Good evening everyone. I pray all is well and you're able to enjoy this weekend.
This Sunday we'll be hearing from the Gospel of Matthew 14:22-33 which many of you know as the story of Peter trying to walk on water with Jesus.
This scripture reminds me of something we learned about in church history: that in the beginning there were two branches of what was then called "The Jesus Movement."
There was those who followed Peter, and there were those who followed Mary Magdalene.
That's what I'll be sharing with you all on Sunday, so be prepared for a bit of a scholastic/historical/pastoral sermon.
In the time being, I invite you to take out your Bible and take a look at the Gospel of Matthew.
Look at Matthew 14:22-33. Jesus dismisses the disciples so he can be alone and pray. The disciples get into a boat. It's the evening. The boat is battered by the waves.
Do you recall what water/the sea often represents in the Bible? The answer is chaos, confusion, death.
It is now early morning. The disciples see Jesus walking toward them, on the sea (Jesus is literally walking over death/keeping chaos underfoot), they are terrified and cry out "its a ghost." Jesus tells them not to be afraid, it is he.
Peter says "if it is you, command me to come to you on the water." Jesus says "Come." Peter takes a few steps and sinks. Jesus reaches out his hand and says "You of little faith, why did you doubt."
When Jesus gets on the boat, the wind stops and they all worship him.
Now, turn to Matthew 28:1-10. Jesus has died on the cross and he has been buried. As the sun rises, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary go to the tomb.
What does the tomb represent: death, separation.
There is a great earthquake.
They see an angel of the Lord come and roll back the stone. The angel tells them "Do not be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus...he is not here...Come see..Then go and quickly tell the disciples...this is my message for you."
The women leave the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and they run to tell the disciples.
Jesus appears to the women and says "Greetings". They come to Jesus, hold his feet and worship him. Jesus says "Do not be afraid, go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee..."
I hope you got a chance to see some of the similarities
Matthew 14 begins with the disciples being separated from Jesus by the sea
Matthew 28 begins with the women being separated from Jesus by death
In Matthew 14 the disciples move away from Jesus on their boat
In Matthew 28 the women come towards the tomb where Jesus is buried
In Matthew 14 there is a storm at sea
Matthew 28 an earthquake
Matthew 14 the disciples are terrified and say "its a ghost" and cry out in fear
Matthew 28 the women are told by the angel and Jesus not to be afraid, and when they leave the tomb they run with fear and great joy. And they see the Resurrected Christ.
In 14 Peter walks on water
In 28 the women run on dry land
in 14 the disciples worship him
in 28 the women take hold of his feet and worship him
in 14 the men see what they think is a ghost of Jesus and are terrified and cry out in fear
in 28 the women see the once-dead Christ and come to him, touch him and worship him
Can you see the similarities in these stories. can you also see the differences? I don't know if any other scholars have picked up on these things. But I find it fascinating.
It's like the men in the boat acted like scaredy cats whereas the women were able to hold it together and balance their fear and joy. In fact Matthew 28:4 tells us there were guards present who were so afraid they shook and became like dead men. Yet the ladies remained calm and standing.
What is Matthew trying to tell us? Is there something he was letting us know?
Does it mean something that Matthew 14 involves men, water, walking, waves, terror, cries of fear and worship and Matthew 28 involves women, a tomb, running, an earthquake, fear, joy and worship?
I'll let you thoughtfully ponder it all this weekend.
Until next time, be cool.
Peace, Pastor G