Matthew 14:22-33 From Doubt To Worship And Confession.
Again Jesus wanted to be alone, so the disciples were urged to depart in the boat, and the crowd, having been satisfied, were also sent away (v. 22). This gave Jesus the opportunity to finally be alone, and to pray (v. 23). There is a lesson here for all who would follow after Jesus, that there are times when we are needed by others, but it is also necessary for us to take time to be alone, and to pray. In the bible mountains are symbolic, representing power and dominion. From a mountain top one can get a view of all that is below, at least what is within one’s own purview. We also need this perspective at times, places where we can get a view of everything in our own purviews, and from that vantage point to pray, for there is more power in prayer than all the kingdoms of the world combined. We pray that his kingdom would come, and that his will would be done on earth as it is in heaven (Mt. 6:10).
“But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary” (v. 24). We all often find ourselves in a boat in the middle of a sea, with winds that are contrary. Life is like that all too often. Our place is much like that of the disciples. We also are urged to head out into the world, while Jesus is physically at another place, but still praying for his own, as he no doubt did then, “since He always lives to make intercession” (Heb. 7:25b). The fourth watch of the night was between 3 and 6 am, and anyone who has worked through these hours knows that they are indeed the most trying. Jesus comes to us to help us with grace, exactly when we need it the most (Heb. 4:16). Often it is at the point of our greatest need that we are tempted to imagine the worst, when what we thought were ghosts give way to Jesus presence and help, and fear gives way to cheer (vv. 26-27).
What is often remembered about this occasion is the words and actions of Peter, who does indeed represent many of us. When we hear the word of God, we take great courage believing we can overcome our circumstances with his help. All we need is his command to come (vv. 28-29). However, like Peter, most of us also can’t take our attention away from what we fear, and our circumstances then have greater weight than the word of our Lord. It is then that we stop advancing forward in his cause, and all we have left is the salvation of our own souls (v. 30). It is sad that the church so often cannot get beyond a cry for the Saviour, but has so little faith to gain the world for her Lord. We, like the disciples in that boat, need to fall down and worship the King of kings and Lord of lords, end our individual and collective doubt, and venture forward in faith to fulfill the Great Commission given to us (vv. 31-33 Cf. Mt. 28:18-20).