Today we come to two of the most familiar stories in Matthew’s Gospel — the feeding of the 5,000 and Jesus walking on water. They were two of my grandmother’s favorites. I can vividly remember her teaching my friends and me in our “Training Union.” She had a masterful way of illustrating the great stories of Jesus on the flannel board, and that was especially the case with Jesus walking on the water. Today, I want to make a few comments about Peter’s attempt to walk on the water along with Jesus.
When the disciples saw Jesus, they were afraid. Jesus eased their fears with his comforting voice. Peter decided that he wanted to join Jesus on the water. So, he stepped up in the boat and made a big request of Jesus, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Jesus said, “Come.”
For Peter to walk on the water with Jesus, he had to step out of the boat. He had to trust Jesus’ invitation to join him. He had the faith to step out of the comfortable confines of the boat. He had to act on his faith.
Peter stepped up and made a request of Jesus. He stepped out of the boat. But, he also had to step on the water. It was one thing to approach Jesus with the request to walk on water. That took faith. It was another thing to step out of the boat. That took faith. But, it’s a completely other thing to step on the water expecting it to hold his weight. That took a whole new level of faithful dependence on Jesus.
After taking a few steps on the water, Peter was once again overcome with fear. He quit focusing on Jesus and began to focus on the wind and the waves. He became concerned with the storm and forfeited his reliance upon Jesus. He began to sink, but Jesus reached out to save him.
Will You Step Up, Step Out, Step On, and Keep Your Focus on Jesus?
As you think on chapter 14 today, consider where Jesus is calling you to step up and bring bold requests to him. Consider where he’s calling you to step out of your comfort zones in order to follow him. Consider where he’s challenging you to step on the water in total faithful dependence upon him. Consider where you have lost focus on Jesus in your life.
Also, note that at every “step” in Peter’s experience Jesus was there in his grace. He graciously allowed Peter to boldly approach him. He graciously called Peter to step out on to the water. He graciously and miraculously caused the water to support Peter’s weight. He graciously reached out to rescue Peter when Peter failed to rely upon him in faith while walking on the water. He is graciously present with you as well. When he calls you to step out on faith, he guarantees that he will always be there with you, caring and providing for your every need.