The Bare Soul
May 13, 2012
Walking on Water
Matthew 14:30 - But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Anyone who has been in a boat in stormy conditions knows the peril which can often ensue. Mariners will tell you that even if a vessel capsizes, the safest thing is to stay with the the boat until help arrives. I have been in many boats and even small ships when the weather was contrary. I can remember when I worked on offshore supply boats in my early 20s out in the Gulf of Mexico. These were really supply haulers (180 foot in length) which carried drilling supplies out to the drilling platforms in the Gulf. Often, we would tie up to these oil behemoths for three to four days as we off-loaded supplies. It was common to be tethered to a rig twenty miles out in the Gulf when a storm would roll in. A usually placid sea would suddenly be rocking the vessel with 10 to 20 foot waves crashing over the wide loading deck. As deckhands, we were advised to always have a safety line attached to our life preserver required to be worn during rough seas. Without this precaution, one rogue wave could sweep you over the side and you would vanish in a heartbeat.
Having worked stormy gales in the open sea, I can appreciate the significance of when Jesus came to the disciples walking on water that fateful night. We are told in Matthew 14:24 how the small fishing vessel was "battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary." This means they were probably heading into the wind and therefore they were zigzagging back and forth to gain the wind's advantage. However, in doing so, they would not be hitting the waves with their prow (or the front of their boat). Instead, the waves would be battering the sides of the small vessel and the disciples would have felt the full force of the waves as they rocked them to and fro. Fortunately, these men were seasoned sailors and knew how to keep the boat from being swamped with water. Undoubtedly, it was still a rough journey. We are told in Matthew 14:25 how the Lord came to them, walking on the water in the fourth watch, or sometime between three and six a.m. The disciples first reaction was that they were beholding a ghost. However, Jesus soon calmed them, saying: “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27)
We should all be thankful of what transpires next. It is a mixture of success and failure. We would not know mere mortals were capable of walking on water if Peter would not have dared to do so. It is a bittersweet lesson that continues to teach us the meaning of obedience and faith. For without the former, the latter is impossible. We are told in Matthew 14:29 how Peter stepped out of the boat and "came toward Jesus." How did Peter know which way to go? His gaze was still intent on looking at the Master. However, as soon as he took his eyes off the Lord, then he began to sink. We are told in our opening verse that three things quickly transpired with immediate consequences. The first was Peter's loss of SIGHT. Peter did not see the wind, for as we know, wind is invisible. However, he saw the result of the wind and the tempestuous waves the gales created. He had taken his eyes off the Master and put his eyes on the circumstances at hand. The second was Peter's FRIGHT. The disciple who moments before was full of faith found himself now paralyzed with fear. The obedience which moments before had created faith allowing him to participate in this miracle had suddenly turned to disobedience and fear. Lastly, Peter lost the MIGHT or the power connected to faith. His lack of faith had now become visible to all, including the Lord who rescued the frightened disciple after he cried out, "Lord, save me!"
So what can we learn from Peter other than the obvious? Most of us have heard sermons about Peter's loss of faith because he took his eyes off the Lord. Gazing toward Jesus when the storms of life besiege us is of paramount importance. However, I believe there is something more to learn than merely keeping our gaze upon the Lord. What if Peter would have made it to Jesus and they would have walked hand in hand to the boat or to the other side of the Sea of Galilee together? Gazing toward Jesus will not only get us to Jesus, but it will also allow us the opportunity to go wherever He is taking us. It is not enough to be part of the miracle, but to be part of the miraculous journey. Like Peter, we should throw caution to the wind and forsake any "safety equipment" and head doggedly toward Him. And, beyond that, we should be ready and willing to continue our miraculous walk on water with Him, no matter how high the seas of life might assail our faith. Jesus allowed this story not only to teach us about limited success, but about unlimited possibilities if we will first obey, then trust in faith, and then move in his might and power. The journey will always be unpredictable and the destination unsure. However, the company we keep will be outstanding and forever faithful to see us to our final goal!
Lord Jesus, thank You for this wonderful example of faith by Your beloved Peter. Help us to know we can do greater things in these last days if we will but trust in You to complete us in our journey of faith. Allow us to first walk to You on the water and then to walk with You wherever You might will. It will be a wonderful journey indeed as long as You lead! In Your holy Name, Jesus Christ the Almighty, Amen.
Your Barefoot Servant,
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