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In the Treasury today, we read of the account of Jesus walking on water and St. Peter's humiliation. The text goes that Jesus sent the Apostles ahead of Him on a boat and Jesus catches up to them later, during the 4th watch of the night. Jesus didn't take another boat out to meet them, but instead walked on water. This showed that Jesus was not just man, but also God, meaning that an ordinary man in and of himself can not defy the laws of nature. Then Jesus further confesses His divine nature when He cries out, "Take hear. I AM. Stop being afraid." Jesus declares Himself to be the "I Am," the same God that brought Moses and Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. Upon hearing this, Peter petitions Jesus to call him out into the water. Jesus does and Peter takes a few steps, but when the winds get rough, Peter gets scared and starts to sink. What does Peter do? Does he try to swim? Does he ask for a life saver from the boat? Does he say his last prayer and give up his spirit? No, he dries out to Jesus, "Lord, save me." Peter cried out for help from Jesus, and Jesus, helped Peter who was of little faith.
Meditating upon this text, Luther said, "But it pleased Christ that he should be tried in this way. For if he had not been tried, he would have been puffed u. But it is better to be tried than to be puffed up. For in this way the promises are retained, and in this way we learn to understand those sobs of the saints." (Treasury 828). Peter's flesh was crushed, literally drowned, in order that he may see how weak he really is. Only in his weakness does he cry out to Jesus as his sole help and as his only savior. Peter is tried by the winds in order that Jesus may be his only life and salvation from drowning.
My friends, it is the same with us. If we are not tried, tempted, burdened by the things of this life, then we become conceited and think too much of ourselves. If we are not tested and terrified by the changing winds of this life, then we walk as if we have no weaknesses. When you think you are stronger than you really are, the devil comes in in your lethargic and soft state and overcomes you before you even realize it. Like a fighter who doesn't fail in the sparring ring, so we Christians will get knocked out by the devil if we don't recognize our utter weaknesses and failures. We should never feel good about our holiness or Christian walk, but rather should perpetually see our weaknesses in order that we may despair of any hope in self preservation by means of our own merit.
May we despair of ourselves, and may the Holy Spirit be granted to us that we may be as St. Peter was. May we cry out to Jesus alone as our sole provider and savior. May we, in those times when the winds are rough, trust not in our own works, but instead rely on the mercy of Jesus to save us and forgive us. For, Jesus comes to we who are of little trust, those who doubt, and he lifts us out of the stormy waters in the words of Holy Absolution. From the pastor's lips flows the words of the Gospel that Jesus purchase and won for us on Calvary's cross by shedding His blood in sacrificial atonement. Jesus comes as we cry out for Him to save us and He says, "Take eat. Take drink. This is My Body and Blood for the forgiveness of your sins." Hear, says Jesus, for My Words are words of life, forgiveness, mercy, and love. NO matter how high the waves get and no matter how far down you sink, Jesus comes to you in your weakness and lifts you up in His righteousness and keeps you secure in His mercy.
Peace be with you. May the devil be silenced, the world be hushed, and the Old Adam be drowned anew so that you hear only the peaceful voice of your Savior Jesus who says, "I forgive you. I love you. I claim you as My own forever," Amen