Most people, whether they go to church or not, know something about the New Testament account of Jesus walking on water. We all have probably heard jokes that assume we have some knowledge of Jesus doing so. Many of those who know something about the account of Jesus walking on water also know that Peter joined him.
Both Matthew and Mark tell about Jesus, but only Matthew tells us about Peter. Both tell how the disciples went ahead of Jesus in the boat, how they were having trouble going into the wind, and how Jesus walked on the water to them. Both tell how the disciples saw Jesus, thought he was a ghost, and were afraid. And both quote Jesus as saying, “Take heart, it is I; have no fear.”
Only Matthew tells that after Jesus identified himself, Peter answered, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus invited Peter, and he responded by walking on the water to Jesus. Matthew 14:30 and 31 report, “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’”
Here’s a question to ponder: should we compliment Peter or criticize him? In my experience I have heard a lot more criticism of Peter than I have compliments. And I don’t think that is fair, do you?
No doubt, there is a note of scolding in Jesus’ words to him afterwards: Peter’s faith shrank and doubt entered. And there is certainly a challenge for us today in hearing what Jesus said to him. All of us probably need to cultivate more faith and chip away at our doubt.
But I want to compliment Peter. He did ask Jesus to call him to come to him. And Peter did walk on the water. I admire Peter’s courage for getting out of the boat. There were 11 others in that boat that night who did not ask Jesus to call them and who did not walk on the water. Peter’s faith was not as strong as it could have been, and the wind did cause him to doubt, but he walked on the water.
I’ve tried to imagine the discussion in the boat later that night among Peter and the others. I seriously doubt if anyone was critical of Peter. I’m confident they wanted to know what it was like to walk on water; and other than Jesus, Peter was the only one who could tell them.
Should we compliment Peter or criticize him? I’m perfectly willing to let Jesus do any correcting that is necessary, and I’ll compliment Peter.
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For one moment he had the courage to step out and abandon everything he knew and the reality of this world we cling to. I can only imagine it would feel like total peace in surrender. What a lovely thought! A loving rebuke maybe, for what Father would not want his child to experience more. Gave me something to think about, thanks for the Gem.
Peter had the faith of a mustard seed to call to Jesus and then step out of the boat. While his focus (trust) was on Jesus, everything was good. But when his focus turned to the danger of the water, doubt (Satan) gained a foothold and he began to sink. His focus turned back to Jesus when he cried out, and Jesus came to Peter’s rescue. It seems to me to be a beautiful picture of the constant redemption Jesus gives us everyday. All we have to do is trust him fully. It is easy to say we trust Jesus when times are good and things are going well. The real trust is when we are in the ditch, and need His power to overcome adversity. Do we still trust in God to provide when all seems to be lost? That is the real test. And Peter shows he was able to refocus and overcome. Great lesson.
It’s pretty hard to step out of our comfort zones. I like to imagine that Peter’s faith in Christ must have been pretty strong, but just as happens to us, it wavered as he began to focus on himself rather than Jesus. It’s good we have a merciful and gracious Lord that watches and cares for us.