Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Have you ever taken a boat ride? I bet you have. I never have been a big fan of boats, but I know some people are. Some people like to ride in small boats, and some in boats the size of a small city.
I have been aboard a few sail boats, and I suppose I like those the best. A friend of mine built a small sailboat and he used to sale it on Town Lake in Austin. When I lived in Granbury, I had a friend with a small boat that was more like a big surf board, and that was fun.
My mom had a small sail boat years ago, and I went sailing with her a few times in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Once when we were out the wind just died! And of course we had no paddle. Being the wise one, thought I would push the tiller back and forth and get some speed that way. Guess what? The tiller broke off! Arrrgg!
I have never been on a boat during a big storm, but I did watch The Poseidon Adventure!
There’s an oldie from 1972. For those of you who have not seen it, the story of about a large cruise ship that is capsized by a huge tsunami set off by an undersea earthquake.
There was even a priest on board!
In fact, it is Fr. Scott who leads a small group to their rescue. In a very Christ-like way, he sacrifices himself to get them past the last thing that blocks their path.
There is one scene that is rather haunting. On their way towards the now top-side of the capsized ship, the small group encounters a large group of people slowly walking the other way towards the bow, which is far underwater. They think their salvation will come at the bow. How wrong they are!
Fr. Scott tries, but cannot convince them to repent, so to speak, and follow him. It’s kind of sad knowing these people are trudging along to their doom.
I think one of the reasons the movie was so popular is that it had that theme of salvation by the narrow way.
In the story we heard today in the Gospel according to St. Matthew, Jesus made his disciples get into a boat to cross the sea of Galilee. Instead of going with them, he stays behind so that he can be alone for some prayer time with his Father.
Perhaps this is a small test, or a part of their training. If they are to be sent out as sheep amongst wolves they need to learn to trust their Master, and their Lord. After a long night of being beaten by the waves, they see Jesus walking towards them on the water.
They were terrified as they thought it was a ghost, or from the Greek word, a spirit.
But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” They really had no reason to be afraid, but they were afraid of the unknown. That is a fear that plagues many of us.
What will happen tomorrow? Will we be at war, or will there be peace?
Sometimes children have irrational fears, such as a ghost under the bed or in the closet. Sometimes we adults have fears that seem quite important to us, but in the great scheme of things are very small.
We might worry about having enough money to retire someday, while some people in the world are worrying about where their next meal will come from, or if their child will survive a severe infection.
Many people will never hear the words of Jesus like the disciples did; “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Those are good words to memorize and pull out in the scary times.
These are the words of hope for a world hungering for security, yet many will not hear. They might end up marching the wrong way to their destruction, just like those passengers of the Poseidon, refusing to listen to their shepherd.
Rocky, impetuous as ever, bids Jesus to command him to go to Jesus on the water. Jesus agrees, and Rocky jumps overboard! This is what we call a “leap of faith.”
And his faith is confirmed, because he actually walks on the water and does not sink. That is until he looks down! His mind takes over and tells him, whats the matter with you? You can’t walk on water!
Then he begins to sink, and he cries out, “Lord, save me!”
Jesus reaches out to Rocky, takes his hand, and doesn’t let him down.
I can relate to Rocky. Sometimes I act without thinking it through, and sometimes I end up hurting myself! Many times I have called out to Jesus to save me, mostly from myself. And many times he has saved me.
My life was headed down a dark path, like those poor passengers on the Poseidon, and at the right time I called out, “Lord, save me!” I stand here today because I heard him calling to me, and asking me, “Why did you doubt?”
Most of us adults have had moments like these, and may have a few more. If you haven’t yet, it is most likely you will as it is the nature of this life.
And Jesus was there for us, and he will be there for you. He was there for disciples, and he will be there for anyone who calls out to him. Why? Because of his great love for us, and for the whole world.
And when he calls to you, don’t follow the crowd down to destruction, but turn, repent, and follow your savior. He is the way, the truth, and the life. He will never let you down. Many people will let you down, mostly those you think are your friends, but Jesus won’t.
He is the friend who will never let you down.
He loves you so much he gave up his own life to save you.
He loves you when you feel alone and unloved.
Put your faith and trust in Jesus and he will never let you down.
Listen to him when he says, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.