The Arena
The Arena

Episode 579 · 3 months ago

Understanding Jesus | Walking on Water | St. Matthew 14

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

The Arena Podcast is the flagship of Patristic Nectar Publications and contains the Sunday Sermons and other theological reflections by Father Josiah Trenham delivered from the ambon of St. Andrew Church in Riverside, California and begun in 2010. Currently there are more than 550 sermons and lectures covering ten years worth of preaching through the liturgical calendar.

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Now available at patristic nectar dot Org. patristic nectar publications is pleased to present a seven part lecture series by Father Josiah Trenham entitled Heaven, our True Home. One of the most shocking realities of the preaching and teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ to his early first century Judean audience was his fervent, expansive and repetitive teaching on Heaven. Heaven literally permeates the sermon on the mount and our Savior's parabolic instruction. The Holy Apostles received this single eyed focus upon the next life from the Lord Christ and passed this teaching on to their disciples in the early church. Sacred tradition has vivified and animated the discipleship of Christians in their race toward heaven ever since. In these lectures, Father Josiah opens the scriptures and the writings of the church fathers on the subject of Heaven in an effort to plant a deep impression of the future life for God's children and to stir up a great desire for obtaining it. For these and other available titles, please visit our website at patristic nectar dot org and now the arena with Father Josiah Trena. In the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, a blessed Lord's Day to all the few brothers and sisters I'm preaching this morning on the Gospel Text I've entitled my homily understanding Jesus. This text this morning is from the Fourteenth Chapter of St Matthew's Gospel and it serves as a bridge from last Sunday, the Sunday of the feeding of the five thousand, to this incredible account of Jesus walking on the water. Matthew, as does mark and John, who also recounts this event, he describes this incredibly sharp transition from Jesus being with his disciples working this incredible miracle for five thousand men, if you add women and children, maybe up to twenty people. Just think of how many people that is. Think of a time when you've been somewhere and there's twenty thousand people. Think of a stadium, maybe for a massive sports event or for a concert or something. That is the population that the Lord was feeding from nothing, or I should rather say from a few loaves and fish. Jesus has been doing this. This must have been an incredible work. Talk About having a small concession stand right here, the twelve disciples and Jesus distributing food for that many people. And then Jesus does something amazing, something a new usual. He asks his disciples in a very curt way. He says, look, you have to leave, get in the boat and go across and I'm going to stay here and deal with the people. No more explanation than that. Can you imagine if the congregation, on our little tiny feasts that we have, if you all came up to me and said Hey, at the very end, father, we're leaving, you know, following the principle of Jesus, after eating, we have to go. We're gonna leave you here to take care of everything. Oh, thank you so much, thank you so much. Why did he do this? Why did Jesus Act this way? Why did he send all of his helpers away and stayed to deal with the people himself? There's a clue that John gives us. He gives us the answer, in fact his accountess recorded in chapter six, around Verse Fifteen, it says that Jesus perceived...

...that the people were intending to come and to take him by force and make him king. This was the response of the people after they had seen this marvelous multiplication of fish and lobes. The fervor, the Messianic Fervor, and interpreting that Messiah in their way, in that very earthly Jewish way, had reached such a height that Jesus thought that they were going to just forcibly take him and put the crown on his head, that they were going to come and say, Jesus, we know who you are, get rid of these Romans, bring an end to this illegal occupation, deliver us from this bondage to pagans. I think that we can infer from Jesus sending the disciples away that the disciples themselves were not very far from that thought. Jesus is about to start right after this. He begins his concerted preparation to convince the disciples that his whole mission is not that that's a pathetic, small vision of a mission compared to what he came to do. He begins to convince them that his destiny is not that. It's not to have a crown on his head and to kick out pilot. His destiny was to be betrayed into the hands of sinful men to be abused and suffer and to be crucified and on the third day rise again. Mark, who records this account at the end of chapter six, begins in chapter eight with quoting Jesus saying that to his disciples. In chapter nine Jesus says exactly the same thing again to his disciples, and in chapter ten Jesus says exactly the same thing again to his disciples. You see what's going on in their minds. Jesus is trying to help them understand the centrality of his suffering, that the Messiah came to die. He came to deal with a much greater problem than what they all thought the problem was, which was not the Romans. This is the first thing I want you to see. John helps us a little bit too in this. In his account about this, he says that the disciples heart was hard. They were having a hard time perceiving who Jesus was and the core of his mission because their hearts were hard. Sometimes we want Jesus to save us, but we want him to save us from the things that we think we most need saving from. These people wanted the Romans out, they wanted the occupiers out of their land. But they did not want sin out of their hearts. They needed to be conquered by Christ. They needed to have the enemy removed, yes, but not the Romans. They needed the demons from here. They needed the hardness from here out. What about US, dear ones? Many of us know how desperately our nation needs Jesus's guidance, but how desperately do we feel our need? I think it's a big temptation. I feel it in my life and I suspect that you feel it in yours too. When you're when you're nation that you love is on fire, when it is...

...m digressing, collapsing further and further and further, it's very easy to become fixated upon how much the nation needs Jesus to save it and miss the real issue of why Jesus came, which is you and me. Our land needs saving, no one questions that. But the land that most needs saving this land, this dirt, and that's the best way to make the contribution to your country. You want to make a great contribution to the United States, yield, yield yourself to Christ. Let him be your ruler, let him conquer you. We no Washington, D C or Sacramento or in great need. But what about nine o seven at four seven zero zero, Canyon Crest drive? How about that? I could put your addresses, but I don't know all your addresses and I have my book right. These are the addresses that we have to pay attention to. So Jesus protects his disciples from DIS fervor. He currently sends them away, and look at where he sends them. This is my second point. Jesus deals with the people. We have a very short sentence. That is a very brief explanation on how Jesus dealt with people. I would love to have seen that. How he possibly calmed them down, let them know he has no intention of letting them make him king by fourth and then sends them away so that he can get some peace. What a wonder. I have no idea how he did that. We'd love to have learned something from that. Jesus sent the disciples into a boat and he himself went up to a mountain to pray. Here we find the Lord in the Wilderness in concentrated prayer. Again, at another very important moment in his ministry, the evangelists described Jesus as praying constantly in the middle of miracles, before miracles, after miracles. But they focus on his retreats, his retreat to go someplace to be with his father, away from noise. They focused only a few times on that, and always at a point in Jesus Ministry that was exceedingly important. Something was happening that he needed to prepare for. So we have the evangelists tell us that he left and went to the mountains to pray before he chose his twelve apostles. It was such an important decision that he retreated into silent prayer. He went into the Wilderness to be with his father and spent the night resisting sleep and making sure what he was doing, praying through that here, just as he's saying no to a definition of his ministry that wasn't from God, that wasn't his father's will, at this very important point, when he's turning his attention to Jerusalem, it to the cross, we find him retreating again. And then once more it gets semony. When the ultimate purpose of his mission is right before his face and he's about to be arrested and about to be crucified, he strengthens himself all night in prayer. Well Jesus was doing that, we find the disciples on the path of obedience. They did exactly what they were told. Jesus said, get the boat and go across, and that's exactly what they were...

...doing. And look at what happened to them. They're in a boat, a terrible wind rises, the sea is deep, capable at some parts of producing incredible waves that topple and sink small boats. In fact, the text tells us that we just heard that they were straining. That's how it's often translated in English. They were straining at the oars, the images the winds hitting them keeping them from making progress in their command from Christ to go to the other side. They were rowing as fast as they could, twelve men rolling at full strength, going nowhere, expending all their energy and making absolutely no progress. Have you ever felt that before, making a valiant effort, busting there, hung and going nowhere? The word that is used, that is used here, Vassa needs ooh, it's an interesting word. It's usually translated torment, torment. They were in torment doing what apparently God wanted them to do, but it wasn't going well for them. They were being drowned by the waves St John Chrysostom in his commentary on this. He says this terror, this great trial, came on them in the path of obedience. God sent them into the storm. He commanded them to go into this terrifying situation. How often, when we find ourselves in frightful trouble, do we think immediately something must be wrong, don't we think? So often when we find ourselves in a really bad way, we're like, oh, what is going on? And in this case the answer is nothing. This is exactly what I I'm speaking for Jesus. This is exactly what I intended for you. I sent you there. This is exactly where I want you to be. That's a hard thing to accept, but it's clear. They ended up in this trial because they were obedient and it sets the stage for Jesus coming to them, which is the last point I want to make. Jesus walking on the sea. He comes to them uniquely. How how does he come to them uniquely? Well, you're probably thinking, father means he comes to them uniquely because he's walking on top of the water. Men Don't do that, especially in terrible storms. But there's Jesus. Can you imagine that sciples are in torment. They're probably running out of energy. You know this. Last summer our teens we went camping in central California and one of the days we spent was on a beautiful beach called Rin Kong. Rincon's about fift twenty minutes south of Santa Barbara. Very famous point break there. In fact, it's a matter of fact, it's a it's an incredible surfing spot when the waves are large. For you beach boys fans, it's in the Song Surfing USA. Actually it's one of the places that the Beach Boys mentioned in their surfing us a song. We had a great time there. We went there because the beach is absolutely packed all the time with Driftwood, incredible driftwood, and all the kids had competitions creating the most interesting art piece castle whatever with the driftwood. But I told them a story of something that had happened to me on that beach when I was young. My first year in College,...

I went surfing there on the occasion of a massive, massive swell. That would be called stupid. Yes, I went there and the waves were massive, several stories high, and when you are working, when you're surfing against that kind of swell, that kind of pressure. It's absolutely exhausting. It's absolutely exhausting if you take a wave in trying to get out past the break, especially when the swell comes in successive sets where the waves are breaking a little bit further out each time. You have to use such incredible effort to try to get out pass the break just to get set up to try to take one. And I say stupid because you can also be tricked by the excitement of the moment not to be listening to your body and you could end up finding yourself out there unable to have the energy to go anywhere. And that's exactly how I found myself. I was in torment. I didn't have enough energy even to lift my arms properly to swim, because I was having such a time I didn't want to come in it properly and I almost died. I got hit by a wave. It took my board. The force of the wave was so great that it took my cord, my leash, which is attached to your ankle and bound to the board, and snapped the leash right in half and I was left now out there with no board and no energy, and I looked in and I saw my board bouncing on the rocks on the shore, which is exactly what I thought I was going to do, and then I prayed. I think they call that a foxhole prayer. Yes, I prayed in my desperation and I remembered that I had been taught in a in a class, in a in a scuba diving class, that if you ever find yourself in a situation like that, you should make like a duck and put your legs out wide and your arms out wide, keep your head up and you'll have the most buoyancy. And that's exactly what I did. Wave after waves smashed me in the head, twirled me around. I had no idea if I was going to be able to get to the surface before I ran out of breath. Next thing I know, I was on the sand myself, like my board, bobbing on the sand, on the rocks, and I just put my elbows up and I crawled up onto the sand out of the waves and went to sleep and just thank God, I just think God was that I was alive. I have never forgotten that. It was exceedingly important to me it. Everybody has something that they did when that was so stupid, when they were young, that it really taught them to believe that they were stupid, and believing that you're stupid really helps you from being stupid in the future. It really helps you. And this was my moment. This was my moment where, because I was so dumb, I learned. I learned. I think it was God's will for me. He took care of me, he kept me alive and then taught me tons of things through it. These disciples had to learn something and the only way that they could learn it was to be stuck in the middle of the most frightening situation. It was God's will for them and they had to learn mostly exactly who Jesus is and why he came, and that's how the whole account ends. They see Jesus walking on the sea and they know, good Jewish boys that they are. They've chanted the psalms, they know that only God treads upon the waves. Only God, not men, walks on diseased. They had just seen him multiply loaves and fish for people, but...

John's very clear that they were not seeing clearly. Their hearts were hardened and they were not seeing clearly, and Jesus wanted them to see who he was, and that's most apparent in mark's account, because in Mark's account this will blow your mind. And Mark says that when Jesus is walking on the sea, he quote, intended to pass them by. Unquote. Did you hear that? They're drowning, they're in torment, they're almost out of energy, they're thinking that they're going to get and then they see Jesus and then he's like hey, guys, he's walking by them. What is that? What is that? He intended to asked them by. It's very important reference. Jesus was there to show them something about himself. We have a little bit more of a clue of what that was when he looked at them and he said incredible words. Two things. Don't be afraid EGO EMI. It is I. It's often translated it is I, but that phrase has an incredible history. John, especially in his Gospel, uses it all over and over and over again. Those words are the words. If you read the SIP to a Gent when God tells Moses His name, the Septuagent writes down this. I am, I am is sometimes translate I am who I am or I shall be who I shall be. Jesus is wanting them to figure this out. His disciples are tempted to have the JEWISHPERSED perspective. Jesus came to free us from the Romans. This is what it's going to be. and Jesus is pulling his hair out. He's like, I just multiplied fish and loaves for people and you think I just came to free you from the Romans. I'm walking on the water for you and I'm passing you by. Do you see this? Do you see this or do you not? Doesn't that make the word from John Even more clear? That they did not understand because their hearts were hard? Just think of Pharaoh. Why did Pharaoh, after seeing love those miracles that God, produced ten plagues? Why did Farrell Not Know God? Because his heart was hard? Why did the disciples have such a weakness towards this shallow perspective of what Jesus was trying to accomplish that the crowds had who have been fed? John says, because their hearts were hard. Jesus was trying to change their whole opinion of himself, change everything. Look what I'm here for. The account says, and John that when Jesus got in the boat he did two more immediate miracles. The wind ceased that moment and, quote, immediately they were at the shore. He showed that by their by his presence in that boat, the thing that they feared nothing, it's nothing, and immediately they were at their destination. Jesus wants us...

...to know who he is and why he came, and it's much greater than anything, any little thing like fixing a nation. He came to conquer what couldn't be conquered. What we should really be afraid of? The Devil, our own sins death. If he can conquer those things, which he does, everything else follows. Everything else follows and we don't have to worry about anything, anytime, anywhere. No Storm, no storm. If your savior is God and walks on the waves, may his name be praised by US and may we know who he is and want him for what he truly offer us. On them. We hope that you have enjoyed and have been edified by this presentation offered to you by Patristic Nectar Publications, a nonprofit organization committed to nourishing the spiritually thirsty with the sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers. If you are interested in other available titles. Or if you would like more information on patristic nectar publications, please visit our website at www dot patristic nectar dot org. Again, that's www dot patristic nectar dot org.

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