". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Who's It All About?

We had a guest pastor Sunday--Pastor Josh Genig from St. John's in Wheaton, Illinois. Wow, what a blessing he was to our worship. Beautiful chanting, great liturgical reverence, and an excellent sermon (except for being too short). He preached on the Gospel, Matthew 14:22-33, which I will quote in part below:

"And Peter answered him, 'Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.' He said, 'Come.' So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, 'Lord, save me.' Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, 'O you of little faith, why did you doubt?' And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, 'Truly you are the son of God.'" (Matthew 14:28-32)

Pastor Genig noted how this passage has been looked upon both as an illustration of Peter's great faith--after all, he got out of the boat and walked across the water!--and of his lack of faith, since when he saw the wind he began to doubt and thus to sink. Most of us hearing it are likely to picture ourselves in Peter's role and wonder, "How strong is my faith?" and to take away the message that if only I have enough faith I will be able to walk on the water (metaphorically speaking) like Peter. But Pastor Genig made the point that that is simply the wrong question, because this passage is not about us at all, nor about Peter, but instead it's ALL ABOUT JESUS, who comes to us in our faithlessness and our sin and reaches down His hand and pulls us up out of the water into the safety of His forgiveness. Our faith is not of ourselves, but of Him, and our salvation comes only through His action, not our own. So as we leave worship on Sunday having been fed by Word and Sacrament, only to stumble before we even get out of the building, we like Peter have only to look to Jesus, asking, "Lord, save me" and to know without a doubt that He will, that in fact He already has, through His own death and resurrection.

Aren't you glad it's not about you?


Susan K said...

The fact that I'm Lutheran kept me from shouting "Amen!" but I definitely considered it.

elephantschild said...

On the wall in my home church's sanctuary is a very large oil painting of this passage. It's painted with Peter half in the water, his face stricken with terror, looking up desperately to Christ and Christ's arm reaching down to pull Peter up out of the depths.

To quote someone else, "It's not about you, it's about Christ FOR you." :)