16th August 2023

The lectionary gospel reading this week is Matthew 14.22–33, the story of Jesus walking on the water. It is a story brimming with familiar quotes and ideas for sermons. Indeed, it was the first sermon that I ever preached…

I was an undergraduate student in Edinburgh. The youth group from our church (Duncan Street Baptist) had been invited to lead a service one Saturday evening at Merchiston Mission – a traditional gospel hall in the south of the city. We had a lively band leading the worship, a young lady called Alison sang, and for some reason I was asked to preach. My theme had been about keeping one’s eyes upon Jesus – when Peter took his eyes off Jesus and saw the waves surrounding him, then he sank. The appearance of this passage in the lectionary got me thinking – would I preach the same message today, thirty years on?

Perhaps. But as I read the passage again, the part of the story that resonated most was the beginning of the scene: “Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water” (v29). Think about that. Peter – a human being like you or me – walked on the water!

Put the physics of gravity and buoyancy and surface tension aside for a moment.

Peter walked on the water.

Ordinary Peter, hot-headed Peter, a fisherman from a provincial northern town, not a miracle worker or a great preacher (at least not yet). But looking to Jesus enabled this regular guy to do the impossible.

He walked on water.

Whatever challenges you are facing this week, with Jesus the impossible can become possible.

Ian Waddington