Last year after all the Halloween stuff went on sale, my wife and I bought two oversized mascot heads from Walmart. One was a Batman head and the other was a big sheep. We really had no need for them, but they were only $5 so we decided to buy them anyway.
When we got home that night we decided to put them on and take some funny pictures. For some reason though, our dog went crazy. She did not like the mascot heads. She started barking at us and running around the house like crazy. But as soon as we took them off, she calmed down. We put them back on so that she would see that it was just us, but once again she freaked out.
It was as if she was uncertain if that was still us under that mask. She trusted the people in the mask, but we no longer looked like ourselves.
Since they scared her so much, we decided to hide them in a closet but I kept thinking about that experience. That night she saw us differently than she ever had before. And in reality, it must have been scary to suddenly see someone through a new perspective.
Perhaps what Zoey experienced that night is not so different from what Jesus’ disciples experienced on the night Jesus walked on water.
Matthew 14:22-33 shares the story of the disciples sitting on a boat when all of a sudden the wind picked up and the boat started getting battered by the waves. We are told that after a whole night of sitting in this storm, just as morning began to break, Jesus walked towards them on the water.
The disciples knew who Jesus was. They had spent a lot of time together, traveled long distances together and had shared many experiences together. But this time, despite their long standing relationship with Jesus, they didn’t recognize him.
Verse 26 says this: But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’
I get the sense that they kind of recognized Jesus, but because he was different, he was not doing his “normal” thing, they got scared and simply assumed it was a ghost.
To be honest, I can relate to that. When my friends don’t do what I expected them to do my response it to say: who are you? When loved ones are not there for me as I thought they would be, I can’t help but wonder who they are. When the people I think I know completely respond or react differently than I assume they would, I wonder who they are and why they have changed. And even when Jesus moves in my life in a different way than what I assumed he would, I get a little scared because I wonder if I even knew Jesus in the first place.
But maybe they haven’t changed. Maybe I am just learning something new about them. Maybe my relationship with them is getting deeper and more real. Maybe they didn’t change, maybe my knowledge of them changed.
I think the same is true of the disciples. Jesus is standing at a distance and as they look at him they become afraid. If it is Jesus, that’s not they Jesus they knew. Is there something different about him or is it a ghost?
Maybe there was nothing new or different about Jesus in that moment, maybe they just came to know one more aspect of who Jesus is. To this point they knew Jesus could feed thousands, heal the sick and give really good sermons. But now, they learned that Jesus can also walk on water. Little did they know, that there was still a lot more they were going to learn about Jesus.
In that moment, Jesus invites Peter to walk out onto the water and see for himself that the Jesus he see’s before him truly is Jesus and not a ghost. And in that moment, he realized that it wasn’t that Jesus had changed, it was that his relationship with Jesus had deepened and grown.
I hope that the same can be true for you.
Maybe some of you, like the disciples, are standing at a distance from Jesus because who you see or hear is not the Jesus you have traditionally known. Maybe you were told Jesus doesn’t love you. But I want you to hear from me that Jesus loves you. So step out of that boat and go see for yourself how much Jesus loves you.
Maybe some of you have been told that Jesus wants you to get your “act” together before he has any sort of relationship with you. I want you to hear from me that Jesus wants to be a part of your life right now no matter how broken or messed up you might think it is. Step out of that boat and go see for yourself just how desperately Jesus wants to be in relationship with you.
Maybe some of you have been told that the pain and suffering you have experienced was a result of Jesus punishing you for something or trying to teach you some lesson. I want you to hear from me that that is not who Jesus is. So step out of that boat and go see for yourself that Jesus didn’t punish you. Jesus has been there crying with you helping you every step of the way.
Here is the reality. You may think you know Jesus, but if you look closely, you will be surprised by what you find. I truly believe that in Jesus you will find grace, peace, love, hope, forgiveness, strength, life and even purpose. And if that is not the Jesus you know or have been told about, then I encourage you to jump out of that boat you’re in and join us in getting to know Jesus more.
As always, reply to this email if you want to keep this conversation going and if you want to learn more about Mid City Church visit us on our website at www.midcity.church. There you will find information about our small groups, service opportunities, and other devotionals.
Together on the journey, Pastor Fernie