Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28/ Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b/ Matthew 14:22-33
We Can Walk on Water
Sometimes, We Surprise Ourselves
Have you ever experienced doing (or achieving) something that you previously thought impossible (or improbable)? You might have heard of a mother suddenly mustering supernatural strength to save her child from something heavy, like a car.
For me, sometimes, I feel amazed at what I can do on the piano. Training all year and then intensely practising a few pieces for the performing arts festival makes my skills grow exponentially. Every year, I feel amazed at how my skills have grown and what I can play. Before meeting my teacher, especially when I was going through my piano education as a child while hating it, I had never imagined what I would be able to play on the piano at this age. Sometimes, we surprise ourselves.
Peter Walks On Water
Could we walk on water? We are all educated enough to know that it is not possible. That is why we needed to invent boats and other devices that float on water. But there was a man in the Bible, besides Jesus, who did. That man was Peter. When we read today’s gospel story, we tend to focus on the fact that Peter failed and almost drowned; but instead, think of the fact that, even for a little while, he was able to walk on water.
Jesus sent his disciples on a boat ahead of him because he needed some quiet and alone time to pray. Meanwhile, the boat encountered a storm and the disciples must have been scared. Then, they saw Jesus walking toward them on the water and thought they were seeing a ghost. Jesus reassured them that it was him, and Peter, overwhelmed with awe, wanted to join him. Jesus said, “Come,” and he walked on water for a little while before sinking.
The important thing to reflect on here is why he was able to walk on water and why he started sinking. He was able to walk on water because he trusted Jesus. While walking on water, he had his eyes on Jesus. He walked with faith. But then, he noticed the strong wind and got scared. That is when he started sinking. After saving him, Jesus said, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” This is a story about faith. When we trust God and keep our eyes and focus on God, we can do things that we might not think is possible. It is when the shadow of doubt distracts us from God that we fail.
Joseph Sold Into Slavery
Today, we read about someone else whose life turned out quite miraculous. Let us learn a bit about Joseph. Recently, when we read the text in which Abraham’s grandson Jacob got married to two sisters, I mentioned his two wives, two concubines, and twelve sons. Well, among his twelve sons, there were only two who were born from the wife he loved, Rachel; Joseph and Benjamin.
In Genesis chapter 37, Benjamin was not born yet, and Jacob loved Joseph more than any other sons, and it showed. He grew up as a spoiled boy. His older brothers were jealous of him and angry that father gave Joseph special treatments. They wanted to get rid of him, but couldn’t kill him. Instead, they sold him to some Ishmaelite merchants on their way to Egypt. Ishmaelites are the descendants of Ishmael, who was Abraham’s first-born son from his wife Sarah’s slave girl Hagar.
This is what we read in today’s reading. This is the beginning of Joseph’s miraculous life as God’s chosen person. You may all know the gist of his life story; He was sold as a slave in Egypt, his master’s wife seduced him, and when he refused her, she framed him of raping her. While he was imprisoned, he met two of the pharaoh’s servants, interpreted their dreams, which led to him interpreting the pharaoh’s dream and becoming the governor of Egypt. During a seven-year famine, Jacob’s sons came to Egypt to ask for food and reunited with the little brother that they had sold into slavery. Joseph’s life turned out to be quite miraculous.
Through him, people of Israel started moving to Egypt, until they became so many that the pharaoh who felt threatened by their number enslaved them, which will lead to another miraculous story of Mose and Exodus (but that is a story for another time).
With God, All Things Are Possible
Do you think Peter had ever thought he could walk on water if he had not seen Jesus walk on water and believed that Jesus could make him? When young Joseph was sold into slavery and wrongfully accused of a crime, do you think he could have believed what his life would turn out to be? Through all his crazy ordeals, Joseph never blamed God. He was truly a person of God.
Jesus said in Matthew 19:26, “With God, all things are possible.” Of course, that doesn’t mean I can suddenly become a millionaire for wishing really hard, or literally walk on water. But we should learn that, with faith, God can do incredible things through us.
Even through a small congregation like ours, we can’t even know what God is capable of doing through us. What we need is faith, both as individuals and as a community of faith. We should never say what is possible and impossible with us. Only God knows it.
Therefore, we need to harness and strengthen our relationship with God. Through our strong faith and trust in God, we can let God work miracles through us. Let us just trust and follow. Let us move on with the faith of the psalmist, who sang, “Bless God, my soul. Hallelujah! Give thanks and call on God’s name. Turn for help to the One who is your strength; seek God’s presence continually. Remember the marvels the Most High has done.” With a strengthened relationship with God, with our strengthened faith, let us go out into the world into which God sends us to (metaphorically) walk on water and be the agents of God’s marvels of love. Let us be God’s people of abundant faith, instead of “little faith.”