What We Miss | Matthew 14:22-33
They weren’t meant to see. At least that is what Mark claimed in his Gospel, and he told the story first — “He intended to pass them by.” (Mark 6:48b)
The tale of Jesus walking on the water is told in Mark, Matthew and John. Luke skipped it, who knows why. Mark plainly says that Jesus was not performing for the benefit of the group in the boat. He intended to pass them by. They weren’t even meant to see.
Mark left out the part about Peter nearly drowning. If tradition is correct and Mark was Peter’s disciple, writing from the recollections of that elder disciple, then we may well understand why Peter’s plunge into the water was left out.
Matthew gives us Peter in all his failure, but he doesn’t point out that Jesus never intended any of them to see him. Perhaps it is better to put it another way and say that Jesus was not trying to get their attention. If they saw him, then they saw him. If not, they would be missing a fine show.
Not everything God does is for our benefit. The universe does not center on us. If Shakespeare was right and the world’s a stage, then we might remember that we are in the play, not the audience. It is a fine show, but we are just part of it.
Worship is not entertainment. This is not the God Show, or if it is, we are only peeking around the curtains. We are not ushered to front row seats and given popcorn.
We might want to keep our eyes open, though. Even if God is not performing for our entertainment, there are still amazing things on this stage. There are people who surprise us, sunsets and turkeys and squirrels and rain. There are children who tell us the truth. There are adults who might be more polite, or afraid, or disinterested, and who refrain from doing so.
Every day is full of things we do not expect to see, and will not, if we do not open our eyes. There is what we hear and see, and there are the things we know in our hearts. All of them require a certain amount of attention.
Otherwise we are like that bunch of disciples sitting in the boat. All they saw in the night was the storm and the sea and the water filling the bottom of the boat. They never saw what God was doing until they lifted their eyes to look.
They could have missed it. God, who is funny that way, would have let them.
On the other hand, Jesus didn’t really have to go walking out there on the water in the first place, did he? With all of the astonishing things these men and women who followed Jesus did see, it makes us wonder what else they might have missed.
It makes me wonder what we may be missing.