Our scripture this week is Matthew 14:22-33. I usually remove the verse numbers to make reading easier (I think), but this week I’ll leave them in for comparison. Let me know what you think – numbers or no?
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. 25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
In this passage, Jesus sends the disciples ahead while He remains to pray alone (v. 22-23). Jesus knows how important regular prayer is and He left us examples that He prayed alone frequently. Have you ever needed time alone to refresh and restore? Parents of young children know this feeling; it’s likely we all hit a point that we feel we can’t be productive again without a break. Jesus was as human as we are and time alone with God was His way of being restored.
Maybe He knew the disciples needed time alone as well. They had just taken part in the miraculous feeding of the crowd and there would certainly be discussion about what that meant in their lives and in the world. Jesus encouraged the disciples to talk about their relationship with each other and with Him to better understand their connection to God.
However, it is also possible that He had another lesson for the disciples and needed them to be on their own in order to teach it. He knows that eventually they will not have Him physically present with them and they need to begin to learn to share God’s love on their own. Whatever the Master’s reason, it is always out of love for us.
Loving Lord, sometimes we don’t understand the lessons You give immediately, we need time to process and make them part of our lives. Help us to share with each other that we may better learn the teaching You give us. Amen.