The Holy Gospel: August 7, 2011 (Year A)

Read:  Matthew 14:22-33

Meditation:  “In the Boat”

This story almost always focuses on Peter getting out of the boat, and it moves on from there to make one or more inferences about Peter’s action.  This time around, I was captured by another part of the passage—the phrase, “those in the boat worshiped him”  (v. 33)

Apparently, there’s more than one way to conclude that Jesus is the Son of God.  One way—the obvious way revealed in what Peter did—is to get caught up first-hand in what Jesus is doing.  And I hope that all of us have personal experiences to recount in our journey with Christ.

But what I saw in reading the passage this time is that the other eleven were not left out.  Matthew says it plainly, “those in the boat worshiped him.”

Sometimes we are the ones who have the testimony; at other times we are the ones who hear the testimony someone else gives.  Only one disciple walked on the water, but they all worshiped.

There’s a strain of Christianity that believes everything has to be based on first-hand experience, otherwise it’s just second-hand faith.  But this passage puts things in a different light.  There is a legitimate encounter with Christ that can come from observations that don’t include first-hand experiences.

What matters when all is said and done is that everyone worships.  It’s wonderful when we can sing, “You ask me how I know he lives; he lives within my heart!”  But not everyone in church each Sunday is on that kind of shouting-ground.  Some of us come to church more as watchers than walkers.  We are more in the boat than on the water.  Yet, we too can worship.

Only one disciple walked, but everyone worshiped.  Thanks be to God that we can still say “Jesus is Lord” even when we remain in the boat.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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