Notes on the Gospel text for this Sunday.
What I’m thinking about:
- Mountain – links to “texts” of Moses, Elijah – presence of God (Jesus in prayer there)
- In the boat – symbol of the church? They are there at Jesus’ command, and yet not kept from danger there.
- Sea: the quintessential place of danger: from Poseidon and Neptune, to the Canaanite god of the “sea” or yam, to the ancient view of the universe in which the earth was a flat disk sitting precariously suspended just above the waters of chaos in which the chaos monstor(s) lived (hungrily). Jesus specifically treads the “sea” (not “lake”) – i.e. on evil
- “other side” – but not much is made of it, and in this story, they don’t arrive there yet
- on the water – that’s where Peter steps and sinks; this is outside the “boat” – Peter engages the struggle over evil that Jesus is demonstrating by willingness to go out of the boat
- Evening, darkening – time of mysteries – both numinous (Jesus on the Mountain in the dark) and Dangerous (disciples in the boat when it was late)
- early morning when Jesus arrived – similar to the time of resurrection and appearances
- Jesus – prayer, communion
- Disciples: obediently in the boat, struggle w. storm
- Nature: waves battered them; wind against them
- Jesus waling on “sea” (Yam) – evil
- Peter: asking to join Jesus out of the boat, steps on water, “notices” (becomes aware of) the wind, sinks, cries out “Lord save me” – taking Caesar’s title for Jesus
- Terror in disciples’ at the “ghost”
- worship of Jesus as Son of God
- alone, by himself – Jesus
- storm triad: battered by the waves, far from the land, the wind was against them
- Jesus’ triad: take courage, it is I (I am), fear not
- Peter: “Lord”
- Peter “save me”
- Jesus: “little faith”
- Jesus: “why did you doubt?”
- disciples: “you are the Son of God”
Emotion: fear, terror -> ? (worship)
- Presence / absence / presence of God (for Jesus and for disciples)
- obedience and suffering, fear, danger,
- engagement of evil – Jesus’ victory, Peter’s provisional attempts and failures
- overwhelming evil; long odds against successful encounter (in or out of the boat, for disciples)
- Peter – as representative of the Jerusalem church, shown in obedience and doubt, faith and failure of faith
- ultimate success: the presence of God in the saving hand of Jesus
- Tom Long’s Matthew commentary (WJK) is excellent here.
- The Social Science Commentary on the Synopitic Gospels (Malina nd Rohrbaugh, Fortress, 2003) is full of insight – espec. on “altered states of consciousness” (visions, dream states, and the Western bias against them).