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Lesson 5: Miracles

We are suspicious of grace. We are afraid of the very lavishness of the gift!

– Madeleine L’Engel

Devotion: Read Matthew 14:22-36. Jesus physically heals people so they will listen to his teachings on the reign of God. In the same way, Jesus walks on the water to confirm his identity as someone greater than a rabbi with a new teaching. The disciples’ response to the miracle says it all: “truly you are the son of God” (14:33). The earlier fearful awe created by Jesus’ miracles (8:27) has been replaced by worship. What is the difference between believing Jesus is a great teacher/moral example and worshipping him?  

This miracle story offers an additional lesson, provided by Peter’s adventure on the water. Why does Peter ask Jesus to call him outside the boat? What causes Peter to begin to sink? In this context, what does “doubt” mean? When have the circumstances around you caused you to waver in your focus on Jesus or your faith in God? Is it possible to display faith without stepping outside the boat? What is your boat?

Personal Worship Option: Read Hebrews 11:1. Faith in God is less about what we believe intellectually and more about how we live. Faith does not mean the absence of doubt; it means acting in spite of our doubts. Faith is choosing to live like Jesus even when it means you stand out in a crowd. Spend time praying that God will show you a step of faith you can take in the next few days.

Dig A Little Deeper:

14:23 Jesus is still looking for privacy following John’s death (14:12) which the crowds have denied him. Do you have an adequate amount of private time with God? Knowing everyone is different, how much quiet time with God do you need regularly to have a healthy, spiritual life?

14:25 “Early in the morning” is rendered “in the fourth watch of the night” in many translations. Romans divided the night into four periods, called watches. The fourth watch lasts from 3 to 6 am.

14:28 Peter is assumed to be the leader of the disciples at this point. The early church has no qualms about showing Peter’s positive and negative sides. Why is it important for groups to see the flaws of its leaders? How might protecting a leader weaken a congregation and that leader?

14:29 Peter gets out of the boat, but experiences weakness in the test. How is this reaction in comparison to the other disciples?

14:30 Peter’s exclamation reminds the reader of the disciples’ cries earlier in a boat (8:25). Likewise, Jesus’ comment about Peter’s lack of faith recalls his earlier statement (8:26).

14:33 This is the first time Jesus is described as “son of God.” And yet, we know these disciples will fall away prior to the crucifixion (26:56). We must not confuse confession of faith with spiritual maturity. Celebrating Jesus’ identity is a first step. Obedience to his teaching (Jn 14:15), seeking the desires of God (Mt 7:21), loving God and neighbor (Mt 22:34-40), and exhibiting the “fruits of the Spirit” (Gal 5:22-23) are a few of the steps leading toward spiritual maturity. What are other steps leading to maturity in faith?

14:34 Gennesaret refers to a plain at the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee.

14:36 Apparently the story of the woman who was healed (9:20) by touching Jesus’ garment has spread throughout the region.

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