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Matthew 14:27, 30-31

Matthew 14:27, 30-31
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Matthew 14:27, 30-31, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” … “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Jesus immediately reached out His hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?'”

This section of Matthew is a familiar one. Many of us likely became acquainted with it through flannel-graphs during Sunday school. But today I noticed something in it that freshly caught my attention, namely the connection between fear and doubt.

Verse 30 tells us that Peter was afraid, but in verse 31 Jesus rebukes Peter for His doubt. This is just a reminder of the intimate connection between these two experiences, and the connection is made even more pronounced when we take into account Jesus’ introductory words in verse 27, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

With these words, Jesus echoes the self-revelation of YHWH to Moses in Exodus 3 (I Am Who I Am). In essence, He is anchoring the fearlessness of the disciples to His identity and existence, “I Am–so do not fear.” This means that when Peter succumbs to the grip of fear, he is also succumbing to doubt concerning the sufficiency, authority, and character of Jesus.

According to these verses, we might say that fear is what happens to a disciple of Christ when they believe a lie about their Lord (since doubt of one thing is really belief in another…doubt toward Jesus–and thus being afraid–is belief in something false about Jesus)….Fear comes  when we look away from His unbounded sovereign authority, when we look away from His lion-like ferocity for our good and His lamb-like tenderness toward out sorrows, and when we look away from His self-giving, wrath-absorbing love on Calvary….when we look away from Him and toward something else….and begin to believe Jesus is not who He says and shows Himself to be–then we begin to fear.

Fearful situations are ahead for each of us….and when they descend, may our Storm-Stilling Shepherd give us grace to look Him full in the face, to trust wholly in the Name of God made known in Him, and so to “take heart” because Jesus is–and we are His.