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When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, got into a boat, and started across the lake to Capernaum. It was now dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The lake became rough because a strong wind was blowing. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the lake and coming near the boat, and they were terrified. But he said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid.’ Then they wanted to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the land towards which they were going.
They saw Jesus walking on the lake and coming near the boat, and they were terrified.
I hate horror films! When I am in need of relaxation, I do not want to be scared or repulsed. I know that some people love such things, but they are definitely not for me. I like a good whodunnit, or even a classic spy thriller, something which gives me an intellectual puzzle to wrestle with, but I absolutely do not like the ‘terror’ that horror films set out to engender in their audiences.
When I think about my antipathy to this popular genre of films, I realize that it is rooted in my inability to anticipate what might happen next. Because of the fantastical nature of horror films there are no benchmarks by which the viewer can predict the next scene … literally ‘anything goes’. I wonder if that is the sort of terror that the disciples experienced as they saw Jesus walking on the lake and coming near the boat?
The disciples had witnessed Jesus’ miraculous signs before, but this one was different. Some of the disciples were fishermen, which meant that they understood the nature of the water. They knew how quickly the calm of the inland sea could turn on them. They knew that only good seamanship, good luck and prayer could save a small boat being tossed about in the midst of a raging storm. They knew that no one could walk on that water … whether calm or storm-tossed. In the light of all that knowledge, we should not be surprised at the terror of the disciples when they saw Jesus walking towards them.
Of course, the terror of the disciples was not the same as the terror of the cinema-goer. The horror film devotee knows that the only peace that they will ever know will be granted to them by the creative minds of the script-writer and the director. The disciples were in a very different place. The terror they experienced was rooted in their not understanding just how powerful Jesus was. The terror experienced by the disciples could be soothed in an instant if they could only recognize and acknowledge the power of their Lord.
Too often we experience feelings of terror, even if we wouldn’t use that word, as we go about our daily lives. We become confused and disorientated as we are confronted with the unexpected and the scary. We may never fully understand that which brings on such feelings, but we can be certain that there is one who will alleviate that terror and will hold us in his loving embrace … Jesus Christ, our risen Lord and Saviour.
Let us pray that we might never forget the Son of God who walks with us through both the sad and the joyful, the challenging and the comfortable, the soothing and terrifying moments of our lives. Let us pray that we might always lay our fears at his feet and trust in his love for us every moment of every day.