Matthew 14:22-33 – The 9th Sunday of Ordinary Time â€“ for August 10, 2014
â€œ. . . and beginning to sink, he cried out, â€˜Lord, save me!â€™â€ (Matthew 14:30)
Jesus walked on water*.
Yes or no? Fact or fiction?
- Itâ€™s in the Bible, so it must be true that Jesus performed miracles and ignored the laws of nature. Therefore, Jesus strode across the lake.
- The believers who wrote the Gospels wanted to demonstrate Jesusâ€™s superiority over Roman power. Therefore, his water-walk was a metaphoric response to imperial arrogance.
- People in the ancient world of Jesus experienced the world differently than we moderns. For example, a storm destroying crops could be Godâ€™s anger at a person/village. Thus, it canâ€™t be affirmed or denied that Jesus performed miracles since he lived in a superstitious, pre-scientific era.
Which would you choose? Or what fourth explanation might you add to explain your faithful response to the Gospel accounts of Jesusâ€™s liquid stroll?
Walking on waterâ€™s not so hard during the right season. Give me a frozen stream or a snowy meadow and Iâ€™ll risk crossing to the other side. But Matthewâ€™s story of Jesusâ€™s miracle didnâ€™t occur in a Wisconsin winter.
I recall a seminary professor who offhandedly pondered the preposition in the sentence, Jesus walked on water. A preposition like â€œonâ€ is a (says Merriam-Webster) â€œfunction word that typically combines with a noun phraseâ€ to express a â€œmodification.â€ Ah, a modifier! That which changes! In the original Greek, the word on in the Matthew 14:25 sentence was epi. (Epi begins the word epidermis, or on the skin.) And yet, if you check a Greek-English dictionaryâ€”a tome Iâ€™ve resisted opening when I stopped regularly preachingâ€”youâ€™ll find multiple meanings for the simple three-letter Greek preposition. Epi appears in sentences not only as â€œon,â€ but as â€œuponâ€ or â€œnearâ€ or â€œby.â€ Therefore my seminary professor mused, what if the sentence â€œJesus walked on waterâ€ was translated instead, Jesus walked near water? Or by water?
Do you buy that? Continue reading →