I’m doing a lot of study of Matthew, Mark, and Luke right now, trying to arrange the three books into one chronological study.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of examining the account of Peter walking on the water. As you know, the event happens while the disciples were on a boat on the Sea of Galilee. A great storm rose against them but then they saw Jesus walking on the water toward them.
But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee 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.
Let’s take care to note what exactly Peter asks, because he doesn’t actually mention walking on water. Instead he just says “if it is you, Lord, invite me to come on the water.” Is this a question asked out curiosity? Was Peter seeking validation? I don’t think so. I think he knew it was Jesus, I think he wanted to walk on the water with Jesus, and I think he was too afraid to ask the question directly, so he asked it indirectly.
The Lord does not refuse Peter’s request. He invites him out into the stormy sea and Peter hops out toward the water without hesitation. Say what you want about Peter, the man wasn’t perfect, but he jumped out of a boat in the middle of a storm in full expectation of walking on water. That’s a tremendous level of faith. His feet hit the sea as if it were wet concrete and he began walking toward his Master.
Alas, the storm continued to rage, and the faith that propelled Peter out of the boat also distracted him from the Lord that had granted him the miracle he was doing. The winds and the waves sparked in Peter the opposite of faith: Fear and doubt. As a result, he began to sink and to cry to Jesus for help.
And Jesus helped. He pulled Peter back up and led him back to the boat.
“O thou of little faith, why did you doubt?” Jesus says to him. Isn’t that interesting? I mean, Peter had more faith than the other disciples; he had faith enough to get out of the boat. But faith isn’t a competition between other people; it’s a measuring stick for your relationship with God. Peter’s relationship was strong enough to get him out of the boat, but not strong enough to stop the storm from distracting him.
The Master and His disciple walk to the boat, climb in, and immediately the wind and the rain ceased. We learn from John’s account of this that, as soon as Jesus entered the boat, the ship instantly found itself at its destination (John 6:21). He was in total control all along; there never should have been a doubt. Nevertheless, as we learn from Peter, it’s very easy to trust that God is there and still worry about the storms that rage around us.
We’re all of little faith sometimes.
Let’s use this account to remind us that, while the storm rages, God is there, and as long as we keep our eyes on Him, we’ll be okay.