think of the “possible” that does not lead you out of the threat of fear, worry and need.
In times of need and distress, only God can tell you what you can do "the impossible" - provided you are open to this word of God! Then you will do what God told you: you do what is actually impossible - "you walk on the water".
But be careful: even if you hear and do what God tells you, the difficulties do not simply go away. They stay, but you find ways and means of dealing with them in such a way that you get the difficulties under control and not the other way around the difficulties you control or even keep under control.
In those moments, hours, days and years in which you do the “impossible”, in which you “walk over the water” on God's promise and in trust in him, it is very important that you keep your eyes and your thoughts in mind Always - and even first - focus on God, so that you do not lose sight of God, that you do not focus your gaze first on the waves and the wind, i.e. not first on the dangers, risks and difficulties that arise, but first on god. Do not pay attention to the difficulties first, but always look at them together with your gaze on God!
And a second thing: don't pay attention to the others either. They sit exhausted in the boat, put their hands over their eyes and shake their heads at you. They pretend to be the sensible and smart. In reality they are more at risk with their small faith in the boat than you are with your trust in God on the water. Look to God, trust Him, and go one step at a time! You will not go down!
Finally, a third thing: even if you lose sight of God in between, if the wind and waves hit you so hard that you actually lose sight of God, then it is not all over. Because that also happened in our narrative. Peter, whom Jesus lets walk over the water because of his trust in God, sees away from Jesus in the middle of walking and concentrates entirely on the waves and the wind. It begins - how could it be otherwise - to sink, to sink into the sea of fear, worry and need. Fear wins the upper hand again over trust! We have more respect for wind and waves than for the protective power of God.
That happens again and again; that is part of life and faith - but - praise God - it is not the end. It is not the end - on one condition: that we start all over again, to dare to trust and to practice trusting. Because Peter looks at Jesus again, cries out for help and Jesus grabs his hand and saves him. Together they then walk across the water of fear, worry and need back to the boat and the storm subsides.
Martin Korden has the editorial responsibility.
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