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August 9th, 2020
Pastor Jenny Lee, Ph.D.
Upper St. Croix Parish UMC

Matthew 14:22-33
“Let Us Look to the Lord!”

You might have heard this joke about a taxi driver and a minister. They died on the same day. They stood before God to be judged. First, God asked a taxi driver, “Where did you work?” The taxi driver answered, “I worked in New York City.” God looked at the record and said, “Okay, go to heaven through the golden way.” The minister heard God’s judgment for the taxi driver and expected to get more pride than the taxi driver standing before God. God did not ask him anything but looked at the record and said, “Go to hell.” The minister was shocked and said to God, “I think something is wrong. I was a minister. I worked hard for your people. How could you judge the taxi driver and send him to heaven, and send me to hell?” God answered him, “Well, I judge by the result. The taxi driver made people pray while he was driving, but you made people fall asleep while you were preaching.”

It is a joke, but I have the confidence to go to heaven according to the joke. I had an American mother who took care of me. She passed away last year. She used to say to me, “When I go to the church, I pray for my pastor and my ears to listen to the sermon well.” I understood what she meant by that. Her age was 94, and her pastor’s second language was English like me. So, I have the confidence to go to heaven because I made you pray. As did my mom, you may pray for me instead of sleeping.

A minister is a person who points to the Lord our God like a road sign. I want to point to the Lord Jesus Christ. “Let us look to our Lord Jesus Christ.” While Jesus was ministering on earth, he used to pray between his ministries. In the scripture today, it happened right after Jesus did great

miraculous work as he fed five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish. As soon as he finished the feeding ministry, he sent his disciples in a hurry while he dismissed people. The scripture says, “Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat.” His disciples got into the boat already, but Jesus went to a mountain to pray.

Why did Jesus send his disciples to the sea before him? He might know his disciples would get trouble with the storm on the sea. Even though he knew it, he sent them to the sea. Sometimes God knows we will face trouble, but God sends us into the problem if we need to face the difficulties to grow in faith. We could not understand God, but we may trust in God. 2 Corinthians 5:7, says, “We live [walk] by faith, not by sight.” Christians do not live by sight in the situation but by faith, hoping that God’s promise comes true. God works supernaturally. One day suddenly, God makes things happen, which we could not make happen.

Moses got difficulties as soon as he was born. The king of Egypt ordered all Hebrew baby boys to be killed when they are born. So, Moses’ parents hid him for three months, but they could not protect him anymore. They put Moses in a box and put it on the Nile river. What is interesting is that the king’s daughter found it, and the king allowed her to raise Moses as her own son in the king’s palace (Exodus 2:1-10). We may wonder if the king who ordered all Hebrew baby boys to be killed does not know Moses is a Hebrew baby. But nobody questioned; nobody cared about it.

How do you understand? The enemies used the king to kill the leaders of the next generation of Israelites. But, God used the enemies’ plan to protect the leader Moses to save Israelites. If Moses was not in the king’s palace, he might have been killed. That’s the way God works. We cannot understand God’s work but just believe it. Sometimes God sends us into the trouble, but let us look to the Lord, not to the problem. God may deliver us to the next level beyond the issues, difficulties, worries, anxieties, and even COVID 19. Enemies do not bother us for the current

situation but bother us for our future. Do not give up. Just look to the Lord. God will help you. Jesus still prays for you and your family members.

In the scripture, Jesus sent his disciples to the sea, where the storm was soon coming. And Jesus went up the mountain by himself to pray in order to send them to the next level in faith. Jesus would be present to them as the living God. While Jesus was alone to pray, the boat was battered by waves on the sea as far from the land. Because the wind was against them, they might suffer. And then Jesus walked on the sea toward them. Imagine them. In fear and suffering from the wind and waves on the sea, they saw someone walking on the water. What did they think of him? They thought of him as a ghost. So, this added to their problems. Their situation got worse. But is it really getting worse for them? If they fix their eyes on the problem by sight, yes, it is getting worse. However, if they look to the Lord by faith, they might find Jesus coming to resolve the problem. Jesus immediately spoke to those who were in fear, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” The Greek for “it is I” reminds us of God’s word to Moses, “I AM” (Exodus 3:14), that is, I AM who I AM.” And Jesus stood there on the water, Sovereign of creation, saying, “I AM who I AM,” Lord in the storm. He was present as the living God.

Among the disciples, Peter answered Jesus, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Do you think Peter was crazy? How could he think of walking on the water like Jesus? He is passionate about being Christlike. He would be like Jesus. He would follow Jesus. That’s discipleship. Like Elisha, he asked his teacher Elijah to get double power than his teacher Elijah. Elijah said to him, “if you see God lift me up, you may get it.” So, Elisha looked to Elijah and followed him always until God lifts him up. Finally, he got double power (2King 2:1-14).

Like that, Peter was passionate about being Jesus’ disciple. Jesus said, “Come.” So, Peter got out of the boat without any hesitation and started walking on the water toward Jesus. As soon as Peter noticed the strong wind, he became frightened and beginning to sink. He cried out, “Lord,

save me!” Peter was passionate about being Christlike, but he was still weak in faith. However, remember, while Peter came out of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus, when he saw the strong wind, he got afraid and began to sink. So we have to look to the Lord, no matter what kind of situation we face. If we look to the Lord, God works for us beyond the problems we face.

Moreover, we have to remember when Peter cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him. Our Lord is always ready to reach out to us and catch our hands whenever we cry out to the Lord. If we are held by our Lord’s hand, no matter what kind of situation we face, everything will be done. As if when Jesus took them into the boat, the wind ceased. Finally, they worshiped Jesus, saying, “Truly, you are the son of God.” The disciples already confessed that Jesus is the son of God worshiping him before Peter confesses, “You are the Christ, the son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:16). Peter would keep it in his mind and confesses it later when Jesus asks him, “who do you say I am?”

Jesus’ disciples would be the leaders who transform into the world. So, they might experience many difficulties, which enemies bothered them. Like this, we are also Jesus’ disciples, who may face many difficulties. As much as we get difficulties, let us look to the Lord, not look to the difficult situation. Looking to the Lord, if we are walking toward our Lord, God makes things happen, which we could not make them happen. Do not be afraid! God is there. God is ready to hold us. Let us lift up our hearts and eyes and walk toward God no matter what kind of situation we face. Psalm 105:4 says, “Seek the Lord and his strength: seek his presence continually.” God is the living God. God works in the supernatural. Your long journey with difficulties will be made suddenly one day as if we will have a new day. Some day you would be the witness of God and what God has done for you. That is the discipleship as God wishes us. Let us look to the Lord and walk toward God so God may deliver us beyond the difficulties. Faith makes the impossible things possible. Let us live by faith, not by sight. Thanks be to God. Amen.