Bible Message/Preaching : Walking on Water with Jesus
So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!" And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"
This is a very familiar text - the story of peter walking on water! If we look into v22 (Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away...). We see that Jesus asked disciples to get into the boat and go ahead! But they ended up in troubles - The parallel account in Mark says that Jesus saw they were suffering! Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. (Mk 6:48a) So obedience do not guarantee a trouble-free situation.
It is a heresy if anyone say that if we are in Christ, then there should not be any trouble. Lets look at what Jesus did when He saw that the disciples are in trouble. Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by. (Mk 6:48b) Interesting, isn't it? He would have passed by them if they have not noticed or reacted to the situation! Looks like Jesus wanted to teach them a good lesson useful for their future life bearing His Name.
2 Tim 3:12 say that: all who desire to live Godly will suffer persecution!
Again in 1 Pet 3:17 it is given: "it is better, if it is the will of God to suffer for doing good than for doing evil". Rom 8:17 gives one of the reasons: if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together! But the Scriptures assure us that everything works together for good for those who love God - the famous Rom 8:28.
If we look back at Mk 6:48b, Jesus intend to pass by! So if we do not watch out we might miss Him! Jesus wanted to have their reaction recognised by them so as to see their weakness.
One of the first things we think is what would've happened if Peter did not have taken out his eyes from Jesus? He would probably have not sunk. When he changed his focus from Jesus to the adverse circumstances, he was afraid! When he was afraid, he began to doubt and when he began to doubt, he began to sink! But then he did the right thing - he called out "Lord, save me!" and Jesus was right there to save him from sinking into Galilee. The lesson here is that no matter how deep we've sunken into your problem, Jesus is there to rescue us - we just need to call out to Him. Because there is no problem too hard for the Lord to handle! (Jer 32:17, 27)
Another interesting thing we can notice in v31 is that Jesus immediately stretched out His hand to save Peter. It means either that Peter was so close to Jesus OR Jesus was so fast. I want to think the first option that Peter was so close to Jesus. See, he made a good step in faith and walked on water to Jesus. He enjoyed the walk but once he was near to Jesus, he just looked around - and suddenly his faith just drained away (was not good enough)! Jesus caught him and gave him a small chastening - "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" (v32).
We know that Peter know how to swim, we read in the Bible that he even swam faster than the boat to the shore! After the resurrection of Jesus, when He appeared to disciples while they were fishing. (Jn 21:7) But when doubt came, he forgot everything. It is an interesting lesson. We should trust in the Lord always.
Let's look a bit into Peter's character - some say he did it because he just jumps into things - so fast here. And look at Gethsemane, he drew the sword, then he followed Jesus when he was arrested, but denied Him when asked if he was with Him! But before getting into such a conclusion, if we look a little earlier in the Scriptures, we see that this incident is just after the miracle of feeding of 5000! So what happened to all that they had experienced few hours ago? Yes, everyone was scared at first, but only Peter dared to say something, he want to experience what Jesus is experiencing. He said he is willing to die for Him, which is the reason he alone followed Him when arrested. In this situation he was so eager to meet Jesus - he loved Him very much and trusted Him. We see this also in Jn 21:7. Peter jumped into water and swarm shore before everyone else! He really wanted to be where Jesus is! And he is also an "out-of-the-box" thinker if we say it in modern terms. He found it more safe to be in water with Jesus than in the boat without Him - wonderful faith, isn't it?! He had a child-like faith yet he made the mistake of changing his focus from Jesus.
But, what about others in the boat? What happened to them? They were also with Peter when Jesus fed the 5000 & all other miracles! But they were so scared! It was dark, strong storm & Jesus on water! - they were "dead-silent" even to talk to Jesus. They had their doubts - is it really Jesus? They could not believe that Jesus could walk on water! Next thing is that they found the boat more safe and dare not to do anything. When peter became a "public-failure" by beginning to sink while walking on water, the rest were worst failures - just sitting inside unnoticed/uncriticised!! What really happened to them is given in the parallel'of Jn 6:52. They did not understand the miracle of the bread, for their heart was hardened. But before we criticise those 11, let's look how many times we did the same thing in our life? How many times we had the "little-faith" of Peter to trust Jesus and get out of our comfort zone and be with Him? There are some “boats” that we have in this life that we tend to stay in for dear life. One of the boats that we tend to stay in for dear life is known as our “comfort zone”. Most of the times we were afraid!
When we look into the passage we see 5 different stages in the experience of walking with Jesus. There is always
- a call - to go out to the other shore - our journey of faith with Jesus
- a fear when troubles/stroms arise, we're afraid
- a reassurance - if we call out to Him, He'll reassure us & comfort us
- a decision and as a result
- a changed life!
We are all called to be walking with Jesus and often on water! Let's remind ourselves that its not about where we're walking but with whom we're walking - is it with Jesus or by our own in our comfort zone? And of course we're scared to do strange things. Do you know what is the reason for our fears?
- We're reluctant to accept our "Pilgrim" status in this world - look at the Hall of faith in Hebrews 11
- we're some times unwilling to bow to the sovereign providences of God - we want the control
- we lack faith in the goodness of God - a friend said to me once "I'm scared to ask God to take full control of my life!" &
- We're so easily influenced by the attitude of the age we live in! - What would he/she will say?
Let's look at what the Bible tells us to do when we're afraid. For e.g.:
Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not fear. What can flesh do to me? (Ps. 56:3-4).
Another point is that there is always a risk - whether we see it or not! So why do Jesus allow such in our lives and call us to walk on water with Him?
- its the only way to growth and esp. that of faith
- there is excitement in walking over water
- its part of discovery and obeying our call and
- of course Jesus is standing outside of our comfort-zone!
Like Peter if we get out- there is chance for failure. But remember that He is there with us! So we're never failing alone contrary to the situation if we're in the boat. And He will not let us be destroyed - He's going to help. But we have to make that decision that we're going to walk with Him! And we can be assured that our life is going to be changed- and we become part of His action to redeem the world if we say "yes" to Him. But if we say "no", the change will be reverse and we'll get a little harder! And remember that Peter only asked for an opportunity and not a promise that he never sinks!!
Anytime the Lord commands us to step out in faith to do a great work for him, but yet we allow fear or doubt to take control of us, and we don’t move when the Lord says move because we don’t want to leave our comfort zone, we are in a “boat” that we don’t want to step out of. And anytime we refuse to step out in faith to do a work for the Lord because we don’t want to get out of our boats because of the comfort zone it presents, we will miss out on the blessing that the Lord has for us. In order for us sometimes to receive the blessings that God has for us, we must sometimes step out of our boats because our blessings may be out in the water and not in the boat. And when you step out of the boat, expect some storms to rise, expect some troubles to rise here and there; but don’t fear because as you step out of the boat to do a great work for the Lord, He will be right there to keep you safe in the storm.
So let's decide that we're going to make that change happen, we're going to decide for Him from now-on-wards. We may have to reject good for God's Best! May the Lord bless you and keep you.
The call 'come' is not just for Peter alone, it is for all of us! Would you allow your fears to take control of you? Or would you put your trust in Jesus and step-out? What ever be the decision, remember that there is a change!