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Peter's Walk Of Faith

Peter’s Walk Of Faith

(Kent Heaton)

 

Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid." And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." 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?" And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, "Truly You are the Son of God." (Matthew 14:22-33)

 

Peter’s walk on the water is one of the powerful stories of scripture that show the faith of a man who trusted in the unknown because of his faith in the known. Peter, Andrew, James and John were seasoned fishermen. They had spent their lives on the water and understood the dangers of storms. How familiar the other eight men were to sailing these rough seas is not known but this night twelve men of Galilee were in the battle for their lives as their boat was tossed by the wind and waves. In the early morning mist of early morning they witnessed a most terrifying scene. They thought they saw a man walking on the water. They thought it was a ghost.

 

PETER WAS AFRAID OF THE UNKNOWN (V26). A lifetime of fishing had given Peter the assurance that men do not walk on water. He had fallen in the water a few times no doubt and heard of friends who perished drowning in the sea. Being battered about with a storm will tax the nerves and fray the consciousness of any sailor. But then to behold in the midst of this tumult a figure of a man walking on water would bring certain fear. Along with the eleven, Peter cried out in fear. This unknown terrified the heart and went against all logic and reason. They were seeing things as all men view the unknown; with trepidation. There could be no explanation for such an event. Fear is the worry of what we do not understand. When we live our lives in fear it is often because of what we do not know or understand. There is a result in living without knowledge that finds itself in the love of God.

 

PETER WAS UNAFRAID OF THE KNOWN (V27). Jesus reassures the disciples there is no need of fear because what they are seeing is not a ghost but rather their Lord. The day before Jesus had shown his power by feeding five thousand men (not counting the women and children). The Lord had shown the disciples the miracles of healing (Matthew 4:23-25; 8:1-17; 9:1-8) and had previously exhibited His power over the wind and waves (Matthew 8:23-27). Jesus exhorts the fearful men there is no need to fear because “It is I.” The apostle John would later write, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love cast out fear because fear involves torment” (1 John 4:18). Peter was in the midst of a storm watching a man walk on water and he was not afraid because it was Jesus. How calming the reassurance of the presence of the Lord will remove all fear.

 

PETER WAS WILLING TO ACCEPT THE UNKNOWN (VV28-29). Remarkably and almost immediately Peter sees an opportunity to experience the same power of his Lord. Without hesitation Peter accepts the realities that if Jesus can walk on water then it will be possible for him to walk on water. His mind was clear in seeing through faith the impossibility becoming the possible. He asked a most incredible favor. “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” The other disciples must have looked at Peter and thought him crazy. Peter was leaning over the bow of the boat talking to a man standing on water in the midst of a violent storm and he wants to step out of the boat and walk on water? Some men seize the moment and some are seized by the moment. Peter steps over the railing and puts his foot on the water. His eyes must have filled with wonder as he placed both feet on the tempestuous sea and began walking. Did he turn for a moment and look at the faces of the eleven staring in disbelief? Would his heart be able to endure the excitement of the unknown being accomplished? His faith had given him the courage to do the most impossible thing. In that moment of rarified air the disciple walked with his Lord. He was endued with the same power of His Lord. When we have the faith to step out of the boat and trust the Lord we can accomplish anything. It takes a lot of faith to put the leg over the side and stand on the impossible. Jesus will remind the twelve of this later when He said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20). Peter was moving a mountain in the midst of the sea.

 

PETER WAS UNWILLING TO ACCEPT THE KNOWN (V30). What started as fear turned to courage failed for lack of faith. Only Peter had stepped out of the boat. Only Peter could tell disciples later that he walked on water. But it was Peter who would have to tell the “rest of the story” of when in the moment of his greatest victory of faith he took his eyes away from the source of his miracle to the realities of the storm. The waves were splashing around him soaking him and the wind whistled in fury as the foam of the water hurled itself in torrents of rain. He had the courage to ignore those realities when he first stepped out of the boat but now as he walked on water and confidence grew in his heart his faith began to waver. Fear returned but instead of fearing the unknown he feared the known. Sinking in the storm Peter cries out for the Lord to save him. The measure of his faith shrank in the face of what he saw with his eyes. He doubted the protection of the Lord. His trust began to be in himself. He was sinking in his own disbelief. It took great courage to believe he could walk on water and greater faith to make that first step. But faith must continue in the face of adversity. Our faith will be tested at times in the moments of our greatest victories to take our eyes off of the Lord and focus on ourselves. Without the power of God in our lives we will sink in the despair of our own pride. The only salvation we have is to trust in the Lord. Peter cried out to the Lord and he was saved.

 

There are many things in life that bring fear. The unknown is a universe of questions that can fill the heart with dread. Man alone facing the unknown can only find fear. Jeremiah reminds us “the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). With all of our wisdom man is still made “a little lower than the angels” (Psalm 8) and limited in time and space. Our fears are real and without an answer will fill life with the uncertainty of human experience. Only when we realize He who walks on water as the Son of God and trust in His voice, His power, His love and His grace will man find his worth. What separates man from animals is prayer. Only man needs to pray and can pray and through this experience learns dependence upon the Creator. Wisdom is not found in man but God (1 Corinthians 1:18-25). Peter feared the unknown but gained strength when he realized it was the Son of God. Our lives can only be realized when we recognize the power of Jesus Christ and His power to walk on water, raise the dead, heal the sick, calm the storms and die on a cross for my sin. In the face of great victories we must never lose sight of whose power we live by. As Peter took his eyes off of Jesus to see the world as it was so we must not look at this world as our home. Faith can be destroyed when we begin to trust in this life and not the power of the life to come.

 

Peter walked on water. He walked by faith and he walked with courage. We can walk on water in faith and pressed by courage given to us by our Lord we will overcome. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15).