What does it mean to be saved? In the Gospel reading for this week we have the account of Jesus walking on the water. To his credit, Peter has enough faith to believe that he can do this too. Then, however, he became terrified at the high waves and began to sink. Peter shouted our “Save me Lord”. Certainly, this literal meaning of the word was part of the Jewish understanding of salvation. God would save Israel from its enemies and for Himself. In the reading from the book of Genesis, God used Joseph to save his father Jacob’s family from famine in Canaan. God worked out his plan early on by allowing Joseph to be sold into slavery in Egypt. Then, God used Moses and the ten plagues to save his people from their Egyptian oppressors. In the book of psalms, the psalmist records how God warned kings on Israel’s behalf: “Do not touch these people I have chosen and do not hurt my prophets.” Israel was a small group of people in a volatile part of the world surrounded by powerful nations – Egypt, Babylon, Assyria and ultimately Rome. God protected his people from being wiped out. He was in a literal sense their saviour.
But is there more to the meaning of the word saviour? In the New Testament, the word salvation took on a new theological significance. In the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul writes, “For anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Paul grasped that God’s plan started in Genesis (before Joseph) was completely fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus would save us not only from drowning (in the case of Peter walking on the water) but would save all humanity from their sins. All the animal sacrifices which atoned for the people’s sins as recorded in the Pentateuch (first 5 books of the Bible) were no longer relevant. In order to be saved from ourselves, in order to be saved from our past, in order to be saved from our feelings of guilt and inadequacy, in order to be saved from our sins, we need to call on the name of Jesus. Jesus provides total salvation. Not just from political enemies and dangerous circumstances but salvation from every physical and spiritual experience in our past and into eternity. What do we need to do? Let us leave the last words to the passage from Romans: “For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, YOU WILL BE SAVED.”
Old Testament reading for this week: Genesis 37:1-4, 12-28
Gospel reading for this week: Matthew 14:22-33
Epistle reading for this week: Romans 10:5-15
Psalm for this week: Psalm 105:1-6, 16-22, 45b