Hello everybody, and welcome in to episode 114 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Matthew 14 today and our focus is on Jesus. Yes, I’m not being coy: Our focus today is on keeping our eyes on Jesus. We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in .  Thanks for listening!  Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\

Some members of the church I pastor listen to this podcast, and they might be close to weary of me talking about keeping our eyes on Jesus. I’ve talked about it before on this podcast too. But, I honestly don’t think I can talk about that subject enough, however, and today’s chapter is a great springboard to encourage both you all and me to keep our eyes on Jesus.

First, however, let’s talk a little bit about grief – not the easiest subject. When tragedy, or death of a family member or friend happens to us, we often have no idea what to do, how to act, how to cope with all of our feelings. In Matthew 14, we see a very interesting, but very brief picture of Jesus facing grief. We don’t know exactly how close Jesus was to His relative John the Baptist. It does not appear that Jesus and John the Baptist were what we would call first cousins, but perhaps they were second cousins, or something along those lines. That said, they were related, and appeared to be friends, or at least know each other. It appears that the death of John the Baptist might have hit Jesus hard, based on vs. 13

13 When Jesus heard about [the death of John the Baptist], he withdrew from there by boat to a remote place to be alone. Matthew 14:13

Jesus dealt with grief, at least in this instance, by withdrawing and being alone…possibly to pray? The only reason I suggest that Jesus prayed in this moment, is because A. It was His habit to withdraw to lonely places to pray and B. when Jesus faced the greatest grieving of His life, He also went away and prayed by Himself, as we see in Matthew 26:

38 He said to them, “I am deeply grieved to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with me.”39 Going a little farther, he fell facedown and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”  Matthew 26:38-39

Sometimes when grief is overwhelming, it is good for us to be alone and seek the Father in prayer, as Jesus did. I note, however, that He kept His friends also close by, not totally separating from them. Even the Son of God did not face grief far removed from His companions.   Let’s go ahead and read our chapter, and then we will discuss keeping our eyes on Jesus…which Peter didn’t, causing Him to seek.

Vs. 26 is quite interesting, isn’t it? “When the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost!” they said, and they cried out in fear.” More than once, the disciples think Jesus is a ghost, and He never tells them that there is no such thing as ghosts, which is interesting. In fact, after His resurrection, He simply says that a ghost (or spirit, as Luke 24 notes) doesn’t have flesh and blood like He does. Very interesting answer. That doesn’t mean that ghosts are real, of course, but it is kind of odd that the disciples appear to have believed in ghosts, and Jesus never disabused them of that notion.

Of far greater import, I find vs. 30 of Matthew 14 to be one of the most profound passages in the Bible:

And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me!”

The Bible doesn’t directly say here that Peter took His eyes off of Jesus. It implies that by saying that Peter began to sink WHEN HE SAW THE STRENGTH OF THE WIND. What a fascinating statement! The strength of Jesus utterly dwarfs the strength of the wind, but Peter momentarily forgot this, and instead focused on the loudest and most obvious strength that He could see, rather than the quiet, controlled and meek infinite power of Jesus. And, taking his eyes off of Jesus, and putting them onto the waves, Peter sunk.

What a wonderful metaphor for us, and it is almost shocking that the gospel writers don’t make a big deal out of it. It reminds me of my favorite pandemic Bible verse:

Hebrews 12 Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2 keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne. 3 For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, so that you won’t grow weary and lose heart.

We are to keep our eyes on Jesus, or fix our eyes on Jesus. In the Greek, we have kind of a fascinating word here, that it almost takes a whole sentence in English to translate.  It is made up of two words smashed together: From ἀπό (G575) and ὁράω (G3708)  Apo essentially means to separate from/turn away from.  Orao means to stare at.  In other words, the Word is telling us here – Look away from other things and STARE at Jesus. 

Peter didn’t do that, He didn’t stare at Jesus, and he sank. Let me assure you friends, whether you’re walking on water, or just living your normal life in 2021…when we do what Peter did – eyes off Jesus, and staring at our problems and trials, we will sink too.

End of the Show: Bible memory verse for April  James 4:6 “But he gives greater grace. Therefore he says: God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Happy by Mike Leite https://soundcloud.com/mikeleite
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