Confessions of a Questioning Christian

Posts Tagged ‘walk on water

The Death of John the Baptist

1 At that time Herod the tetrarch heard about the fame of Jesus, 2 and he said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” 3 For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife,[a] 4 because John had been saying to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” 5 And though he wanted to put him to death, he feared the people, because they held him to be a prophet. 6 But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company and pleased Herod, 7 so that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask. 8 Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.” 9 And the king was sorry, but because of his oaths and his guests he commanded it to be given. 10 He sent and had John beheaded in the prison, 11 and his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. 12 And his disciples came and took the body and buried it, and they went and told Jesus.

So both the Bible and Josephus give reasons for why Herod put John in jail. One was because John called Herod out on his incestuous marriage; another reason was that the old fear of the Jewish Messiah showing up and rebelling against him seized him with fear.

Quick side note: growing up, my parents always asked my brother and I what we learned in Sunday School after church. I was a serious goody-two-shoes and usually articulated not only what I learned, but what the teacher had gotten wrong. My brother, on the other hand, usually had one line replies that generally matched the little subtitles of a chapter: “Jesus fed the five thousand,” or “Jesus healed some people.”

For about a month one year, my brother came back every week saying “John the Baptist got his head cut off.” The first two weeks that happened, my parents nodded and moved on. But after the third and fourth time, my mom started to suspect something was up. I mean, who teaches third graders about John the Baptist getting his head cut off for over a month? After the fifth week, my mom called my brother’s Sunday School teacher and asked what as up. The answer? She HAD taught that lesson – five weeks ago. That was the last time my brother had come to Sunday School.

The sixth week my mom surreptitiously followed my brother after church to see where he was heading off to instead of Sunday School. Our church is located out in the country, and there is a separate building called The Annex where many of the children have Sunday School classes. My brother headed off to The Annex, as he should have. However, instead of going in, he walked to the soda machine that stood on the porch. He looked around, popped his offering money into the machine, retrieved a can of soda, and squeezed between the back of the machine and the outer wal of the building. He sat there nursing the soda in solitude until his friends came back outside forty minutes later.

On the way home, my mom asked my brother what he learned that day. “John the Baptist got his head cut off,” he replied, looking out the window. My mom confronted my brother, who quickly burst into tears. I guess he had been so traumatized by John getting his head cut off that he has resolved not to go back. My mom told him that John was in heaven now, and his Sunday School class hadn’t talked about John for over a month. My dad had to walk my brother to class the next week.

Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand

13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Even when Jesus is sad, he has space in his heart to take care of others. I want to be more like that.

Jesus Walks on the Water

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was a long way[b] from the land,[c] beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 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. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind,[d] he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

I’m sure it won’t surprise you that my brother loved this story. I also did. I spent at least a few minutes every summer at church camp trying to summon the faith to walk on the water. I guess I failed. I want to tell you that I think the disciples are being stupid again, but if I was in a choppy sea in the middle of the night and a figure was coming toward me on the water, I think I’d flip out, too. I’m glad Jesus doesn’t yell at them for that – he’s pretty kind. It’s not until Peter loses his faith right there in front of Jesus that Jesus scolds him.

Jesus Heals the Sick in Gennesaret

34 And when they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. 35 And when the men of that place recognized him, they sent around to all that region and brought to him all who were sick 36 and implored him that they might only touch the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.

Jesus  is so cool.

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