|Series Theme: Jesus Christ, the Son of God|
|Meditation No. 8|
|Meditation Title: More Worship|
Matt 14:31-33 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God."
Yesterday we thought about the Wise Men' or Magi and pondered about why they should come and worship the baby. We considered that you only worship God. Worship is a lesser being acknowledging the greatness of God. Be quite clear in your mind about this idea of worship because it does come up a number of times in the Gospels and it is always a recognition of the Supreme Being, and when it is worship of Jesus then it is a recognition that he is God's one and only, unique Son.
If you are a seeking sceptic, then when it comes to this story, as it will be with any miracle', then you will be likely to balk at what happens and try and explain it away, for miracles challenge our intellect. They are things that go against nature. If there IS a God and if Jesus IS His Son, then the One who made the world must surely have the power to change the world as He sees fit, or interact with it in ways that appear to run contrary to the way He has designed it to be. For instance, water is a total fluid material and you cannot walk on fluid material unless it turns to ice! That didn't happen in the account that we remember today.
Our verses today come at the end of a passage that tells us that a) the disciples were in a boat making their way across the Sea of Galilee in the night, b) Jesus came walking across the water towards them, c) he called Peter to get out and walk to him, which he did, d) when Peter realised what he was doing he began to sink and Jesus caught him and lifted him into the boat.
Please, don't let's go back over all the business of why the writers wrote and can we believe them. Matthew, Peter and John had been there. They saw it, they experienced it! However you try to rationalise this story, it doesn't work. It either happened as they said, or nothing of it ever happened. Why make up such a story? Integrity, honesty and truth are the currencies of Christianity. They couldn't live with a lie. It happened. What is significant in the light of what we have been saying about worship, is that these tough men of the world worshipped Jesus because they recognised there was something here that was utterly beyond them, because mere human beings don't walk across a sea! Their declaration is also clear: "Truly you are the Son of God."
But this isn't a one-off occasion. Consider this example: A man with leprosy came and knelt before him and said, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean." (Mt 8:2) His kneeling is an act of worship or at the very least, subservience. Then there is the man who had been blind from birth: Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" "Who is he, sir?" the man asked. "Tell me so that I may believe in him." Jesus said, "You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you." Then the man said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshiped him. (Jn 9:35-38).
The concept of the Son of Man comes from the prophetic Scriptures of the book of Daniel and indicates one coming from heaven: there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. (Dan 7:13,14) He is clearly one worthy of worship. This man who had been blind and had now been healed, recognises this, and falls before Jesus in worship.
A similar example is Peter in his fishing boat: When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" (Lk 5:8) Peter is a fisherman and he knows the waters and knows there had been no fish there, yet when they drop their nets at Jesus' instruction, they are filled. A miracle! His falling on his knees before Jesus and the nature of his words, say this is an act of fearful worship. He recognises that he is in the presence of One who is not of this world, and it scares him!
Another example that fits here is of unbelieving Thomas when he eventually encountered the risen Jesus: Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe. Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God! (Jn 20:27,28) The physical presence of the risen Jesus utterly convinced him. He acknowledges Jesus as God! Now what we have in each of these cases is people who have realised that, because of what is happening, they are in the presence of a greater one, one who is God in the flesh, one who is worthy of worship.
Note one final thing before we finish. In every case Jesus did not stop them worshipping him . It was a natural and right thing for them to do and so he was not going to rebuke them. How different was the reaction of Paul and Barnabas, years later in Lystra, after a miracle there when the crowds sought to worship them: But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: "Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you. (Acts 14:14 ,15) For any Jew, to have someone fall down and worship them was terrible. They were ever mindful of the Ten Commandments, You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them. (Ex 20:3-5) Worship was exclusively for God yet Jesus happily received it when it was given him.
So was he just a wild heretic? No, everything else about him, all he ever said or did, denies that conclusion. There is no way that his teaching or his acts could lead to that conclusion. The only thing that might produce that reaction is his obvious acceptance of worship and the implications of that. The Jews insisted, "We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God. (Jn 19:6). For those willing to be open and face the truth, these accounts leave us no other conclusion, other than Jesus claimed, and proved it by his actions, to be the unique Son of God.