Saturday, July 08, 2017

Fresh look at Matthew: Matthew 14:22-33


This narrative is just plain weird, from our standpoint.  I don’t think it’s meant to be normative in any way, since there are no other walking on water stories in the early church but there were healings and other miracles.  It happened, it is recorded by in three of the gospels (not Luke, interestingly), so someone would have called them on it if it were untrue.  Matthew doesn’t write this as “oh, there’s Jesus walking on water” and as if it was expected.  However, if we accept that 10,000 or more (probably many more) were fed that day, we find ourselves in the situation where we must accept this story, weird and physically impossible as it is.  But a virgin birth and a resurrection are weird and impossible, too.   

The Christian faith does not exist without faith in miracles, without God intruding in the natural order of things at times, and in an unmistakable way (and that is perhaps what makes the difference.)
Does Peter bring this up elsewhere?  Not that I can find.  He does make reference to some miracles in I and II Peter, but not this one.  Perhaps the resurrection was more important (theologically it was) and perhaps it was a little embarrassing. He had eleven other witnesses, if anyone wanted to ask them. 

We overuse the word "miracle" today, to refer to anything we don't see very often.  Birth is often called a miracle, but I can't think of anything less miraculous, since it's so common and physical.  It is wondrous when a child comes into the world, but it's an arduous process.  Sports teams that win when they are not expected to are called miracle workers.  Using the term this way means we won't see the real thing when it happens.   

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