Wave Walking

I remember as an Anglican priest being astonished to discover that the story of Jesus walking on the water had been omitted from the Sunday lectionary. The CofE may have put it back in the meantime, but I learned that it was omitted because the story was simply too incredible for modern people to believe. (By the way, the distortion of the faith through the distortion of liturgy within the Anglican Church is a topic that has been much ignored…when I was an Anglican they were doing all sorts of weird things to promote their modernist agenda within and through the manipulation of the lectionary, the prayer book, ‘alternative liturgies’,  the lists of saints etc. but that’s another topic altogether…)

What has always amused me about this blatant historicism is the idea that first century people really had no problem believing the story, or for that matter, for the first nineteen centuries of the church people were so dumb that they thought walking on the water was pretty easy to believe, but suddenly now in the twenty and twenty first centuries we modern people know so much more that we know such things don’t happen.

The other thing that is extremely dumb about the modernists is that the story of Jesus walking on the water comes in Matthew’s gospel right after the feeding of the 5,000. So they take the feeding of the 5,000 and downgrade it by saying “isn’t it wonderful that the example of the little boy sharing his lunch prompted everyone else to share theirs too!” But they can’t really find any way of explaining away the miracle of Jesus walking on the water so they just cut it out altogether. “We now know that such a thing could never have happened, and it will make it so difficult for non-Christians to accept the faith, so perhaps it would be best if we were to simply leave it out of the lectionary–the way we did with that psalm that talks about bashing babies heads against the rocks…”

Furthermore, the modernists love to ‘de-mythologize’ the miracle stories and try to suck out the theological truth but leave the historical aspect on one side as something ‘unbelievable to modern people’. I am all for pulling out the theological aspect of the gospel stories, but even that aspect of the story of Jesus walking on the water is ignored by the modernists. Why, do you think, when one of their hobbies is pulling out the theological meaning, do they ignore the theological meaning of Jesus walking on the water?

Here’s why: because Jesus walking in the water is a direct fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies that reveal Jesus to be the Son of God. Consider Psalm 77:

I will consider all your works
   and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
 13 Your ways, God, are holy.
   What god is as great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles;
   you display your power among the peoples.
15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
   the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.
 16 The waters saw you, God,
   the waters saw you and writhed;
   the very depths were convulsed.
17 The clouds poured down water,
   the heavens resounded with thunder;
   your arrows flashed back and forth.
18 Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
   your lightning lit up the world;
   the earth trembled and quaked.
19 Your path led through the sea,
   your way through the mighty waters,
   though your footprints were not seen.

Or consider Isaiah 43

 I am the LORD, your Holy One, 
   Israel’s Creator, your King.”
 16 This is what the LORD says—
   he who made a way through the sea,
   a path through the mighty waters,

In the Old Testament the Lord God Creator was the one who had mastery over the chaos of the deep. In the creation story he separated the waters above and the waters below. He commanded the flood through which Noah was saved, he opened the waters of the Red Sea to bring the children out of slavery into the promised land. These Old Testament passages from Isaiah and the Psalms reveal the Lord to be the Master of creation, and Christ through both the miracle of the Feeding of the 5,000 and walking on the water reveals himself to be the Creator God.

That this is so is unlocked in the final words of the story: “Those who were in the boat said, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’” Suddenly the whole thing is very clear–the stories of Jesus feeding the 5,000 and walking on the water are put together by Matthew in the same chapter for a reason. The reason is to attest to the true identity of our Lord as the Son of God.

The disciples saw the miracles and believed that he was the Son of God. If you reject the miracles can you still accept that Jesus is the Son of God? I don’t think so. I think we are to accept the smaller miracles in order to be directed to the great miracle which is the Incarnation of the Son of God of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

This shows us the ultimate heresy of the modernists. We thought it was just a dumb and cowardly thing to explain away the miracles. We might have been inclined to excuse it because they were weak in the faith and perhaps a bit embarrassed in front of their intellectual colleagues. But it’s more important than that. In denying the miracles of Christ, they also deny the great miracle, and it is no co-incidence that the same modernist theologians and Bible scholars who deny the miracle of the feeding of the 5000 and seek to eliminate the miracle of Christ walking on the water also go on to deny his divinity.

When is the rest of the Christian church going to wake up and realize that these scholars are not just finding miracles a bit hard to believe–they are actually denying the essential truths of the Christian faith.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10705270251238023966 Quanah

    Great post, Father. Thank you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02082723705687057148 justamouse

    The truth of that scripture hit me yesterday, too. That His walking on water wasn't a tale, it was real, witness by many people and written so that we would know. How amazing. I'm still trying to digest it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10503510474554718305 Just another mad Catholic

    At Downside last year another Priest who was an ex anglican talked about how at an anglican retreat the mondernsists tried to appeal to the laws of physics to say that it couldn't happen. He then replied that as God Jesus could suspend the laws of physiscs of which he was the author.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10697706672495544901 Catholic Bibliophagist

    I have no problem believing that Our Lord walked on water. What I've always found puzzling is Peter's response. I mean the apostles think that they are seeing a ghost. And Peter's going to prove it one way or the other by saying, "Hey, if that's really you, command me to walk over to you" ? Didn't it occur to Peter that a ghost or a demon might very well say "C'mon"?Unless there's some meaning in the original language which doesn't come across in the English word "command." What am I missing here?As I say, no problem with the truth of the event or the lesson implicit in Peter's sinking. I just feel like I'm missing a nuance or something.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16213841528077465387 theresa EH

    Hmmm,,,,perhaps this is one of the many reasons that the Anglican's are swimming the Tiber eh!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06962374096401238994 shadowlands

    theresa said:"Hmmm,,,,perhaps this is one of the many reasons that the Anglican's are swimming the Tiber eh!"Hahaha! They walked right into that one!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14488939389859451887 Chatto

    @ Catholic Bibliophagist – that's a great question! Below is a link to the most awesome collection of Bible commentaries (Aquinas' Catena Aurea, individual commentaries by Church Fathers, Lapide, etc):http://litteralchristianlibrary.wetpaint.com/page/Bible+Commentaries-Fathers+and+DoctorsVery briefly, Lapide notes that Calvin accused St. Peter of doubt, and that a demon/ghost might play such a trick as you suggest. Lapide answers that the Fathers don't necessarily take the 'if' to equal doubt – they rather emphasised the second half of St. Peter's statement; "command me to come to you…". Lapide says, "it is not the voice of doubt, but of one exulting with joy, and desiring to come quickly to Christ, that he might be near to Him whom he loved above all things."Even if it is the voice of an initial doubt, though, "He asked of Christ both internal and external tokens of security [i.e. the command of Christ, and his ability to walk to Him across the water], which should exclude all doubt from his soul, and Christ gave him those tokens, when he said, Come. By these tokens was Peter sure that it was the voice of Christ, and not of a phantom or a demon." This was confirmed when he felt the sea beneath his feet not give way, but that he was able to walk upon it.Check out the rest for yourself, and spread this resource around! Sacred Scripture and Tradition together – it doesn't get better than that.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05118747216132040457 Ismael

    Actually the 'sharing theory' about the 'feeding of 5000' (plus women and children) is somewhat illogical:1- The apostles are worried there is not enough food2- They collect at the end 12 baskets full of food…The second point strongly indicates it was not ' mere sharing' at all… since there is actually a surplus (and when people share with people who do not have food usually there is NO surplus…)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14734120133883377648 Howard

    Great post. As for the modernists…. A few years ago, a friend tried to convince me that Jesus was just walking on a sand bank. Let's see: a carpenter walks on a sandbank, at night, while a contrary wind tosses the sea with waves. Fishermen, who spend their whole lives on the water, completely misunderstand this non-miraculous feat. Yeah, that's an easy one to swallow. I told him to call the story a lie if he thought it was a lie, but not to bother with a naturalistic explanation that just couldn't work.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12858120820470784593 Anneg

    Love the icon, Father, and loved the post.We say Psalm 77 in one of the morning prayer offices (can't remember which day) but I never saw the connection with Jesus as Creator. Thank you. Great meditation.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02487748842744745860 StevieD

    There is an apochryphal story about Pilate returning to Rome after his service in Judea and reporting to the Emporer who asked if it were true that he had executed a man who could raise the dead and heal all manner of illnesses. Pilate agreed that this was the case and was executed on the spot. It may be uncharitable but I can't help hoping that the story/rumour is true.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17638799349745874062 Tracy

    Great post! reminds me of the quote from Chesterson about Jesus doing miracles that were small local examples of what God has been doing all along on a scale too grand for us to usually notice.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00657046440837419925 Thomas

    A reminder of the Maschall poem:"Hark the herald angels singBultmann is the latest thingBut they would if he had notDemythologized the lot."The Modernist struggle is still in progress. The closer you study Scripture, the more you will see its human truth, and its special signs.