Bible Studies for Life Sunday School Lesson for January 1

Bible Studies for Life Sunday School Lesson for January 1

Courage in Place of Fear

Matthew 14:22–33

One of the most memorable scenes in the Peanuts series occurred in “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” Lucy the psychiatrist discusses fear with her patient Charlie Brown: “Are you afraid of responsibility? If so, you have hypengyophobia. … Are you afraid of staircases? If you are, then you have climacaphobia. Are you afraid of the sea? If so, then you have thalassophobia.”

After asking Charlie Brown about other possible phobias, she said, “Or maybe you have pantophobia. Do you think you have pantophobia?” Charlie Brown asked, “What’s pantophobia?” When Lucy defined pantophobia as the fear of everything, Charlie Brown said, “That’s it!”

We do not know what will happen in 2023.

The last few years have no doubt led to an increase in financial and safety concerns, among other fears. Christians can mitigate fear by keeping their focus on Jesus. The proper fear is a fear of God.

Act on what God tells you to do. (22–26)

The disciples were in a boat on the Sea of Galilee because they were obedient to the command of Jesus.

He made the disciples get into a boat and go ahead of Him to the other side of the sea, while He walked up the mountain for the purpose of prayer (Matt. 14:22–23). The Gospel writers did not record the content of this prayer. One commentator suggests Jesus possibly sought prayer because the crowd attempted to force Him to be king (John 6:15).

Like the disciples, we often experience storms in our lives because we are obedient to Jesus’ command.

They were rowing against the wind and were battered by the waves.

God’s entire plan for the Kingdom was in the boat that stormy night.

Perhaps the storm had a demonic origin. If Satan could destroy Jesus and the disciples on the sea, he would be the victor.

Jesus came to the disciples walking on the sea. When they saw Him walking on the water, they cried out in fear.

Were they seeing a ghost, or did the action of Jesus walking on water communicate His nature as the Son of God?

Fear sets in when you take your eyes off Jesus. (27–30)

Jesus responded to the fear of the disciples with a claim and a promise. He commanded the disciples to take heart (be courageous), then He revealed Himself by speaking, “It is I.”

A literal translation of the original language is “I Am” — the words by which God revealed Himself to Moses (Ex. 3:14). Perhaps because of Jesus’ use of the divine name, Peter requested permission to come to Jesus on the water. Peter walked on water, but when he took his eyes off Jesus, he began to sink. I acknowledge many of the storms I encountered in life occurred when I took my eyes off Jesus.

Jesus is there when you return to Him. (31–33)

The wind ceased at the very moment Jesus and Peter got into the boat, rather than the moment when Jesus reached out and grabbed Peter. Perhaps you have experienced occasions when the storm ceases when you are where God wants you to be, doing what God wants you to do. This miracle led to the disciples to worship and acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus.

By Mark Rathel
Professor at the Baptist College of Florida in Graceville, Florida

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