With the quickening of the night breezes, the wind shifted and increased until a small fishing vessel pitched and yawed with every punishing wave. The boatmen were exhausted from working all day, and now they had to use the last of their strength to keep the boat from being swamped. The men must have grumbled. “Why has the master asked us to set out at night after we worked all day?” one might have said.
“We fed 5,000 people today! Wasn’t that enough?” another possibly added.
Perhaps someone tried to still the grumbling and complaining, but the night wore on and the strain began to take its toll on the little company of men. As the long night entered the fourth watch, those last long hours before dawn, one of the men thought he saw someone walking toward the boat. Walking on top of the waves! Impossible! He surely rubbed his eyes and looked again, wanting to be sure before alerting the others. “Look! A ghost!” he cried. And the others trembled in fear with him and took up the cry of “ghost!”
But then, the Master spoke. “Take heart! It is I; do not be afraid!” And though the men saw Jesus with their eyes, they could not wrap their minds around the fact that He walked on water. No one could walk on water…..could they?
So Peter, always the pragmatist, called out to Him, “Lord, if it’s really you, command me to come to you on the water.” And with a quick gesture of his hand, Jesus said simply, “Come!”
Full of brash boldness as always, Peter jumped out of the boat and began walking toward Jesus. What did he feel in those moments? “Look! I’m doing it!” he might have shouted as he stared intently into his Lord’s eyes.
But then the wind rose and the waves came up, and suddenly the man of faith looked not at Jesus, but at the tempest. Fear rose up in him and replaced his faith, and Peter cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately, the Word tells us –IMMEDIATELY, Jesus reached out his hand and rescued Peter.
You of little faith!” came Jesus’ rebuke. “Why did you doubt?”
And when the two men climbed into the boat, the storm stilled and the other disciples worshiped Jesus as the true Son of God.
There are so many lessons to be learned from this one little story!
- Why did Jesus have the men push out to sea after such a long day? Maybe to show them, and us, that when you think you’ve done all you can do, He gives you strength to endure.
- Why did Jesus wait so long to come to them? Why didn’t he come before the waves and wind became dangerous? We all want to be rescued before the storm starts. It’s human nature. But if we could all sit around on satin pillows, having our every wish and need fulfilled before we even ask, never facing anything difficult or sad or frightening in our lives, what type of people would be? Weak, ineffective and useless to the Kingdom of God, that’s what! It’s the constant battering of wind against trees that strengthen and harden them. Trees that are in dense forests where the wind does not reach them don’t put down deep roots, so they easily topple. God doesn’t want us to be easily toppled when Satan blows winds of adversity our way!
- Why did Jesus ask Peter to join him? That one simple command from Jesus – “Come!” – speaks volumes. He is open to us. When we call to him, he is there. And He wants us to be effective for Him. He didn’t say to Peter, “No, this special privilege is reserved for me only.” He said, “Come!” Jesus tells us that we can do all the things he did and even more, if we only have faith. In John 14:12, He says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” Does Jesus need us to walk on water? Probably not, but if we read this passage with a discerning mind, we will know that whatever he calls on us to do, no matter how difficult, He will enable us to complete the task.
- Why did Peter Fall? The answer is so simple. He took his eyes off the source of his strength and looked at the circumstances instead. Satan will always magnify the circumstances in our minds if we allow him to. When the waves threaten us, and the stormy winds blow in our relationships or finances or health, looking at the storm will only increase the fear. When I was a child and was afraid of a storm, my mother would get me to play cards with her or do something else to take my mind off the situation. Before I knew it, the storm was over! As long as Peter’s mind was off the situation, as long as he looked to Jesus, the author and finisher of his faith, he could stay above the waves. But one look at what the enemy was throwing his way, and his faith went down in one mighty gulp of fear.
And while Jesus did rebuke Peter for his lack of faith, mercifully, He also reached out his hand to keep Peter from drowning. Jesus wants us to have faith. To look at Him and not to the right or left, but only at Him. Yet he knows we are human, and that we succumb to our fears. So while he gently calls us out for not holding onto our faith, His hand is reaching out in deliverance at the same time.
It Can Work for You!
What are you believing for today? Do you have the faith to get out of the boat, i.e. your comfort zone or security, and walk above the storm toward Jesus’ open hand? “Come!” he says. Come and see what I have for you. Come and see what you can do when you trust me. Tell Him your request, and listen for him to say “Come!”
(Story of Peter walking on the water with Jesus found in Matthew 14:22-23)