And Peter answered him and said, “Lord, if it be you, bid me come to you 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 to him, “O you of little faith, wherefore did you doubt?”
Man, what an amazing image of a sold-out believer being conflicted with true doubt. Now, before we get too deep into Peter’s miraculous act of walking on water and the act of Christ saving him because of his disbelief, it is important to understand more about Peter.
Peter was originally named Simon, but Jesus changed his name to Peter, which means “the rock.” Peter’s acts of boldness are found in a number of places and this boldness is perfectly seen when, along with his brother Andrew, they immediately left everything and followed Jesus. To illustrate this one example of boldness, keep in mind Peter and Andrew had a fishing business. Scripture indicates they left their equipment, their personal needs, and everything that surrounded their life to immediately follow Jesus. This immediate response tells me that with very little thought, if any, they walked away from everything to be with Jesus.
I think just as in Peter’s case, God sees the best in us and he has a purpose for each of us. Jeremiah 29:11 clearly states that God knows this purpose and the purpose is one that is going to give us a future. Peter possessed true purpose because God wanted him to be a foundation for the new covenant through Christ and to become the rock that Christ’s church was to be built upon! Peter had witnessed first-hand Jesus in action. He was there when Jesus healed the blind, he was there when the power was given against unclean spirits, he experienced people being healed and he had the honor to sit side by side with the Son of God.
Of course, upon Jesus’s invitation for Peter to follow him, Peter probably had no clue what was in store for him. Each small detail God added to Peter’s life equipped him for something bigger down the road. A true image of this equipping unfolds in Matthew 14, way before Peter is invited a second time by Jesus to follow him, but this time by walking on water.
In Matthew 14 we see a huge crowd that has followed Jesus into the desert. Scripture tells us that Jesus was moved with compassion and begins to heal people. As time passed, the disciples began to notice it was early evening and dinner was approaching. As you read God’s work you will see to the disciples’ surprise that Jesus tells them not to send the crowd away hungry but to feed them from the five loaves and two fish that Jesus and his disciples had on hand. Scripture does not really say, but I can imagine that the disciples began to ask several questions. First, how can we feed all these people with so little food and second, what would they personally eat if they gave all their food to the 5,000 people in attendance?
Here is how our God works. Not only were they able to feed 5,000 people, but there were 12 baskets of food left after everyone’s needs were satisfied. Ironically, the leftovers actually supplied a basket of food for each disciple and illustrates the true hand of the master at work.
Jesus’s next move at the end of Chapter 14 is where things get really interesting. Jesus tells his disciples that he is going to see the crowd of people off and tells the disciples to load up the boat and he would catch up with them later. Scripture tells us that he took time to pray, but it does not go into detail what he prayed. Watching the way Jesus did ministry, I would be sure he started his prayers just as he taught his followers to pray, but I am pretty sure knowing what is going to happen next he asked God for provisions to help his disciples grow.
The disciples are well into their trip in their boat as a storm starts to brew and begins to toss their boat around in the choppy seas. Suddenly out of nowhere they see something approaching them on the water. Each disciple saw something different than the other but bold and brave Peter recognizes it is Jesus, and just as quickly as he accepted Christ’s first invitation to follow him into ministry, he steps out of the boat, firmly planting both feet on top of the water. Peter with his first step was not thinking about the storm and matter of fact I don’t think he even though about the water. We see Peter quickly go from being excited to being concerned. We see a man stepping out bold in his faith become one that wonders how it was earthly possible to walk on water in the middle of a storm. Realizing what is happening he looks down, he looks at the storm around him, and the solid surface under his feet turns into dangerous waters as he sinks.
Just like Peter, God wants us to be bold and step out of our comfort zone. God wants us to cast our doubts, our worries, and every small detail of our life onto him. That night I think Peter grew a lot as a disciple, as a child of God, and as a person in general. I want to encourage you today to look at the stormy weather ahead of you for only a second and immediately place your eyes on Jesus. Hold your attention to the solid ground he is providing for you. Keep the comfort of knowing, just as Peter knew, that Jesus is ready to catch you, but know that he desires you to walk with boldness toward him. 1 Peter 5:6-7 states, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” May God lead you and bless you and let his face shine upon you no matter where you are at today. Step out of your boat today and run this race marked out for you. God bless you.
Rev. Ewell Vernon is pastor at Mountain View Baptist Church in Lowgap.