In the past couple of years in talking with guys at the weekly Bible study I started thinking about which Bible stories were my favorites and why.
The “Walking on water” story always stuck with me. What I remember most was not that Jesus walked on water — he was the Son of God, he probably could have flown across the water Superman style if he had wanted. What I remember was that Peter also walked on water.
Before I break down why I love this story, here is the text from Matthew 14:
Jesus Walks on the Water
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,”he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,”he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
First take: Faith like a child
Once they saw that is was Jesus on the water, Peter was the only one to react, immediately asking to join Him. To me it was such a childlike thing to do. Without thought of consequence, Peter basically said, “That looks cool, can I try that?”
And when Jesus told him yes, Peter leaped out of the boat and onto the water.
All of the other guys in the boat saw the same thing, and probably thought it was “cool” as well, but Peter was the only one that wanted to get involved.
For me this reminds me of how a lot of Christians can get so wrapped up in their daily lives that when they see God working miracles, they tend to think, “that’s nice, look at what is going on over there.” They watch what God is doing to change lives in Mexico, Chile, Cambodia, or even in their own town, but choose to not get involved.
Peter not only saw that Jesus was doing something special, he wanted to be involved with it.
Second take: Crisis of confidence
Once out on the water, Peter encountered outside forces, the wind and waves, that were determined to bring him down — just like any time you go out on that limb to do work in God’s name.
When Peter realized he might be in trouble, his humanity took over and rather than relying on Jesus to keep him afloat, he began to look for his own solution.
He turned back to see if he was still close enough to get back in the boat. And when he took his eyes off of Jesus he began to sink.
Third take: Asking for help
Once Peter began to sink, it would have been easy for him to try swimming back to the boat. After all, how many of us, after we stumble and fall, tend to look for our own solutions only to wind up digging a deeper hole.
Peter, however, turned back to Jesus and asked for help. And he was saved.
In what has become a common quotation, Jesus said, “You of little Faith, why did you doubt?”
It is human nature to try and rely on ourselves when we face hardships. And though it may seem strange that someone who was willing to jump out of the boat in the first place, would then have doubts. It can happen to anyone.
Putting yourself out there for God can be scary thing. You may feel open and exposed. But you have to remember who has your back. Even if you stumble and fall, He is there to catch you.
So there it is, my favorite Bible story on Faith. A story about finding that moment when you find the Faith to go outside your comfort zone, and a lesson on keeping the Faith that got you there.
ps — Christian music artist Bryan Duncan has a great song about this titled, “Strollin’ on the water” which I will post later.