The Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
Passage: Matthew 14:22–14:33
†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Text: Matthew 14:22-33
Date: August 13th, 2017; Pentecost 10; Series A
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
In our gospel lesson this morning we heard that St. Peter doubted our Lord – so much so that Jesus said to him, “You of little faith” and asked, “Why did you doubt?”
Isn’t Peter’s lack of faith a little bit disappointing?
I mean, by this point, he had been following Jesus as a disciple for quite a while.
He had witnessed Jesus perform many miracles – water turned into wine, bodies instantly healed, demons cast out, the dead alive again.
And, as we heard in our Gospel reading last Sunday, he had witnessed Jesus turn five loaves of bread and two fish into enough food to feed over five thousand people!
And now, Jesus walks to Peter and the other disciples on the sea!
But even after all of these miracles that Peter witnessed Jesus perform - he still doubts him.
It’s easy to judge Peter, isn’t it?
What else could he possibly want or need to be strong in his faith that Jesus truly is the promised Messiah?
It’s easy to judge Peter for his doubt.
But, when we are honest with ourselves, we too can fail in this department.
Jesus could also say to each and every one of us, “You of little faith”.
He could also ask all of us “why did you doubt?”
Do you have doubts?
Let me ask you this – if Jesus were to come again to judge the living and the dead this very moment, would you go to heaven?
If you are not sure, if you are not absolutely certain, then this is an indication that your faith is little and you have doubt.
Why do we end up at times in our life when our faith seems to be little? Why do we end up in times of doubt?
At times our faith can be a roaring fire. At times it can be a tiny flicker. Why is this?
One possibility for our faith being little is a lack of repentance.
We are persistent in our sin knowing that our actions are against God’s will. But we simply don’t care.
We doubt God as we put our faith in ourselves, in our desires, in doing things our way - rather than in God and his way.
And how often this creates a mess in our life.
How often this leaves us with little faith, doubting God.
Beyond a lack of repentance, doubt and little faith can be the result of denying ourselves the very means of grace that God has given us to stay strong - the Word and Sacraments.
Doubt and little faith can be the result of breaking the Third Commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” – fearing and loving God so that we do not despise preaching and his Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear it and learn it.
When we break the Third Commandment doubt and little faith can so easily creep in.
Our faith is under constant attack by the sinful world, our sinful flesh, and the devil.
These evil forces can drain our faith.
If we continually deprive ourselves of God’s gifts our faith can dry up and we can be left in doubt.
We heard in our gospel lesson that St. Peter began to doubt Jesus when the danger of strong winds and waves came upon him. He began to sink.
The strong winds and waves of living in this fallen and sinful world can also cause us to sink.
The strong winds and waves of financial trouble, addictions, broken relationships, illnesses, the death of a loved one – can cause us to doubt and sink.
And the truth is that no matter how hard we try to doggy paddle and splash about to keep ourselves afloat – we can’t save ourselves from sinking.
Christ Jesus is our only rescue.
With St. Peter, all we can do is cry out to Jesus, “Lord, save me!”
When we find ourselves being tossed about by the winds of life, when the treacherous waves of sin are crashing down on us - all we can do is cry out, “Lord, save me!”
Upon hearing Peter cry to him for help, Jesus immediately reached out his hand, took hold of him, and brought him back to the safety of the boat.
When we cry to Jesus for his forgiveness, life, and salvation - he immediately reaches out his hand to us and takes hold of us.
God reached out his hand to you in the waters of your Baptism when he claimed you as his own.
God reaches out his hand to you as you hear, read, mark, and learn his Word in the Bible.
He takes hold of you and feeds you his true body and blood that you may be strengthened in your faith and be given the promise of eternal life.
He invites you to call to him in prayer and promises to answer in the way that is best for you.
Through his Word and Sacraments, Christ reaches out his hand to you and calms your fears, he heals your sadness and brokenness, he removes your doubts and gives you an abundance of faith and life.
Do you have doubts? Are you of little faith?
Again, let me ask you this – if Jesus were to come again to judge the living and the dead this very moment, would you go to heaven?
You can answer “Yes!” because it is not dependent on you - but only on what God has done for you in Christ.
If salvation, if going to heaven, were left to you – well, then, you would have a lot of reasons to be filled with little faith and doubt.
Your faith, your salvation, your eternal life in heaven is not dependent on you.
It is a gift given to you from our loving God who is merciful and gracious.
Did you notice that when Peter cried out to Jesus for help, our Lord didn’t respond, “Okay Peter, I will save you – but first you better build up your faith and stop doubting!”
No. Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him.
Did you notice that when Peter cried out to Jesus for help, our Lord didn’t respond, “Okay Peter, I will save you - but first you must do this long list of good works!”
No. Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him.
And this is how it is for all of us too.
At times we doubt. At times our faith can be little. At times we are persistent in our sin and we go our own way.
But as we cry out, “Lord, save me!” - he does just that.
He forgives us all of our sin. He declares us holy and righteous.
He strengthens us in our faith, and in our lives, that we live as his holy people - loving and serving him as we love and serve our neighbour.
He saves us.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus has reached out his hand to you, he has taken a hold of you - and nothing can separate you from his love.
Together we joyfully do the same as those who were in the boat with Peter after our Lord saved him – we worship him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.