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What Luther Says

SERMON: 'You Can't Walk On Water, You've Got To Stay In The Boat' (Matthew 14:22-33)

There were so many great sermons I came across online for today's passage of Matthew 14:22-33, but I ultimately decided to share this one simply do to the title.

Why? Isn't that kinda ridiculous? Shouldn't it be about the Biblical content and accurate confession of the faith presented in the sermon and not merely about the title?

Yes, yes it should. But we live in a world where so much of American Christianity is screaming at us weekly to "You've got to get out of the boat like Peter did!!!" because if we're not doing that, then we're "failing" at being a "true believer" in this life.

Personally, this is just another one of the many things I find so refreshing about the Lutheran confession of "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3) -- the proper distinction of Law and Gospel, a proper application of the Doctrine of Vocation, and the sheer fact that a Lutheran Pastor will come right out and tell you point blank, "No! You can't walk on water! You've got to stay in the boat!"

To me, that's just so refreshing to my conscience, my heart, and my soul.

So, now that the stage is properly set, let's take a look at this sermon delivered by Pastor Matt Richard.

You Can't Walk On Water, You've Got To Stay In The Boat (Matthew 14:22-33) READ SERMON TRANSCRIPT BY CLICKING HERE

Wasn't that just beautiful?

Again, so refreshing to someone like me who was burdened by the Law for far too long.

One thing I think is definitely worth noting about Matthew 14:22-33 is that when God reveals Himself, mortals tremble (Matthew 14:26; Mark 6:49-50; Exodus 3:6; Exodus 20:18; Isaiah 6:5).

How often do we hear other Christians (specifically of the non-Lutheran stripe) talk about how nice it will be when they're in the presence of God (true, but...), and yet, none of the things they say ever have any root in Scripture? The same holds true with those who claim to have visited Heaven before coming back to this life.

Yes, Jesus said, "Do not be afraid," but that's only after our natural, human response to being in the presence of His divine nature. In this particular case (Matthew 14:27), Jesus spoke a word of encouragement and self-revelation. Besides, after all, let's not forget that it's only a few verses later when the disciples' expression of reverence for Jesus is on full display right then and there in the boat, which is striking (Matthew 14:33).

I like how my Lutheran Study Bible summed up this passage of the text...

Matthew 14:22-33 When Jesus reveals His divine presence to His disciples by walking on the sea, they can only conclude: "Truly You are the Son of God." As long as Peter keeps his eyes on Jesus, he also is able to walk on the water. Like Peter, we often look away from the object of our faith and focus on our problems and doubts. Although we know the Son of God is with us and provides for all our needs, we still worry and fear. Jesus states, "Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid." His powerful arm reaches out to steady us and guide us into His safe harbor. Divine Savior, when the storms of life threaten to shipwreck my faith, assure me of Your loving presence and protecting care. Amen.

"Because we are sinners, the presence of God is a terrifying thing," but "take heart" and "do not be afraid" for Jesus Christ has revealed Himself to us as our Lord and Savior, and He has generously given us grace, mercy, forgiveness, and redemption, or anything and everything that we could possibly need.

In a Lutheran layman's terms, don't be like Peter and react as though Christ's words and promises for you aren't enough, and that you somehow need to prove to yourself that He is who He says He is, and that He will do what He says He will do, but that He must prove Himself to you on your own terms.

My favorite part? Remember the quote Pastor Richard cited from today's sermon.

Baptized Saints, "Peter’s faith is not being held up as an example to emulate. His weakness is being showcased, in order that, in direct contrast, Jesus’ identity and power and grace might be seen more fully. There is nothing admirable in his example, nothing bold about his desire to get out of the boat."

You're not Christ. You can't walk on water. "Stay in the boat" and simply believe Him!

Thank you, Pastor Matt Richard, for today's sermon on Matthew 14:22-33 that properly reminds us to "stay in the boat" and simply BELIEVE that Jesus Christ is (and that the Word and Sacraments are) enough for you, when so many Christian voices in the world today would have you believe that you're not a "true believer" unless you "step out of the boat" yourself like Peter did.

NOTE: As you know, I am a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is not consistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a "Book of Concord" containing our Confessions even existed. In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by common Evangelical concerns/criticisms that aren't that big a deal for us Lutherans. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Finally, please know that any time we engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible unless otherwise noted. Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!


About JKR

Christian. Husband. Father. Friend.

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Thank you for visiting A Lutheran Layman! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question since we do not exercise censorship. We've seen a similar policy with other blogs and it's worth repeating: Please act as if you're a guest in my home, and we'll get along just fine. I think anyone would agree that the kind of back-and-forth that is characteristic of blogs/chat forums and social media is becoming tiresome for all of us. Still, we should confess, edify, and love (and contend and defend when needed). Bottom line? Search the Scriptures! Apply Acts 17:11 to anything and everything you find here and, if you do happen to disagree with something you find here (which is certainly ok), or think I'm "irresponsible" and "wrong" for writing it, then please refute my position by supporting yours with Scripture and/or the Confessions. I don't think that's an unreasonable request, especially for those who identify themselves as "Christians" here, right? Besides, Proverbs 27:17 tells us "Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another" and 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." If you have an opinion that's great, I welcome it, but try to support it using God's Word. I mean, if the goal here is to help us all arrive at the truth of God's Word (myself included), then it should be easy to follow through on this one simple request (I'm talking to all you "Anonymous" visitors out there). Grace and peace to you and yours!

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