Let us think more about Lent. The 40 days are here to remind us, to prepare people — to prepare ourselves — for the meaning wrapped up in the “Easter Story.” In fact we should think on those things all year, and we do, but Lenten observances provide spiritual power-boosts.
The ancient contemplation of the Stations of the Cross, even reenacting Jesus’ walk, is something I have done, and enriches one’s faith. Deeply.
But before Christ’s betrayal and arrest… He was still Jesus, the Son of Man who walked amongst us. What I mean is this: if it is efficacious to contemplate the Cross and Resurrection outside of Lent’s parameters, so is it helpful to our beliefs if we remember the everyday ministry of Jesus, even during Lent.
For instance, Jesus walked on water, on the Sea of Galilee. This is recorded in Scripture, and we should know therefore that God intends a message for us. At the very least, this is one of the miracles that Jesus performed to confirm His divinity — for the sake of His disciples, and of unbelievers in the area, and for the sake of us today.
Alert: I do not pretend to any learned theology here. This is just spiritual speculation. But, to me, miracles like healing and raising from the dead and feeding multitudes were for the immediate benefit of those who were touched, as well providing as larger lessons. Miracles like walking on water and calming troubled seas might be more in the category of “Who say you that I am? Here’s a hint…”
If so, take that a step further. How often is Peter the disciple called out to trust Jesus, to act on the dare of faith? And how often does Peter — impetuous, presumptuous, boastful Peter — fail in the moment? He sinks into the water; he denies knowing Jesus at crunch time. (And how many of us identify more with Peter than with other disciples…? I do.)
Jesus did tell the disciples that many more, even “greater,” miracles would they do, that the Holy Ghost would come to be Christ-in-us. Now, I have seen miracles, I have witnessed healings, I know that Jesus’ words are true. Yet we cannot fail to confront the fact that when Peter looked down and sank into the water, Jesus did not turn to one, or more, of the other disciples and say, “Now, ye of greater faith…” after which they all strolled on the surface of the Sea. And we don’t see it today; I haven’t.
Insecure Christians are afraid that people will conclude that Jesus’ promises might not be true. But I believe the real lesson of such miracle-stories, leading up during Lent, to the greatest miracle of all, is not that Jesus was only teasing and therefore not God, but that… people are human. And all that this fact implies.
Peter sank because he looked down, when he should have kept his eyes on Jesus. And I just have the feeling that if we could perform many of the miracles that Jesus did, we all would start trusting in ourselves, and stop looking at the Christ. I hate to admit it, but I know that I would.
When Christ lives in us, we are empowered to look to Him more than to ourselves… and that is the essence of the spiritual battle. We arebetter equipped, ironically, in order to be less self-reliant.
Less of us, more of Him. Walking on water… we can view it as one of the unique spiritual paths Jesus took, in effect, on the way to Jerusalem to give His life for us. Was Jesus holding out a spiritual means of taking a shortcut in the Galilean neighborhood? Hardly; of course not. Was He providing an astounding illustration that He is God, so we might more easily trust Him without any reservation in our hearts?
If that reaches our souls, during Lent or any time — if we poor sinners can understand and act on that — truly, that would be a miracle right there.
Click: On the Sea of Galilee
This Gospel song was written by the Carter Family and is performed simply and compellingly by Emmylou Harris and the amazing harmonies of the young Peasall Sisters. The images — Jesus walking on water; Jesus reaching out to you and me; the Sea of Galilee — are from the excellent Beanscot Channel on YouTube.