Jesus walked on the water but so did Peter, at least for a time. What lessons can we learn from Jesus’ and Peter’s experience with walking on the water?
Jesus Sends the Disciples into the Storm
Matthew 14:22 “Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.”
After Jesus fed the 5,000 He “made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side.” Don’t forget that little, seemingly incidental comment. It was Jesus that sent the disciples to the other side of the sea and into the storm but they were about to go out into no small storm in the middle of the sea and in the pitch black of night!
In the Middle of the Storm
Matthew 12:23b-24 “When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them.”
The disciples were out near the middle of the sea, about 670 feet from the shore. By this time the ship began to be tossed and turned and “the wind was against them” meaning that they were heading right into a fierce wind storm. They were “beaten by the wave” which means that they were being pummeled by the waves that tossed the boat up and down and probably had soaked the disciples to the bone. Remember that it was Jesus who had sent them into this storm. He knew it was coming. Jesus also sends us out in to the storms of life, making us as it were, to go to certain places for Him and by His command with the full realization that we will be heading into fierce storms and we will be out in the middle of nowhere with no light and with possibly no human help available. That is a lesson of trust in Jesus for we too will frequently have “the wind against” us. By now the disciples must have feared for their lives. Many of them were experienced fishermen by trade and knew how serious of a situation that they were in.
Jesus Walks on the Water
Matthew 14:25-28 “And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
Why does Jesus make them wait, in the middle of the night, in a dangerous windstorm, where they believed that they all might be drowned, and in the middle of the night? Remember that Jesus “made them get into the boat and go before him to the other side” (Matt 14:22). The “forth watch” is 3 A.M. in the morning. They are too far from shore to swim if the boat capsizes and they would surely drown in the strong winds and high waves, they were too far from shore for anyone to hear their cries for help, besides the fact that it was in the middle of the night when everyone would be asleep. Then they say someone walking on the water and cried out in fear “It is a ghost!” That is the exact moment that Jesus told them “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
The lesson for us is that during the most impossible situations, when all hope seems to be lost, and there is nothing but darkness and doubt with no one that could possibly help us, is the exact time that Jesus is there. He told the disciples and He tells us, “Take heart…do not be afraid.”
Peter Walks on the Water
Matthew 14:29-31 “And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Peter still shows doubt that it is Jesus because he says “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Why did Peter doubt it was Jesus? Because remember it was still during the middle of the night, it was pitch black, and the wind and the waves were still crashing into the boat. Maybe Peter needed Jesus to reassure him. Jesus says to Peter and to us, “Come.” Peter came and showed great faith in stepping out of the boat. Sometime we will be asked to come to Jesus in the dark night of our soul, when all else looks hopeless and walk on our own seemingly impossible water and take a giant step of faith. Peter did and he walked on water and was doing fine until he took his eyes off of Jesus and “saw the wind [and] he was afraid.” That is what happens to us if we take our eyes off of Jesus and look at what we see with our eyes. We must learn to walk on the water (do what looks to be humanly impossible) and keep our eyes fixed upon Him, if not, we will sink into our own fear and despair. We must learn to see with the eyes of faith and believe in Him, even if we can’t see Him our own storms of life. This is when he began to sink…sinking in his fear and by what he saw, not by what he believed…that Jesus told him to “Come.”
Here is the shortest prayer in the Bible when Peter says “Lord, save me.” Have you ever asked Jesus to do that yet? If you want to be saved today, Jesus says to you “Come.” At the last possible moment Jesus reached out his hand and “took hold of him.” Jesus reaches out His hand to us today during the tempest of our storms in life. If we fear, He will also rebuke us saying “O you of little faith, why did doubt?” I ask myself those same questions at times.
Jesus Calms the Storm
Matthew 14:32-33 “And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
When Jesus got in the boat, immediately “the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him by saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.” He is the God of the storms of life, able to calm every storm. He may not keep us from the storms or allow us to go around them…but He will be with us through the storms. In fact, He may actually make us go into the storms so that we will trust in Him, even when our eyes lie to us. When we do, then the storm will eventually calm and we too will worship Him as the Son of God. I pray this helps you weather the storms of life and understand that God may send us into a storm but He will be with us in the storm and today, He reaches out His hand and says “Come.” Will you pray to Him saying, “Lord, save me?”
Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon