Peter Walks on Water With Jesus -Matthew 14:22-33
Updated: Feb 4
It was getting late, and the sun was low in the sky streaking amber colors throughout the clouds. As we headed back down off the hills toward the shoreline, we chatted about the miracle we had just witnessed with Jesus feeding approximately 5,000 people with just a young boy's lunch! Although Jesus must have been weary, his compassion for the crowds never faltered. He waved us onto the boats and said he'd take care of sending the crowd away and wanted time alone to pray up in the hills. Jesus was careful to keep a daily private time of prayer for himself; he always seemed refreshed after his time away.
We scramble into our boat and push off so as to separate from the crowd to help disperse the congregation. We floated just off shore for hours. With chilly air setting in and the desire for a soft bed, arguing erupted among us about our course of action. No one was sure if we should wait for Jesus and whether we were headed to Capernaum or Bethsaida on the other side of the sea of Galilee. With everyone weighing in their opinions, I'm feeling annoyed. Suddenly the wind kicks up a bit stronger than expected and snaps some rigging hard along the mast. With a firm and decisive announcement due to my years of commanding a sailing vessel, I yell, "Set sail- head toward Bethsaida- it is nine miles away,"
Sailing in the dark doesn't bother me, but the onset of some harsh wind gusts appearing almost out of nowhere does. Thick clouds have moved in swiftly blocking the reflection of the moon. The wind picks up force creating white caps across the wave crests. We are about four miles out, so not quite halfway to shelter at Philip's home. More arguing and panic sets in as swells of waves ebb us into deeper troughs. Frantically to avoid capsizing, a few of us get the sail down without being tossed overboard. A full gale sweeps in upon us. No matter how hard we row, the vessel bobs erratically at the mercy of the surging waves. Would tomorrow never come to us? Was this how our lives were going to end? Would Jesus wonder what happened to us? Would I see my family again?
Someone screams, "Look there!" -Almost in unison, we spot a moving image coming toward us. Saturated with the undulating spray of crashing waves against our vessel, we all try to clear our eyes. "Is it a ghost?!" comes a bellow from another. My heart which has been racing seems to jolt as my whole being is stunned. I stand and wrap my body around the mast to grip it tightly to get a better view. Everyone stares in consternation while grabbing the boat just forgetting to fight the waves. We are now focused on a new terror before our eyes.
Jesus calls out, "Be of good cheer, It is I, don't be afraid!"
My world has sudden silence- and a new focus as I see it is Jesus approaching despite the chaos still churning around us. He is not frightened, nor surprised and in fact he looks serene and calm. Holstering the energy of the moment and being strongly impacted by his peace, I impetuously yell to him, "Sir, if it is really you, tell me to come over to you, walking on water."
My brother Andrew yells my name,”Peter!”
Jesus responds with the command, "Alright, come along!"
Jesus’ courage, peace and strength defies my reasoning and with complete trust and abandonment, I jump over the boat and literally race toward him! I am doing the impossible! Keeping my eyes straight on Jesus, I marvel that I am so far away from the boat in a storm but safe! I turn to look around at my circumstances and fear wells up. Overwhelmed with my sight, I sink and in a split second I am swallowed by the wave. I desperately yell, "Save me, Lord!"
My next scream, "Jesus!" is muffled into just gurgling as water rushes over my head. Immediately a strong hand embraces my right arm and pulls me upward to the surface. Jesus' grip is strong and secure and he admonishes me over the howls of the storm, "Oh man of little faith, why did you doubt me?"
We walk together to the security of the boat defying the roar, the winds and swells. The others help us get in over the side of the boat. Suddenly that instant, the gale stopped, and we are at the port of Gennesaret!
We are awestruck, and we just sit there trying to make sense of what we just witnessed. It wasn't a dream for we are all dripping wet, and to prove it, I now have no sandals as they were shaken off when I sank!
"You really are the Son of God!" Nathaniel exclaimed and then it was repeated like an echo among others.
I sat there for a long moment thanking God that he spared my life and allowed the Son of God to touch me and save me out of today's trouble.
* photo above found on Pinterest
Questions for Reflection:
1. We see the importance of keeping our focus on Jesus when sudden "stormy trials" hit our life - blowing us out of control. We sink into depression or endure anxiety from fears when we "look around us" or dwell on our issues. Looking to Him who gives us hope, allows us to do what seems impossible. That is to be of good cheer and have peace. What does looking to Him mean to you? What does that look like practically? Your faith can lead you to amazing "Glory to God moments!"
2. Seeking solitude and prayer time with God was a priority for Jesus. It prepared him to face each day and gave him time for intercession and contemplation. While he walked on Earth as a man, He emptied Himself of his power (Philippians 2:7) and relied on the Holy Spirit and prayer for power and refreshment. If Jesus thought this was a good idea to add to each day, shouldn't we? What can we put in place in our lives to be sure we have valued time alone with God.
This account is found in three of the Gospels: Mark 6:45-52, Matthew 14:22-33 and John 6:17-21, but only Matthew gives the added detail of Peter jumping out of the boat to walk on water to Jesus. Possibly, it is left out of Mark's account since that Gospel is also known as the "Gospel of Peter." Educated Mark traveled with Peter and would have written down all that Peter shared with him. Peter may not have wanted to bring attention to himself.
When the storm hit, the disciples didn't expect for Jesus to come to help them. The storm didn't take Jesus by surprise; he knew that he was going to teach his disciples a valuable lesson in faith.
The Bible states in Hebrews 11:6 "Without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
Faith expects God to act. Faith takes away our fears and rewards those who use it. Jesus modeled for us how to mature in our faith by spending daily time alone in prayer with God and communing with the Holy Spirit. Our savior is willing to save not only our souls, but us presently from our daily problems too. He told the disciples in that storm, "Be of good cheer, it is I. Do not be afraid." Joh Courson (Pastor of Searchlight App) analyzes this point well. We are exhorted to be of good cheer -(praise with faith) and then the revelation -God is with us- and then peace without fear surrounds and fills us. Peter forgot all his fears and concentrated on the one who is peace and safety and the "refuge" and "rock." The momentary lapse of his "faith" caused him great stress and grief...BUT God....reached down and pulled him back up. Don't be discouraged if you falter, learn that His hand is there for you to grab. Place on the praise music - be of good cheer, and you will soon feel His strength. Then your anxieties will disperse - "great Glory to God moments" await you!
photo from YongSung Kim- Hand of God
The storm may have you end up in a different destination than you expected. Trust God with faith that something in His plan awaits you.
"Oh man of little faith, why did you doubt me?" ...don't be caught with little faith...then YOU suffer... and miss Him touching your life with making the impossible possible.
The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. Psalm 18:2
As the account is recorded in the Bible:
Psalm 34 Be Blessed!