the fourth watch

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” [Matthew 14:22-27 ESV]

Ever wonder why Jesus sent his friends off and chose to be alone?
I think he needed to process his deep feelings of grief over the death of John the Baptist.
I wonder what his prayers looked like up on that mountain.

When my first wife died my prayers became a spiritual lifeline.
Mostly I prayed for strength for me and my kids.
I imagine that Jesus prayed similar prayers.

Somewhere between 3am and 6am Jesus comes to his disciples walking on water.
These had been struggling against the waves and the wind for some time.
Interesting that he could have come earlier but chose to let the disciples struggle.

Perhaps that is a sermon in miniature about the way that God works.
Maybe we have to exhaust all of our options before God shows up?
I wonder if Jesus would have prayed all night long if his friends did not need him.

The reactions of his friends are pretty predictable.
I too would have cried out in fear at the sight of someone walking towards me on the water.
Perhaps God is often unrecognizable in the way that he comes when we need him?

I love Jesus' compassionate reaction to their fear.
He doesn't chastise them for a lack of faith like he did on another occasion.
He simply comforts them telling them to take heart and not be afraid.

Help me to persevere in faith Lord knowing that the fourth watch is coming.

... this devotion is part of the Red Letters series. Click here to read more.

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