55. Are You Missing the Boat?
Jesus is walking on the water!
If we could direct this movie, wouldn’t we try to highlight this fact? I can see it now; the dark is broken with a spotlight that is focusing in the distance on a lone figure walking on water. The seas have calmed down as the figure glides slowly forward toward the boat full of His disciples in the foreground, gently bobbing in the waves, which is just in front of the camera. He moves closer to the boat. And is in full view of the camera doing a cameo as He smiles at it. Then pan back and we see the disciples all haggard from the storm but smiling now to see Jesus. The clouds are moving away, and light is dawning on the whole scene.
Matthew 14:22-33 (read)
Nope that’s not how it happened. This is the Lord Jesus! It had to be the darkest hour and the wind needed to be raging. Not much light happening for the disciples to see him, so He was only visible maybe when the lightning struck or maybe when the clouds allowed the moon to shine through.
What or who is it? Is it a ghost? It moves closer to the boat full of men that have felt utterly displaced from their normal lives in the last several months, even the fishermen among them. Of those fishermen, one stood up, squatting and holding on to the rocking boat. He looked more intently at the ghost than the others whose eyes are fixed on this figure in fear. He moved closer to the edge of the boat as they held on for dear life; especially the landlubbers among them. They barely heard the voice over the crashing waves and the rushing, swirling winds.
“Don’t be afraid, it’s me!” Or KJV, Matthew 14:27: “be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” He had to have been yelling this. (Or put it into their minds or how could they have heard over the roar of the wind and waves? But they did.)
Peter had his suspicions confirmed; it was Jesus Who walked toward them! He moved forward toward that side of the boat. The others moved instinctively away from that side of the tossing boat to even out the balance and to be far away from the form as it came nearer. Peter, being a fisherman, understood the sea, and had great respect for it. He knew that Jesus walking on water in this mighty wind storm was not possible but he was seeing it with his own eyes. He was moved deep inside to ask the Lord to let him do the same.
Peter said: Matthew 14:28 “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.”
“Come.” (Matthew 14:29)
Peter being zealous, jumped out of the boat and walked toward Jesus. He didn’t think much of this until he was out on the water. Peter, a fisherman by trade, had had experience in a boat in a storm before. He was afraid, but he overrode the fear.
But now out ON THE WATER, he hesitated. He realized this man had captured his heart to do something he would never do before! He was so desirous to see Jesus that he went out of his normal boundaries to do it. Yes, he was afraid! He saw the wind boisterous (powerful, strong)! He took his eyes off Jesus. And now he was…sinking!!! He suddenly realized he was facing a life-threating situation without much time to think. This is where the story gets good and where so many sermons stop.
Yes, looking away from Jesus caused Peter to sink. I really think this next part is why this story is in the bible and WHY it happened this way. Peter had two choices.
1) He could turn around and swim to get back into the boat. Which is what he would have done if he wound up in the sea in a storm. The friends could have thrown him a line, but none of them did. They were too stunned by the appearance of Jesus, and the fact that Peter did walk on the water.
2) Peter could go to Jesus.
Peter chose Jesus! I applaud Peter for this!
He said, verse 30, “Lord Save Me!”
We don’t know if Peter was closer to the boat or to Jesus.
Either way, Peter chose Jesus! That was faith!
The only words out of Jesus’ mouth were, “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” And “Come.” That was enough. Peter was completely convinced that this was Jesus not a ghost.
Can you imagine the other disciples’ thoughts at this time?
“Don’t do it Peter!”
“Man, you are rocking the boat!”
“That’s a ghost, Peter!”
“Is he really getting out of the boat???”
“This is the only safe place in the storm!”
Most of them were gripping so hard on the boat, afraid for their very lives when it was just the fierce storm, now with the ghost!!! And Peter walking on the water!! It was too much!
Jesus did not stretch out his hand before Peter yelled for him. He knew Peter was going to sink. But our Lord waited. He was waiting for Peter’s faith to be full. For him to cry out His name. Because faith moves Jesus! When Jesus sees faith inside of hearts, He is moved to be Lord, to save, to be available for the person whose heart is toward Him. That’s when Jesus immediately stretched forth his hand and caught him, and said unto him, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”
The doubt didn’t’ happen when he got out of the boat. The doubt didn’t happen when he was walking on the water. The doubt did happen when he wasn’t completely enthralled with his Lord before him in the storm. His brain started telling him,
“Heh, uh, we can’t do this! We know what water is, and we can’t walk on it!”
Right then he had turned his eyes on Jesus again. Whether he did it in his heart or with his eyes, it happened.
He was aware Peter would fail because, Peter fails, he’s human. But Jesus is so much more.
My gang invited us, Zack and I, to go rock climbing at a gym. (My kids refused to be called kids anymore so… “gang” it is)
I climbed up just fine. It was surprisingly easy. What I found hard was the sitting back and relying on the ropes to gently glide me back down to the pad at the bottom. My brain yelled at me,
“No! It doesn’t work like that! You will fall and break your neck!”
And so, when I did try to trust the rope, I almost got hurt because I completely let go and trusted too much in the rope; I laid back into it. I knew I had to have faith in the rope, but I thought it would not let me bang against the rock wall with all of its hand and foot grips sticking out of it. In my mind, it would gently glide me to the ground and I would be standing unscathed at the bottom!
Well, it didn’t quite happen like that! I let go and fell slower than I expected, hit the wall and I didn’t rebound off of it gracefully but lightly crashed into it and went sideways and landed with a thud on the side of my butt!
I had to let my mind grasp what happened and let it take a break. Think about it. So, I watched a few others do it before I tried again. I did go up again and I did belay off the wall gracefully the next time and landed on my feet. My brain has a lot to learn. It isn’t always right about everything it thinks. Especially in new territory like rock climbing and belaying. Luckily, my mind, and brain learned fast!
Just like Peter’s mind. Peter’s mind probably went through all the miracles he saw Jesus perform, water into wine (John 2:1-11), healing his mother-in-law (Matthew 8:14-15; Mark 1:30-31; Luke 4:38-39), feeding 5000 men, besides women and children (Matt 14:15-21), and more. His brain was yelling at him that he can’t walk on water, but Jesus was right in front of him standing on water and he called to him to “come.” The struggle in our minds is real! And when it comes to faith, it’s new territory and so we have to listen to the Holy Spirit not our minds then. Which Peter did! He gets credit for standing on water and walking towards Jesus! What a guy! Yet we slam him for looking away. We act like:
“OH, I WOULD NEVER HAVE DONE THAT!”
Hahaha! Yeah, and I thought I will go rock climbing and do it perfectly the first time. But the reasoning with my mind was real. The struggle to overcome was real. I did not do it perfectly the first time! Just getting someone to a rock gym at my age is a struggle! But I thought, “Hey, I won over death last year, why not? My gang goes all the time and they come home in one piece. I’m doing pretty good physically, I should go if they ask me!” I told them this, and they said:
And I did. I’m glad I did, and my daughter was there to help me up when I fell ungracefully down the wall. She didn’t catch me; she might have got hurt too. But she did help me up!
Jesus waited for Peter to call his name before picking him up out of the water. Was the alternative for him to swim back to the boat? Yes, that made more sense “in the world!” because, can a ghost lift up a human?
Peter had faith!!!! He believed Jesus could and would help him. If he didn’t, he would have yelled, “Help!!!” to the guys in the boat!
Think about it.
Don’t miss this boat! Jesus waits for us to ask Him for help because when we ask Him, we ask in faith that He will do something to help us. Faith is key! Jesus said in verse 31, “O thou of little faith, where didst thou doubt?”
He didn’t say, “Why did you take your eyes off Me?”
He might have added, “Yes, the wind was distracting, but have faith that I am here, when you come back to yourself.” This belief has to be implanted deep your mind somewhere to have the faith that Peter exhibited in this story, albeit little faith, as it was.
by Monica DuBois