To WALK on WATER, GET OUT of your BOAT
October 12 Bible Reading: Matthew Chapters 13-15
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?" (Matt. 14:25-31)
Peter is the only other person apart from Jesus Christ to walk on water, and only the Gospel of Matthew records this miracle in detail. The purpose of this miracle was to teach the disciples a valuable lesson: they could do the impossible if only they have faith in the person and power of Christ! This life lesson happened right after another great miracle of Jesus feeding five thousand men besides women and children with just five loaves and two fish (vv. 13-21). Jesus had proved to His disciples that He could abundantly provide for their needs. Now, Jesus wanted to teach His disciples that He could protect and empower them as well.
The lake of Galilee was a place of danger, and several times storms were occasions for Jesus to test and teach His disciples. Since His disciples needed to exercise their faith, Jesus dismissed the crowds and "made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side" (v. 22). That night, about three to four miles out in the lake (John 6:19), the disciples encountered great difficulty from a wind that blew upon the lake. Even though Jesus was praying alone far away, He saw the plight of the disciples as they battled a contrary wind and waves that battered their boat (Ps. 69:1–3). In the words of G. Campbell Morgan: “He is nigh when He seems absent. He is watching when He seems blind. He is active when He seems idle.”
It was then that Jesus came walking to them on the water “in the fourth watch of the night” (v. 25). This was near sunrise, indicating that the disciples had spent virtually the entire night struggling with the stormy conditions. These nearly exhausted disciples’ panicked thinking that they were seeing a ghost. But immediately they heard the reassuring voice of their Lord and Master, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid” (v. 27). This is so true to our own life experience! We are often storm-tossed, perplexed, in despair, and God seems to be far away. But we should remember that during this time He is praying for us, and when the night seems darkest He is always near at hand to help. We will then hear His comforting voice and remember that the waves that caused us to fear are actually under His feet!
It was then that Peter wanted to walk on the water like Jesus. To do that, he had to place his total trust in Jesus, put his feet on the water believing that it would turn into a solid support to carry his weight, and keep on looking at Jesus who had His arms stretched out to him. As soon as Jesus said, “Come” (v. 29), Peter jumped out of the boat and began walking toward Him. As long as he kept his eyes on Jesus, he was able to do the impossible; but the minute he became occupied with the strong wind, he began to sink. Frantically he cried, “Lord, save me!” Jesus then took him by the hand, gently rebuked his little faith, and brought him to the boat. As soon as Jesus was in the boat, the wind ceased, and the disciples worshiped saying to Jesus, “Truly You are the Son of God” (v. 33).
We can learn seven lessons from this incident: (1) our courage comes from knowing that Jesus is always present with us (Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5-6), (2) the answer to our fears is to put our faith in Jesus and upon His Word to protect us, (3) fear disables us from moving forward and causes us to shrink from doing right, (4) looking at Jesus and trusting in His Word changes our fears into faith, (5) we start doubting when we get our eyes off Jesus and from His Word to look at our circumstances, (6) our faith is strengthened when we confess the divine enablement of Jesus in our lives (Phil. 4:13), and (7) to walk on water we should get off our boat (like Peter).
In the midst of the storms that come in our lives, let us trust in the presence and power of God. Trusting in His presence and power is the antidote for all our fears. Today, let us look to Jesus by faith and trust His word as we move forward in our life journey.