The Scriptorium

Lord of the Elements

No need to fear. It's Jesus. Matthew 14.22-27

Matthew 14: Son of God (4)

Pray Psalm 29.1, 2.
Give unto the LORD, O you mighty ones,
Give unto the LORD glory and strength.
Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name;
Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

Sing Psalm 29.1, 2.
(Toulon: I Greet Thee Who My Sure Redeemer Art)
Give praise to God, you children of the earth!
Tell of His strength, proclaim His glorious worth!   
Give to the Lord the glory due His Name!
Worship in holiness; His grace proclaim!

Read
Matthew 14.1-27; meditate on verses 22-27.

Prepare.
1. How did the disciples react to seeing Jesus walking on the sea?

2. How did Jesus put them at ease?

Meditate.
Feeding the multitudes with a few loaves and fish was pretty impressive. It would have been especially impressive for the disciples, who knew both the resources they’d begun with, and the leftovers they had collected afterwards. They had seen Jesus creating food, like God had created the heavens and the earth – out of nothing. We can be sure this would have made a firm impression on their minds, suggesting that Jesus was very like God, if not even perhaps God Himself.

To emphasize and punctuate that point, Jesus sent His disciples onto the sea, while He took some time – at last – to be alone with His Father. As the disciples made their way across the sea, a storm arose, making progress difficult, if not uncertain.

Then, suddenly, the disciples saw Jesus coming toward them, “walking on the sea”! They thought He was a ghost, and cried out in fear (v. 26).

In his book, Reading Backwards, Richard B. Hays makes an important observation about Job 9.8, which reads in the NKJV, “He alone spreads out the heavens, and treads on the waves of the sea…” Hays explains that the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, has Job 9.8 as follows: “who alone stretched out heaven and walks upon the sea as upon dry ground.” This verse is situated in a passage that magnifies the greatness of God and His power over all the elements of the vast cosmos. Its purpose in the story of Job is to strike a note of warning and fear in the hearts of those who presume on the Lord.

In our passage, Jesus demonstrated without doubt that He is that God Who “walks upon the sea as upon dry ground.” But instead of seeking to terrorize His frightened disciples, Jesus meant them to be at peace: “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” He intended for them to make the connection with Job and other passages in the Old Testament showing that God rules the waters of the sea. He wanted them to glimpse His great power, His divine majesty and might. And then He wanted them to rest in that power and be at peace.

Jesus invites us into the shelter of His divine power as well. He is the Lord of the elements. Every day, when we look out on the vast expanse of creation – the sky, clouds, rains, rivers, towering trees, elegant birds, and fearsome storms – we see Jesus at work, upholding the creation by His Word of power (Heb. 1.3). The scope of His rule is all-comprehending; the enormity or His might is infinite; and the glory of His beauty, wisdom, and order weighs heavily all around.

And He says to us through that witness of the creation, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”

Reflect.
1. Why did Jesus want His disciples to see Him as Lord of the elements?

2. How can we see Jesus in the various aspects of the creation?

3. Why can we be of good cheer and unafraid in the face of Jesus’ power and glory?

Now he is leading them into a greater degree of challenge. Now he is not even present to them. He has departed. In midsea he permits a storm to arise. This was all for their training, that they might not look for some easy hope of preservation from any earthly source.
John Chrysostom (344-407),  The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 50.1

I don’t need to fear anything because of You, Lord Jesus, so help me today to…

Pray Psalm 29.3-11.
Rejoice in the Lord’s sovereignty and power, and commit your day to serving Him in all you do.

Sing Psalm 29.3-11.
Psalm 29.3-11 (Toulon: I Greet Thee Who My Sure Redeemer Art)
Over the waters, over thunder’s roll,
God’s voice creation’s mighty pow’rs controls!
Cedars collapse at His majestic Word.
Nations are shaken by our mighty Lord!

God speaks and lightning streaks across the sky.
By His decree He shakes the desert dry.
Speak, Lord, and life to beasts and men is giv’n.
Forests dissolve, and glory rings in heav’n.

Sovereign, the Lord sat o’er the raging flood.
Sovereign forever rules our gracious God!
God will His people bless with strength and peace:
Lord, may Your holy Word to us increase!

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore