Jesus Walks on the Water (Mathew 14:22-33)
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshipped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
We read this story of Jesus walking on the water in the gospel of Mathew, Mark and John. But only in Mathew do we read about Peter walking on the water too. This miracle happens on the heels of another miracle, the feeding of the five thousand.
The story of Jesus walking on the water unfolds on the sea of Galilee. This body of water is susceptible to sudden violent storms. And the disciples found themselves right in the middle of one of these storms.
Notice that it was Jesus who urged them to get on the boat and cross over to the other side. So, they did not find themselves in the storm because they disobeyed Jesus. Jesus brought them to this difficult situation in order to reveal more of His identity and His glory to them. They were in the middle of the waters being tossed and thrown about in a small boat without any human resource left to help. But Jesus was right there in the midst of the storm with them.
Did they recognise Jesus? No, they did not, they thought it was a ghost, further adding to their fright. The question arises were they looking for Jesus. Often in the midst of our life storms we are so occupied with fear that we go about not looking for HIM but turn to every other source for help. Fear and Faith cannot abide together. Fear clouds our view of Jesus. We go on to read how Jesus reassures them of His presence.
Upon hearing HIM speak, Peter said “Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water.”
Let’s look at this in detail and see what we can learn from this;
- Dare to get out of the boat – Peter was the only disciple who thought of getting out of the boat. Like the rest of the disciples we cling to what we think is our safety vessel and dare not step out. Peter dared to get out of the boat. Jesus did not say what a ridiculous idea Peter, stay in the boat and I will come to you. In life we have to be brave and dare to get out of our boat (comfort zones).
- Ask – Peter was known to be a bit impulsive, but he did not just jump out of the boat but instead asked Jesus. It was the fourth watch (between 3am-6am) and it was dark, he could not see Jesus clearly and even after Jesus spoke, he was not entirely certain it was HIM because peter says ‘If it is you LORD’. Sometimes before we step out of our boat, we want a 100% certainty and only then would we want to move forward. When we know that we are prompted by the Lord to step out, we may not yet be a 100%sure, but that remaining percentage of uncertainty is where faith and trust come in to play because it reminds us to lean and depend on HIM and know in whose strength and providence we rely on. For we walk by faith and not by sight.
No Conditions – Peter did not ask the Lord, quiet the storm and only then will I step out (Peter knew that Jesus can do that as he had evidenced Jesus calming the storm once before, which we read in Mathew 8). Peter did not negotiate the terms and conditions; he did not wait for the situation to be ideal before he gets closer to the Lord. All he did was ask, trust and obey.
Jesus responds to Peter saying “Come”.
We see the power of HIS word; all it took was that one word and Peter was able to walk on water. Praise God.
Peter did not leap out of the boat on his own accord, but instead waited for the word from Jesus. For us, just because something may seem like a good thing to do, it does not mean we do it and hope that the Lord will hop onboard. We have to pray and seek HIS will and wisdom before we step out.
This miraculous walk for Peter on the water started with an initial step of faith, followed by another step of obedient faith. He did not just wander around on the water in any direction but headed towards Jesus.
We then read that Peter got distracted with the wind and the waves and begins to sink. Aren’t we all a bit like that, we start off right, with our eyes glued to our saviour and then get distracted and focus on the storm surrounding us. And we think I asked, listened and am doing it right why is the situation becoming worse and you feel like you are drowning.
Peter’s faith at that moment had shifted from the surety of Jesus and HIS word to the uncertainty of his situation.
Something interesting happens when Peter begins to sink. His focus snaps back to Jesus. And he cries out to the Lord and Jesus immediately reaches out HIS hand to Peter.
As we find ourselves sinking and cry out to Jesus, we are reminded that even if we tend to lose focus, our LORD has NOT. And when HE pulls us out of the water, there is forgiveness for doubting, forgiveness for focusing on the problem instead of HIM.
And what does this miraculous walk result in; in worship and revelation. All the disciples worshipped Jesus and for the first time said “Truly you are the son of God.”
Like the storm, life can be unpredictable, chaotic and scary. May we remember to walk faithfully in fearful circumstances, may we dare to step out of the boat, move closer to HIM and farther away from our own securities and comfort zones so that we can experience our own unforgettable walk with our Lord.