The Rev. Melissa Hollerith
Today’s Gospel: John 6:16-27
After Jesus miraculously feeds thousands with a little boy’s lunch, He walks into the hills alone. His disciples head to the lake’s edge to wait for Him, but Jesus does not come back and it is getting late in the day. The disciples want to cross the lake before dark. Some think Jesus might have already crossed the lake so the disciples head out across the water on their own to Capernaum. Suddenly, a terrible storm comes up, and the disciples struggle to row through it. They are terrified. The disciples are about halfway across the lake when they see Jesus walking on the water towards them. They are speechless. Jesus calls out to them and says, “I am here, do not be afraid!” Jesus gets in their boat, and they safely arrive at their destination.
This reading is an illustration of how Jesus rescues us just as God rescued the Israelites from Pharaoh when they crossed the Red Sea. And let’s face it–we all need to be rescued. The question is when Jesus reaches out, how do we respond? Do we take His hand? Do we trust? Or do we rely on our own devices, thinking we can save ourselves?
I know for me, I tend to trust only tentatively, relying much more on myself than on Jesus. It has only been when I have been rendered helpless and in great need that I have cried out, wanting Him to rescue me from my own storms. This happened when we wanted so much to have a baby and yet for years couldn’t. And again when I was diagnosed with cancer. With the cancer I kept thinking of His words, “I am here, do not be afraid.” Yet, I found it hard not to be afraid. It is hard to trust that He is with me. It requires a leap of faith, even when I can recall all He has promised.
As Christians, we know that storms will come. Most of us are either in a storm or coming out of a storm. We all face difficult times. Some are our own doing, and others are beyond our control. Either way, the good news is our Lord promises to keep us safe and take us to shore. He promises never to leave us or forsake us; not even death can separate us from Him. We will never be able to make sense out of senseless tragedies, but we can choose to believe that God is with us through all of the storms of this life. That is His promise.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come.
’Tis grace that brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home. Amen.
Author: John Newton, published in 1779 as a Christian hymn