AN EXPOSITION OF MATTHEW14:22-33

Be of Good Cheer

22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.

Immediately after the food was served, and the people were satisfied, Jesus compelled His disciples to get into a boat and move to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. The word constrained has the idea of force. In the Gospel of John, the reason is given why Jesus had to insist that His disciples move across the Sea of Galilee. When the multitudes witness the mighty miracle of the five loaves and two fish feeding so many, they cried out, “This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world” (John 6:14). The people understood that Jesus was more than an ordinary man, He was the Messiah. Jesus perceived that the people would come and take Him by force, to make Him a king (John 6:15). But that could not happen, because, before His exaltation, there was the Cross. Jesus knew His work was not yet done. He had come to seek and to save the lost, and that necessitated Calvary.

23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.

Jesus Prayed…

at His baptism                                     Luke 3:21-22
before going to Galilee                       Mark 1:35, 36
after healing individuals                     Luke 5:16
before choosing His disciples             Luke 6:12, 13
while speaking to leaders                    Matthew11:25, 26
before feeding five thousand              Matthew 14:19
before walking on water                     Matthew 14:23
while healing a deaf man                    Mark 7:31-37
before feeding four thousand             Matthew 15:36
alone                                                    Luke 9:18
at the Transfiguration                          Luke 9:28, 29
when the seventy returned                  Luke 10:21
to teach His disciples                          Luke 11:1
to ask the Father for glory                   John 12:27,28
at the Last Supper                               Matthew 26:26
for Peter                                              Luke 22:31,32
for His people                                     John 17:1-26
in Gethsemane                                    Matthew 26:36-46
on the Cross                                        Luke 23:34
in agony                                              Matthew 27:46
for His crucifiers                                 Luke 23:34
before His last breath                          Luke 23:46
after His resurrection                          Luke 24:30
prior to His Ascension                        Luke 24:50-53

Jesus knew the importance of prayer. Christians must come to value prayer as well, for in prayer the spirit of man can touch the spirit of God. When you pray, show respect to the Father. Give Him thanks for the good things He has done. When you pray, submit to His will in all matters in life. When you pray let your petitions be made known. When you pray, confess all sin, and seek divine forgiveness. When you pray, give all praise and honor to the Father. Pray often.

“Take time to be holy,
speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always,
and feed on His Word.
Make friends of God’s children,
help those who are weak,
Forgetting in nothing,
His blessing to seek.”

William D. Longstaff

24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.

It was common for cool winds blowing from the Northwest, down through the wadis, to mix with the hot air over the Sea of Galilee, thereby causing the water to churn to such an extend that seasoned fishermen became alarmed. That is what happened this night.

25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.

The general time for this event would not be forgotten. It took place between three o’clock in the morning to six o’clock in the morning. Remarkable events tend to be engraved in memory. Many people can remember the time, date, and where they were when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas. The president was pronounced dead at 1:00 pm, Eastern Standard Time. In the years to come the disciples remembered the night Jesus came to them, walking on the water.

26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.

The word for troubled is inadequate to describe what happened in the hearts of the disciples. So is the word, cried. When the disciples saw an apparition walking towards them on the water they were terrified, and they shrieked out in fear.

27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.

When the disciples were most afraid, Jesus spoke to them words of great comfort saying, “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” It is the will of the Lord that His people live life without needless drama or trauma. So much of the fears we feel in life are self-induced, and totally unnecessary. The presence of Jesus is designed to calm fears so that our hearts are not troubled by danger, or even death.

Be of good cheer because…

sins are forgiven Matthew 9:2
faith can heal Matthew 9:22
Christ is present      Matthew 14:27
Jesus is calling        Mark 10:40

Christ has overcome the world John 16:33

of the opportunity to be a witness Acts 23:11

28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if [since] it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.

It was Peter who first found his voice, and impulsively called out to Jesus, by faith, “Lord, since it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” It was a remarkable statement, but it pleased the Lord. There might have been a delightful smile on the face of Jesus as He responded to this spontaneous request.

29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.

Unlike many people, Peter followed up on his impetuous request. He put his leg over the gunwale of the boat and stepped down to walk on top of the water of the Sea of Galilee. Though the waves were a boiling caldron around him, Peter walked on the water. For one brief shining moment, Peter had enough faith to do the impossible.

So much of the Christian life has been reduced, in modern days, to the possible. “Thou shalt not smoke.” “Thou shalt not drink.” “Thou shalt not go to the movies, or the theater.” “Thou shalt not dance.” “Thou shalt not wear makeup.” “Thou shalt not watch football on Sunday.” There is much legalism in Christendom. These negatives are done in the name of having high standards. The end result is often the same. They lead to pride in self because they involve what the flesh can do in and of itself. Legalism also invites the unconverted to imitate the life of Christ. The real question for the Christian is this: “Do you have enough faith to do the impossible?” “Have you heard Jesus respond to your faith by saying, ‘Come’”?

The supernatural Christian life is that life that turns a schemer such as Jacob in Israel, a prince of God. John, the son of thunder becomes the apostle of love, and Saul of Tarsus is transformed into the apostle Paul. The Christian life is a life of redeeming grace. It is a life that is lived in the Spirit, to the glory of God.

30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

When Peter saw Jesus, he was filled with confidence. When Peter saw the power of the wind, and the churning of the water, he became afraid. The challenge for every Christian is to focus on Christ, and the promises of God, regardless of the circumstances of life.

31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

The great faith Peter initially had, rapidly subsided, until Jesus said his faith had become very little. The reason for Peter’s little faith was self-produced doubt. Peter wavered over his call. He wavered whether the Lord had commanded him to come, and he wavered over the power of Jesus to sustain him while he was on the water. So, Peter began to sink to what he thought would be a watery grave. Though Jesus had tarried to go to the disciples when the storm first arose, His delay was not a denial. Sometimes the Lord seems to move slowly in responding to a situation, but it is because the time is not right. When the time is right, when the need is greatest, the Lord moves quickly. Suddenly, Peter needed Jesus as never before, “and immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand to help.”

“In loving-kindness Jesus came,
My soul in mercy to reclaim,
And from the depths of sin and shame
Through grace He lifted me.”

Charles H. Gabriel

32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.

The Gospel of John tells us that this miracle, and it was a miracle, took place during Passover. When the Passover was being observed, the Jews would read and quote many Scriptures, some of which spoke of God as ruling over the waters. For example, there is Psalm 29:10 which says, “The LORD sitteth upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth King forever.” Jesus, as God incarnate was the Ruler of the water in the Sea of Galilee thereby confirming His deity, and His Messiahship. Jesus said, “It is I,” which in the Greek is, ego eimi, which is equivalent to saying, “I AM HE,” the same expression the LORD used when revealing Himself to Moses. Jesus is Jehovah.

33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

Jesus received the worship of the disciples for the Holy Spirit had illuminated their hearts, leading them to say, “Thou art the Son of God.” Holy angles refuse to be worshipped (Rev. 22:8-9), and rightly so, for only God is to be worshipped (Ex. 20:1-5). But here, there is an affirmation of the divinity of Jesus. Though true humanity, Jesus is very God of very God. The Man who prayed is the Son of God.

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