Focus Peter

January 15, 2017    Matthew 14: 22 – 36   Focus 


   It has been said that the main thing in life is to keep the main thing the main thing.  I suppose sometimes we do not know what the main thing is.  There seems to be many main things every day.  We go from one thing to the next as someone lamented so much to do and so little time to do it in. 

    I think this is a very well known passage for us today as I have mentioned it in perhaps a number of sermons but the last time I preached a whole message on this passage was in November 2002.  It is time for us to consider this passage again.  Jesus in this passage sends his disciples out in a boat.  Jesus dismisses the crowd.  It seems that Jesus dismisses the crowd because they want to make Jesus King.  It may be late in the day so he sends them away.  Jesus goes to spend time in prayer with the Father.   As I thought about this passage in light of focus I thought about Jesus.   Jesus was always focused.  I think that all of us believe that Jesus always stayed focused.  That is a pretty amazing feat.  Jesus life was certainly busy.  There was a lot going on around him and we could believe that Jesus life was not simple. 

.   It is quite a feat today to set a meeting to preach to thousands of people. There is food and communication.   I do not think it was easy in those days either.  Some of these events in Jesus life just happened.  We see Jesus feeding thousands of people and he had the disciples sit them down in groups of 50 and Jesus had the disciples feed them.  In Matthew 14 just above where we read today Jesus fed 5,000 men and women and children.  The disciples were to have the people sit down.  I wonder if the disciples recruited help to carry the food to 5,000 people.   Think about feeding 5,000 people even if all the food is cooked. 

     It may seem that things were simple for Jesus but maybe not as simple as we think.  Jesus stayed focused.    Because Jesus was focused I would say that life was simple at least in a way.  Can a person be busy yet lead a simple focused  life?   Is a simple life possible today?   There was one thing that Jesus did that kept him focused.   What do you think that was?   We see in this passage that Jesus spent some time in prayer.  In John 5 Jesus said my Father is always working and I am working.  Later in that passage in John 5 Jesus said the son meaning himself can do nothing by himself but Jesus always did what he saw the father doing.  Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.

   Jesus always followed the Father and always obeyed the father.  I think Jesus stayed focused because he was always seeing what God was doing.   Jesus was always checking in.  Jesus did not go brain dead for periods of time.  Father what do you want?  Father what are you doing?  Father what do you want me to do?   Father I can’t do this by myself.  I need you Father to help me walk.  I need you Father to be with me as I eat.  There was a complete dependence between Jesus the son while he was on earth and the Father in heaven.  I like one of the contemporary songs which say Jesus always did what he saw the father do.  That part of the contemporary song comes right out of John 5.  It is scriptural and biblical. 

   There is a story involving Yogi Berra, the well-known catcher for the New York Yankees, and Hank Aaron, who at that time was the chief power hitter for the Milwaukee Braves.   The teams were playing in the World Series, and as usual Yogi was keeping up his ceaseless chatter, intended to pep up his teammates on the one hand, and distract the Milwaukee batters on the other.   As Aaron came to the plate, Yogi tried to distract him by saying, "Henry, you’re holding the bat wrong.   You’re supposed to hold it so you can read the trademark." Aaron didn’t say anything but, when the next pitch came, he hit it into the left-field bleachers.  After rounding the bases and tagging up at home plate, Aaron looked at Yogi Berra and said, "I didn’t come up here to read."  

   There are many people today who are not focused.  They are just living their life day by day.  Many just wait to see what another day is going to bring their way.  They do not have a plan.  Many like it that way.  Many just waiting for the next weekend to come and watch their favorite football team or the next episode of whatever show it is.  People tend to not like change and many of them are comfortable with their life as it is.  People that are focused do not have a lot of time to spend with them. Life has a way sometimes of narrowing focus.  Good parents are focused on their children. 

    Scripture tells us that Jesus did not commit himself to them because he knew what was in the heart of man.  Jesus was focused on the father.  Sometimes Jesus was healing people.   Sometimes he was teaching, eating, and traveling.   Jesus went to at least one wedding but in the middle of all of that he was connected to the father.  Jesus remained focused.  This one thing that Jesus did even though the many books could not contain all that Jesus did. 

    Jesus in the night goes out to his disciples.  The gospel of Mark and John also talk about Jesus going to his disciples.  The disciples are in a storm.  It is storming in the sea.  .Jesus sent them into that storm.  Storms can be for correction but they also can be for our growth.  Jesus leaves his time of prayer alone out in the hills to go to the disciples.  Jesus probably prayed for them as he traveled to them.  We are reminded that Jesus is still praying for us today.  Jesus is seated at the right hand of the father in heaven but his work is not done yet.  Jesus is praying for you.  You have not escaped his sight.  You are on Jesus heart and Jesus is bringing you before the father.  As the Lord came to the disciples in their storm Jesus will come to you in your storm.  We must be sure and careful to focus on him or we may miss him.   The storm is easier when you know who is in the storm with you.  

    Jesus walks out on the water.   The disciples saw Jesus coming to them and they thought he was a ghost.  They were terrified.  Why did Jesus walk on the water?   The storm scared the disciples at times.  The thing that they feared was the avenue that Jesus used to come to them.   Jesus showed them his power.  Jesus spoke to their faith. Nothing is too hard for God.  Well we are reminded that God’s presence will be terrifying for many at the judgment day.   Jesus calms them right away.  Why did they think he was a ghost?   Why did they not recognize Jesus?   They were not looking for Jesus.  Jesus was not their focus.  Their focus was often like our focus when we are in a storm.  They saw the storm and they made a false conclusion.   It must be a ghost.  Fear can drive faith far from a person.  They forgot to look for Jesus in the storm.  It is easy to do.  The purpose of the storm was to help them grow.  It is not meant to sink us.   I remember I used to say to some and your submarine has screen doors on it.

   Peter’s focus   Call? Transfigured? Rebuked Jesus? Garden? Denial?  Fished?   Peter said Lord if it is really you let me come out on the water also and Jesus said come.  I am amazed at how often Jesus let people make choices. Hey Peter if you really want to do this go for it.  Jesus allowed Peter his request.  Jesus let the demons go into the pigs.  When you read in the gospels look for those situations where Jesus granted the request of the person.  It happened over and over again when Jesus answered the request for healing. 

     A lot of folks have been critical of Peter when he took his eyes off Jesus and started to sink.  But let’s be reminded that Peter was the only one who wanted to get out of the boat.  If you want to walk on water you have to get out of the boat.  When you step out of the boat for Jesus you most likely are stepping into a storm.   It is when you step out of the boat that you learn of God’s power.  God can sustain me in this storm. 

    Most people chose to stay in the boat.   There are issues with staying in the boat.   That boat can become your safe place.   Your boat whatever it is can become comfortable.   That boat can become a prison.  You can be enslaved in that boat.  You can live in the past in that boat.   Well we have always done it this way.  We can become entombed in the past.  People can live on yesterday’s memories.  God does not want the Christian imprisoned in the boat.   We are to be free.  We are to grow and move ahead with God’s presence.  

     The bible is clear that Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water.  He did not quite make it to Jesus and then begins to sink.  You have to love his prayer.  Lord save me.  That prayer is expressed from the heart and it is a fervent prayer.  God hears the fervent prayer of a righteous person.   What a beautiful thing that happens.  Jesus reaches out his hand to Peter and grabs him.  When you pray like Peter prayed in this passage picture Jesus reaching out his hand to answer your prayer.  Peter saw the wind and was afraid.  Peter’s focus shifts to the wind.  Peter’s focus shifts from Jesus to the wind.   He focuses on the storm and he begins to sink.  We tend to look at the trial, the trouble, everything in the world that is against us and we begin to sink and by God’s grace we come to our senses and pray fervently Lord save me.  Then we soar on wings like the eagles.

    Chuck Swindoll shares from Dropping Your Guard.  It was Flight 401 bound for Miami from New York City with a load of holiday passengers. As the huge aircraft approached the Miami Airport for its landing, a light that indicates proper deployment of the landing gear failed to come on. The plane flew in a large, looping circle over the swamps of the Everglades while the cockpit crew checked out the light failure.   Their question was this, had the landing gear actually not deployed or was it just the light bulb that was defective?

    To begin with, the flight engineer fiddled with the bulb. He tried to remove it, but it wouldn’t budge. Another member of the crew tried to help out … and then another. By and by, if you can believe it, all eyes were on the little light bulb that refused to be dislodged from its socket.   No one noticed that the plane was losing altitude.   Finally, it dropped right into a swamp.  Many were killed in that plane crash.   While an experienced crew of high-priced and seasoned pilots messed around with a seventy-five-cent light bulb, an entire airplane and many of its passengers were lost.  The crew momentarily forgot the most basic of all rules of the air-"Don’t forget to fly the airplane!"

     Focus is so important.  Jesus is our life.  The only real life and blessing that we can give to one another is Jesus.  Parents point your children to Jesus.  How can they live in this world without Jesus?   Jesus was always focused on the Father.   Life for him was simple.   I did not say easy but it was simple.  Jesus did a lot of things but his eyes were on the Father.  .