Jesus' power and grace
In this short, well-known account we see a tremendous combination in Jesus: amazing power and amazing grace. The power is easy to find. He is the Son of God who was present at creation and whose power over nature cannot be denied. He demonstrates his control over the laws of chemistry and physics as he walks on water without getting wet. He tells the winds and waves to cease, and the sea is instantly calm. He transports a boat to shore in a heartbeat without sails, oars or a motor (John ). His power is undeniable.
And so is his grace. When the disciples are afraid of drowning, Jesus comes near to them. When they are afraid he is a ghost, Jesus calms them by identifying himself. When Peter makes a bold request, Jesus grants it.
Now let’s zoom in to look a little closer. Stop and think for a minute. Do you suppose that Jesus was surprised by what happened next? Or did he know full well how this episode would play out? Was he playing a cruel joke on Peter, letting him think he could walk on water when he really couldn’t? Or did Jesus engineer these events to give impetuous Peter and the disciples the kind of lesson they would never forget (and neither should we)?
Yes, Jesus knew Peter would sink…and Jesus is right there to catch him when his faith wavers. By grace Peter is able to experience Jesus’ amazing power as he walks across the rough waters. By grace Jesus answers Peter’s desperate cry (“Lord, save me!”) with an open, outstretched hand. And by grace Jesus climbs into a boat full of sinners, even though they know full well he has no need for it. Truly he is the Son of God.
In Matthew’s account of the Holy Gospel, we are reminded of God’s power and grace because we see these priceless attributes in Jesus. Only the God of creation could climb into our boat and make a real difference in this fallen world. Only Jesus can answer our desperate cries of “Lord, save ME!” Only Jesus could calm the wrath of a righteous God by his death as true man, flesh and blood like us, but without our sin. Only Jesus could show his power over the laws of sin and death by rising from the grave. Only Jesus can invite us to follow him in the face of great trials and give us the trust that when our weakness is exposed, his power is revealed. Only Jesus is the perfect combination of amazing power and amazing grace that we need for life, now and forever.