It was a dark and stormy night. The winds howled. The seas churned. The disciples strained against the waves as they tried in vain to guide their boat across the Sea of Galilee. All the power of creation seemed to be against them and they were no doubt afraid. Yet, later that night, during the 4th watch, their fear of the storm was replaced by abject terror: Out on the sea they saw what appeared to be a ghost approaching them on the water. One dreadful fear was replaced by another!
As the figure drew near, He spoke to the frightened disciples. “Be of good cheer; it is I. Do not be afraid.” It was the Lord!
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!” (Matthew 14:28-30, NKJV).
Sometimes overlooked in the amazing story of Jesus walking on the water was that an ordinary man, Peter, also walked on the water that night. Of course we know that Jesus could walk on water; just as He could change water to wine, feed 5000 with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish, just as He could raise people from the dead and heal the blind. Jesus was, of course, the Creator of all things; He had dominion over all the earth and He could literally do anything He wanted to do. He was God in the flesh. But Peter? He was impetuous. He was loud. He often acted before he thought. He often opened his mouth and inserted his foot. Peter was literally you and I personified. Yet, it says so right in the Bible – Matthew 14:29: Peter walked on water!
There is a song that we sing periodically that contains these words that remind me of Peter’s miraculous walk:
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”
That night on the Sea of Galilee, Peter turned his eyes upon Jesus and he walked on water to Him. He defied nature. He did what should be impossible for a human being to do. Yet, let there be no doubt, Peter walked on water! But when he took his eyes off the Lord and saw the storm, the sea, the dangerous reality of life, Peter began to sink. What an incredible lesson there is in this story for us!
Jesus would later say that 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). I have read this verse countless times and I think I know exactly what Jesus meant when He spoke those words. Yet, in times of crisis, in the midst of life’s storms, that mustard seed can sometimes be nowhere in sight. Too many times I am just looking at the wind and waves rather than looking “full in His wonderful face”.
The truth is that life is full of storms. Sometimes they come from out of nowhere like a sneak attack. At other times they roll in one after another. In either case, the temptation is always preset to try and fix things all by ourselves; to literally hang on to the sides of the boat and depend on our own skill and strength to stay afloat. Yet, in Peter, we are reminded of a better way: Keep your eyes firmly fixed on Jesus and step out in faith. He that defeated sin and death will also calm the storms in your life. In the darkness of the storms of life, Jesus will light the way with His glory and grace.