Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
“If you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat!” How many times have I heard that over the years—and not just in a Christian context. People say that all the time when they are talking about doing something risky. What does that mean to me as a disciple of Jesus? We know the law of gravity; we know that anything heavy that goes into water will sink to the bottom. That would include me!! But there is a much deeper meaning here—it is about trusting Jesus. Getting out of the boat means total surrender to the call of Jesus. It means taking that risk to do something out of the ordinary, maybe even dangerous, because He has asked us to do it.
Can you imagine the thrill Peter had as he stepped out of the boat and did something that is humanly impossible? Unhindered, he walked as if he were walking on dry land. Jesus called him to do something extraordinary. For a few moments, he experienced something no other living person has ever done except Jesus. I found it interesting that this account was not in any of the other gospels. They talked about Jesus walking on the water, that the disciples thought he was a ghost, and how he got into the boat with them, but only the book of Matthew tells the story of Peter walking on the water. Peter was doing great until all of a sudden he started looking around at his circumstances and his logic kicked in. He must have thought, “Hey wait a minute, what am I doing out here? I’m not supposed to be able to do this!” I tend to do the same thing. God has done amazing things in my life, yet I can look around at my circumstances and in the natural, they don’t make sense. I can doubt that what has happened is from Him. That is when I start sinking!
The more I study the bible, I realize the great love Peter had for Jesus. I recently read a commentary that talked about how so many of the things Peter did was because he wanted to be near Jesus, to stand up for Him, to follow Him out of pure love. Even the night he denied Him, he was still the only disciple that hung around; he wanted to be close to Him even then. The others had disappeared. After I read that, I started thinking about how this happened when Peter was alone, away from his support group (the disciples); that is when he was questioned about his relationship to Jesus and fear set in. I know that is when I am my weakest—when I have not had contact with my small group, or there have been several weeks since I have been to church. I am isolated from the Body and that is never a good place for us to be.
Peter experienced great highs (walking on water) and great lows (denying Jesus) in his time as a disciple of Jesus. Jesus loved him just as much in both instances. He rejoiced in the highs and forgave the lows. One of my favorite verses is where Jesus tells Peter, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32)
The bible tells us that Jesus is seated at the right hand of God and is interceding for all the saints. I believe the prayer He prayed for Peter is for us as well. Many of us have been sifted by Satan. We may have fallen and lost our way for some time. But because Jesus has prayed for us, our faith did not fail. We have stories to tell, testimonies of the miracles God has done in our lives. Then we tell those stories to others. That is how we strengthen our brothers.
And through it all, Jesus loves us.
Heavenly Father, I ask for the kind of trust that allows us to do the supernatural. I pray that we will get out of that safe boat and experience the freedom of walking on water. There is adventure in following Jesus. Please don’t let us miss it. In His name I pray, Amen.