I’m now 40 years old and I’ve decided there are a few things I’m not going to do. I’m no longer going to send any text messages. If God wanted me to take 15 minutes to type, “Hey, how’s it going,” he would have given me a stutter. I’m no longer going to do it. I’m no longer going to pay fealty to the international coffee syndicate known as Starbucks. Aside from the requirement to speak a form of bastardized Italian in order to buy a simple cup of coffee, I refuse to pay their exorbitant prices and be part to the card board wrapped fantasies of self-importance they seek to create. I’m also not going to preach another, “Jesus wants us to get out of the boat and walk on water sermon.” I’m sick and tired of the, “if we only had enough courage, unlike Peter, and listen to Jesus’ voice” sermons and I’m not going to preach them anymore. I’m through. I’m done. Mark me finished.
Now: This passage is about having the courage to see the world in a different way. Once we start at the beginning and work our way through the end, our perspective will gradually shift. We will start to see that what we’ve been conditioned to see differs fundamentally from how Jesus teaches us to see and interact with the world. That’s what’s happening now. Do you want to participate in what Jesus is saying and teaching? That’s what this passage lays before us this morning.
What do we do after?
After our challenge, our primary missional need has been met.
By way of review, here’s what we’ve done:
An exceptionally large number of people have been fed-spiritually and physically.
They have been fed by Jesus and his team of mission minded disciples. They fed this massive crowd (of at least 5,000 which is an estimate that only counted the present adult males, so you better figure on 7-10,000 to be more realistic) oblivious to any distinctions within the crowd. No questions were asked about income verification. No one was asked if they were receiving Social Security and Food Stamps, as this might disqualify them from the miracle. They were all allowed in and they were fed.
Here’s what else we did by participating in this miracle. We removed the existing boundaries and standards that are usually applied to determine how you get to eat, live, work and survive. We said those no longer matter. We said the only boundary is whether you choose or not to be present.
That is a dangerous proposition. Wars have been started for something so trivial. Everyone can eat, live, and survive with regard to any objective standard other than the simple fact they are alive.
If you say that in parts of our country, they will call you names.
Say that in other countries, you can find yourself dead.
When we sit down and think about it, we don’t like Jesus’ world-a world without boundaries, rules, and regulations.
We want a world with bouncers at the door; whether that bouncer is:
a simple thing like food scarcity (as long as our cupboards our full and we’re not on welfare)
price fixing (as long as we can afford to pay anything at anytime)
or people turning other people (just not you) away
Jesus says no. Everyone gets in and we all eat together. The feeding of the five thousand is as much a mind miracle as a substantive (now you see it, now you don’t) miracle. It changes our ideas about abundance and entitlement.
Fear-what we talk about when we done.
If we’ve learned anything up to this point, we’ve learned that our minds aren’t big enough. We don’t get what Jesus is trying to do. Is it any wonder, when he puts us in a boat, and sends us on our way, the boat starts to sink? The boat isn’t a boat. The boat is us. We are our boats. The boats are our minds.
Our minds are big enough to handle such an expansive level of change like the one Jesus is laying on us. Remember, he keeps hitting us, with one thing right after another.
The next thing you know, the realization hits you, “I don’t want to be in the boat, in the place, with these people, or part of this plan.” It gets too crazy to fast.
Jesus, get me out of here. This boat, with this open expanse of people, attitudes and change is taking on water faster than I can handle the winds of the coming change.
The same emotions strike again; the same as before.
I’m fearful when there are no boundaries. I’m fearful when I can’t see the limits of the shore or the horizon. I’m fearful when I don’t know where I’m going. I’m fearful when I see the limitless expanse of the Kingdom of God being put into action. If people are being fed, if the margins are coming in from the center, that means Jesus is for real, and the change he’s advocating isn’t just a pipe dream. Our comfortably realities, my 3 bedroom home and 42 inch flat screen back in Capernaum may not be all it’s cracked up to be. When this hits me, I become more than a little frightened. You might even say it’s like a storm brewing inside me. I’m angry, confused, and the images of my past-embittered memories mix with the hopeful scenes of the day just past. It’s like I’m seeing ghosts.
I’m fearful when things are given away. I’m fearful when places in our “disciples” boat are offered to people who aren’t “disciples”. I’m fearful when I may give my life away and I won’t know why or what I ever lived for.
I’m fearful when my worldview starts to sink all around me and there’s nothing I can do but reluctantly ask for help.
So Where Are We Now?
Jesus steps into the middle of the fear by stepping out of the crowd to spend time alone.
The great miracle of this passage is that we are once again reminded that Jesus needed to get away and spend time alone. He sends the disciples on their way, disburses the crowd, and then goes off in prayer.
If we ever needed a clear cut, simple as pie, practice of Jesus to emulate, here it is on a silver platter. Spend some time in prayer alone. It must have been beneficial for dealing with lots of crap because it obviously helped Jesus deal with his. I’m going to recommend picking this one up. Try 10 minutes a day. Try doing nothing but listening to God in silence. Leave the prayer concerns to some time.
What about Peter?
Peter’s getting out the boat is Jesus asking Peter to come be alone with him, to move away from the situation causing him fear and spend some time with God. He’s saying basically what I said, “go spend some time with God”; except he’s doing it in person and on water.
I’m no longer of the opinion that his miracle is just about Peter getting out the boat, walking on the water, and testing his faith. When you read everything else that’s going around it, I’m seeing a bigger story.
The water provides the quickest way for Peter to get to Jesus, for him to close the gap between here and there.
If you want time with Jesus, time for him to deal with your fears, there he is, go to Him. He’s right there.
If you want to deal with what’s happening with you, this turmoil, you need to get away (remember that’s the first thing Jesus does) and pray.
Go to Jesus.
Be Alone with God.
How often are you alone with God? How often to you put down the rules, lists, demands, and structures, and just go be alone with God?