And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
For some reason, I am continually drawn to the above passage of Scripture accounting of the miracle of Jesus walking on the water and Peter, well, uhhhh – (he tried). So many times Peter reminds me of myself. In the instance of him denying Christ – I haven’t necessarily denied Him to the level that Peter did, yet I have (as we all have) denied Him the permission to work and speak in areas of my life that I didn’t want touched. I haven’t necessarily sunk in Lake Monticello, but I have sunk when taking the credit for the glory that should have been given to the Lord.
The story speaks to me in so many different ways every time I read it. Here are but a few:
Christ in the Crisis:
In verse 25, in the middle of this gigantic storm, Jesus walks on the scene – This reminds me of His promise that He’ll never leave me nor forsake me. He’ll always be there in the worst storms of my life. If you could just see and recognize Christ in your crisis – you can be comforted to know He is in control! Your crisis could be anything – but know that Jesus is there saying “be of good cheer, it is I, be not afraid.”
Jesus is calling us to walk on what is trying to destroy us:
The wind was contrary, the little ship was being tossed about, and was probably in danger of capsizing. But Jesus gave Peter permission to come out and walk on the water with Him. What an example – When I begin to feel overwhelmed, I realize that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. So I can walk on what is trying to destroy me. My problems don’t control me, I control them. I’m not watching out for the devil, the devil is watching out for me! We Christians can tend to be so wimpy, but we need a revelation of whose dwelling place we are and who is empowering us.
When we fall, Christ is there to pick us back up:
Notice I said WHEN. This isn’t a negative confession. It’s just life! Proverbs 24:16 says this: For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief. There’s a song I’ve heard that says “We fall down but we get up, we fall down but we get up, we fall down but we get up, for a saint is just a sinner who fell down – and got up.” This rings so true. Peter got his eyes off of Jesus, and onto his circumstance – and he fell! Any time we look at the crisis, and not at Christ – WE FALL. But He is always there to pick us up – just call on Him and put your hand in the hand of the man... (oops, too many songs for one paragraph).
What would have happened if…?
I’m one of these people who like to ask these kind of questions. Call me weird if you wanna (I know it’s hard not to). I just wonder if, had Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, and not sank – would the rest of the disciples joined him? Do you think that the disciples in the boat were saying among themselves, “if he makes it, we can too.” We’ll never know the answer to that question this side of Heaven, but it helps me to remember that our example can build or inhibit others’ faith.
How humbling it is to lead
When we are in a position of leadership, as we see Peter taking being the first out of the boat, humbling things happen. Leading other Christians, I know of this firsthand. There’s nothing more embarrassing than to have others see you fall flat on your face. Of course there’s nothing some of those whom you are leading would love more than to see you fall. You’ll be called a hypocrite, a fake, so on, and so forth. Yet the resounding statement in my head is Peter crying out in verse 30, “Lord, save me.” We can say, “God knows my heart” all we want to, but there’s something about the audible humility of someone crying out to God for help that seems to silence the naysayers (at least in the mind of the one crying out).
All Glory and attention is on Him
When the story wraps up, I don’t see any of the disciples praising Peter for taking a few steps on the water. I don’t even see them taunting Peter when he gets back in the boat. You see, Jesus corrected Peter by asking him where he doubted, and that was the end of the story for Peter’s failure. The two returned to the boat, the wind ceased, and those who were in the ship went to Jesus and worshipped Him. Peter failed at focusing his attention on Jesus, but at the end of the story, I see Christ turning Peter’s failure into a success when the disciples worshipped. Through all of our failures and successes, both public and private; at the end of the day the outcome should be that all eyes are on Jesus.
I’m sure there’s much more that we can glean from this story. I hope what I have learned from this has encouraged you. Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear how the Lord has spoken to you through this scripture.