Session #102 The Other Side
Scripture Matthew 14:22-36
Summary This teaching marks and celebrates five years of KINGDOM101 since the first session in March 2015. In this 102nd session, Henson Lim teaches from Matthew 14:22-36, the account of Jesus walking on water. We all have an “other side” to get to. However, when we face oppositions and challenges along the way, would we give up or keep going forward? The key lies in knowing who Jesus is, getting to Him and staying in Christ – by faith. In these uncertain times brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, may this encourage you to keep moving on your assignment, knowing that in spite of the many disruptions, the kingdom is still advancing.
Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”
When they had crossed over, they came to the land of Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent out into all that surrounding region, brought to Him all who were sick, and begged Him that they might only touch the hem of His garment. And as many as touched it were made perfectly well. Matthew 14:22-36
This account by Matthew, which centres around Jesus’ walking on the water, shows Him to be the Messiah and provides important lessons for disciples as they journey through difficulty.
Jesus the Messiah
Jesus’ walking on the water (Matthew 14:25) is not just another one of His miracles. It is an act that relates directly to God, an aspect of the Messiah. As Job was answering God in an encounter, he described God as one who “treads on the waves of the sea.” (Job 9:8) Elsewhere, God is described as having a “path in the great waters.” (Psalm 77:19) In responding to His disciples’ fear of seeing Him walk on water, Jesus identified Himself by saying, “It is I,” (Matthew 14:27) which alludes to how God first identified Himself to Moses: “I AM WHO I AM.” (Exodus 3:14) Jesus’ disciples would have likely been familiar with these parallels since they were Jews, contributing to their epiphany after they declared Jesus to be “the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:33) The significance of this cannot be overstated; Jesus is the Messiah.
Looking at the broader context, the miracle of Jesus’ walk on the water (Matthew 14:25) occurs amidst the disciples’ journey from having just ministered to a multitude (Matthew 14:15-21), to move to another group of people in Gennesaret that they attended to (Matthew 14:34-36). In Archippian terms, this would be akin to moving from the Assembly Area (AA) to the Area of Operation (AO), a journey that can be challenging, and hence, requiring important lessons to learn.
Jesus was focused. After participating in the thrilling miracle of the feeding of the five thousand (Matthew 14:15-21), one would have been inclined to take a break and relish at the moment, especially in the case of Jesus’ disciples, who would have been tired and hungry (Mark 6:30-36). Instead, Jesus immediately dismissed both the crowds and His disciples (Matthew 14:22), before proceeding up the mountain to pray (v23). Jesus was aware of the priorities at hand. He knew that His work with the multitude was done and that He and His disciples needed to be elsewhere. An Archippus must remain focused on what is important at the moment, even if that is uncomfortable.
Jesus was spiritually rested. In going up the mountain to pray (Matthew 14:23), Jesus prioritized the need to spend time directly with God. More than just physical rest, an Archippus must prioritize spiritual rest.
Jesus was faithful. After sending his disciples away, Jesus was likely interceding for them in some capacity as He was praying, since He had seen it (Mark 6:48) when their boat was going through a storm in the middle of the sea (Matthew 14:24). He then proceeded towards their boat amidst the storm (Matthew 14:25). When Jesus’ disciples were fearful of seeing Him, He immediately assured them by identifying Himself (Matthew 14:26, 27). Later, as Peter lost faith momentarily, and was sinking and crying for help, Jesus immediately stretched out His hand and caught him (Matthew 14:30, 31), before ceasing the storm (Matthew 14:32). In dismissing His disciples at the start, Jesus had likely instructed them to go to Capernaum (John 6:17) by way of Bethsaida (Mark 6:45)—a longer route along the coast instead of going directly across—, but the account shows that they had landed at Gennesaret instead (Matthew 14:4). Since four of His disciples were fishermen (Matthew 4:18-22), it is likely that they thought better of their sailing experience than Jesus’ specific instructions—He probably knew about the impending storm in a direct crossing. Finally, when they arrived at Gennesaret, Jesus was faithful yet again to heal all who came to Him (Matthew 14:34-36). Time and time again, we see that Jesus was completely faithful to people, especially in the case of his disciples, as He interceded for them, came to their timely rescue, and guided them from danger beforehand. An Archippus must trust in the complete faithfulness of Jesus, even in the small things.
Peter’s response to Jesus’ walk on the water is also noteworthy because of his faith.
Peter had aligned faith. When Jesus had identified Himself amidst the storm (Matthew 14:27), Peter had responded by saying, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” (Matthew 14:28). While Peter’s response might seem somewhat rhetorical and redundant since he already knew it was Jesus, he can be more accurately taken in the original language to be saying, “Lord, since it is You.” In other words, Peter was directing his faith towards Jesus as he sought to be with Him and emulate His example of walking on the water. Peter wanted to be both where Jesus was and to be like Him. More than just putting faith in Jesus, an Archippus’ must align their faith to be ultimately with Jesus and for Jesus.
Peter had active faith. In walking to Jesus (Matthew 14:29), Peter had gained a more solid faith to walk on water than the other disciples, as he took this personal and riskier step of faith. Even as he lost faith and began to sink when distracted by the waves (Matthew 14:30), Peter had a more personal encounter as Jesus caught hold of him and assured him (Matthew 14:31). In taking the initiative to actively exercise his faith, Peter had experienced a more personal encounter and gained greater faith. An Archippus must strive to exercise active faith when appropriate, for it will be worth the more personal encounter with God and the greater faith gained.
When moving from the Assembly Area (AA) to the Area of Operation (AO), an Archippus will likely be faced with challenges and obstacles along the way. What is important is for faith to be placed in Jesus the Messiah, who will always remain completely faithful to people.