Walking on Water

After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

During the fourth watch of the night, Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

  • Jesus has just fed the 5,000 and now he’s about to go walking on the water. And yet sandwiched between those two astonishing miracles is his private, devotional prayer life with his heavenly Father. As much as we might be amazed by these miracles, could it be that we underestimate the significance of our own prayer life?
  • Matthew, the former tax collector, records this historical event matter-of-factly: “Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.” This happened.
  • Of course, the disciples weren’t expecting this. They didn’t have a category for what they were seeing so they naturally assume that this is something out of fiction or the demonic world. But Jesus reassures them, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” This wouldn’t be the last time Jesus would have to reassure them that he was no ghost.
  • Peter believes that it’s Jesus. The “if” is not so much an expression of doubt, but of faith. If he’s going to go out on the water, it will only be because Jesus has commanded. Because if Jesus has commanded you to do something, no matter how impossible it may seem, then he will enable you to obey.
  • Peter’s goal is not to walk on water, primarily. Peter’s desire is to be with Jesus: “tell me to come to you.”
  • While Peter’s gaze is fixed on Christ, he has a proper perspective on the wind and waves, namely, they are nothing compared to Jesus’ power. But as soon as he loses sight of Christ, he loses a proper perspective and begins to sink. What difference would it make if we viewed our troubles and fears rightly in comparison to Jesus?
  • Here’s the gospel: the story does not end with the twelve disciples dancing on the water victoriously. No, they are cowering in the boat while Peter is about to drown. And Jesus reaches out his hand and catches Peter, and then he calms the storm. He is truly the Son of God who saves those who are drowning, and yet who cry out to him, “Lord, save me!” These are imperfect disciples whom Jesus loved and saved. This is a picture of us.
  • As an old man, did Peter ever brag to his friends about the time he walked on the water? Or, did he talk about the time his faith faltered and yet Jesus reached out and saved him?

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