Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Matthew 14:22-33

This passage occurs in the Revised Common Lectionary, Year A, most recently August 13, 2017

Summary:  This passage provides wonderful image of faith:  so powerful, yet so fragile.  Faith can move mountains.  This is good news.  The better news is that Jesus comes to us amid the storm.  The best news, I think, is that Jesus lets us stay in the boat when we only have little faith. 

Key Words
απολυση (meaning "release", 14:22)   Jesus here "releases" the crowd.  Prior to the feeding of the 5,000, the disciples wanted Jesus to release the crowd.  Now that they have been fed, he is releasing them.  Also interesting is that now Jesus must compel (ηναγκασεν, from αναγκαζω) them to leave as well.

προσευξασθαι (meaning "to pray", 14:23)   The verb to "pray" is a middle voice verb.  Typically middle voice means the object and subject are the same, in that the subject is doing the verb to itself (for instance, shaving would be a good candidate in English for a middle voice verb!)  This would suggest that prayer involves some sort of movement, externally or internally, to prepare oneself for prayer.  I remember once I was invited "to assume the posture of prayer." 

βασανιζομενον (participle form of βασανιζω meaning "torment"; 14:24)  This word can even mean torture (as in the the beast is basanized at the end of Revelation)

θαρεσειτε (meaning "be of good cheer, 14:27)  I am fascinated by this.  Is Jesus here commanding faith?  Is it possible for the individual to suddenly turn one's disposition around?  I believe here that we are saved from this dilemma when we realize that the next words of Jesus to Peter are pure promise:  εγω ειμι.  "I am" says Jesus.  "I am" is not simple a declaration that Jesus is present, but that Jesus is God, for εγω ειμι is the same of God.  As Jesus says this, he reveals to Peter that he is indeed God and he is with Peter.  Without the promise of his presence and divinity, Jesus words to Peter would be cruel.  Why can Peter take courage?  Because Jesus is there with him, not because Peter needs to "get it together."

ει συ ει (meaning "since it is you", 14:28).  The word "ει" is often translated "if."  However, its translation is really governed by the tense of the verb to which it is linked.  If it is linked with a subjunctive tense verb, then it is building a hypothetical case; if it is linked with an indicative tense verb, then it is building a true case.  Here it is used with an indicative verb, meaning Peter believes it is a true condition: Since it is you, command me.  [In the case of A, which is a true scenario, then B; rather than: In the case of A, which may or may not be true, then B]

ολιγοπιστε (from ολιγ meaning "few" and πιστε meaning "faith", "of little faith", 14:33) A gracious reminder that we can still be in the boat with Jesus and only have a little faith.  Having lots of faith is not a requirement for journeying with Jesus.

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