Christianity 201

October 11, 2013

Puzzling Over Peter

Filed under: Uncategorized — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:13 pm
Tags: , , , , ,


This is an original article for Christianity 201, submitted by Kim Rogerson. This is actually her third time here at C201, and for this one, I ‘commissioned’ a New Testament subject!

Matthew 14:28-31

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

I tend to notice what is left out just as much as what is said. So, like the Grinch, I’ve been “puzzling and puzzling” over the story of Peter walking on water with Jesus. Three of the four gospels tell the story of Jesus walking on water, yet only one adds that Peter also walked on water – and, it’s not the most obvious gospel.

The only gospel that relates that Peter got out of the boat is Matthew (14:22-33). Matthew was an apostle of Jesus and provides an eye-witness account of what happened. Luke does not tell the story at all and John (John 6:16-21), like Mark (Mark 6:47-52), only says that Jesus walked on water, no mention of Peter’s involvement. Why is the story of Peter walking on water related in Matthew and not anywhere else? And, especially, not told in Mark where you would think Peter’s influence would have been the best source?

Of all the gospels, Mark, who was an “associate of St. Peter” (The Expositor’s Bible) and “wrote this gospel under the directions of St. Peter” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible) should have had Peter’s own story of what happened that night.

As I’ve puzzled, I consulted several worthy commentaries of the Bible, hoping to have some answers. I did not find out why Mark leaves Peter out of the story, but I did glean some insights from Spurgeon’s Verse Exposition of the Bible. Spurgeon writes, “It looked like great faith when Peter walked the water; but a little wind soon proved it to be’ “little faith.’”

I tend to leave out details that perhaps may show my ‘little faith.’ I would much rather tell you of when I trusted than when I doubted. But the doubts are there, mixed in with the certainty that the Lord will save me.

Spurgeon also writes, “Peter was nearer his Lord when he was sinking than when he was walking.” It is a curious thought that my failures in trusting God can also be what leads me closer to Him. The doubts are what drive me to say, like Peter, “Lord, save me!” I cannot save myself, but I cry out in the midst of my doubts and can only look to Him who can and will save me.

I am reminded of Mark 9:24, “Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!’” We are strange creatures where one moment we know God can do the impossible and the next doubt He will. The dichotomy exists in us; thankfully, this does not limit God to what we think. His response is to chide us for our ‘little faith’ and to lead us to a greater understanding of who He is, so proving He can be trusted.

Peter may have wanted us to think of him as having great faith and so left out his own experience of walking on water which reveals his doubts and fears. Or maybe he didn’t put much emphasis on that miracle, focusing more on Jesus than on himself. Whatever the reason, the omission caught my attention; I panned for gold and found a few nuggets.

Kim Rogerson enjoys exploring how the Bible is real and relevant for today. Kim’s passions include reading, laughing and not needing a reason, chocolate, her family, backgammon, church, and winning against a worthy opponent!

March 5, 2011

Heart Broken? Try Duct Tape

If this blog serves no other purpose today, I hope it introduces new readers to; a source from which I’ve probably quoted material here than any other.  This one appeared under the title Duct Tape for the Soul.

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

Many local businesses in our area are owned by Christians and we are accustomed to seeing signs and Scripture verses on businesses proclaiming an aspect of faith. Each Christmas and Easter our local community Merchandiser papers often have the entire front pages devoted to the seasonal spiritually related theme.

I enjoy reading ad fliers from hardware stores and earlier this month I received a sales flyer from the Paul B. Zimmerman Hardware store near Ephrata Pennsylvania. Among the ads displaying drain cleaner, hinges, cable ties and other items for sale is a display box that includes a Scripture verse under the heading “Duct Tape For The Soul.”

As a home workshop enthusiast I find two items indispensable to a complete workshop:  Duct tape and WD-40.  (I suppose I should add bungee cords, as well.)  Many years ago we were eating in a diner near Sand Springs, Oklahoma and I saw a big burly construction worker type man with this slogan emblazoned on his sweatshirt, “WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH THE TOUGH USE DUCT TAPE.”

I learned early on in life the many virtues of duct tape from my dad.  It’s amazing how much can be fixed with it. I’ve even seen well-worn Bibles covers that Christians refuse to part with bound together with duct tape!

I think of duct tape when I consider our daily verse.  The Hebrew word for “bind” (chabash) has the sense “to bind firmly.”  I’m glad God’s binding is not a flimsy variety.  This same word is used by Isaiah in describing the mission of the coming Messiah when he states, “He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted” (Isaiah 61:1).

What a joy to personally experience this healthful binding in my own life and as a minister of the Gospel to help others experience it as well. Yesterday I spoke to a group at a nursing home service and used this verse as my main text. I consider the accumulative aspect of brokenheartedness experienced in that senior group throughout their lifetime. Of course many had lost a spouse in addition to their parents, siblings, and in some cases their own children.

There are inevitable times of brokenheartedness experienced through life, and more so as the aging progresses.

Today are you brokenhearted?  Do you have some spiritual wounds?  I’ve got good news for you!  God has not changed.  He still cares.  And He still acts. “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

~Stephen & Brooksyne Weber