Imagine the scene. The tiny fishing boat was battered and buffeted by gales and gusts. Rain pelted their faces as Peter, Andrew, James and John, professional fishermen, expertly manned the oars. They were strong young men and capable of fighting against the wind and the waves, but this was a losing battle.
Just a few hours before, Jesus had taken a little boy’s happy meal, blessed it, broke it, and fed a multitude of hungry people. He didn’t give them just a nibble. He filled their bellies. “When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, ‘This truly is the Prophet who is to come into the world.’ Therefore, when Jesus realized that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain by himself’ ” (John 6:14–21). While Jesus went up the mountain to privately spend hours in prayer, He directed His disciples to travel by boat to the other side of Galilee.
“Well into the night, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and he was alone on the land” (Mark 6:48). The Sea of Galilee is seven or eight miles wide. They were halfway across and Jesus “saw them straining at the oars” (Mark 6:48). “The boat was ... battered by the waves, because the wind was against them” (Matthew 14:24).
Jesus knows when we’re in the storm! So, “Jesus came toward them walking on the sea very early in the morning” (Matthew 14:25).
Again, use your imagination. Through the driving rain they could just make out the odd shape, the shape of a man walking across the turbulent sea. It couldn’t be! They were miles from shore. They blinked and wiped their eyes, struggling to focus. One of the disciples exclaimed, “It’s a ghost!” (Matthew 14:26).
“Immediately he spoke with them saying, ‘Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid’ ” (Mark 6:50). They recognized His voice before they could clearly see His distinguishing features.
Peter, always the first one to speak, cried out, “Lord, if it’s you ... command me to come to you on the water” (Matthew 14:28). I can’t help wondering if John, maybe too quietly to be heard by the others, groaned, “Shut up Peter! Don’t be stupid. You can’t walk on water!”
When Jesus commanded Peter to “come” (Matthew 14:29), Peter swung a leg over the side of the boat. His first steps were a bit tentative as he began walking on the waves. Courageously, obediently, faithfully, Peter made his way toward Jesus. Until... “when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ ”(Matthew 14:30).
When Peter took his eyes off Jesus, when his attention was drawn to the wind and waves, he sank. That’s what happens to us when we’re focused on the worries and troubles of today.
The story ends as Peter and Jesus climbed aboard the boat. “When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those in the boat worshiped him and said, ‘Truly you are the Son of God’ ” (Matthew 14:32-33).
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.