A Life of Faith
Peter walked on water. Think about that for a moment; he actually walked on water. And no, he was not walking on ice or walking on some water that was spilled onto the ground. Peter walked on a raging sea—the very same sea that had him and the other disciples crying out in fear moments beforehand.
How did we get to this point in the story? How did we get to the point where Peter decides to step out of the “safety” of the boat and into the raging sea? The disciples were exhausted. They had begun the day trying to go to a desolate place, away from the crowds because they had just received news of the death of John the Baptist. Instead, they ended up being greeted by a crowd of over 5,000 people (probably close to 15-20,000). Then after helping Jesus minister to this crowd, they served them a meal. They were in charge of having the people sit in groups, bringing them food, and finally going back through and taking up the leftovers. If their day had ended there, it would have been crazy enough. Yet, at the end of this, Jesus sent them back across the sea in boat.
Just crossing the sea would have been tiring enough, but as Jesus would have it, they ran into a storm. The disciples are now battling a storm and fighting for their lives in the sheer darkness (sometime between 3-6am). They are exhausted both physically and mentally. And if this was not enough, they then see someone walking across the sea towards them, and Mark tells us that He was walking as if to walk right past them. With all of this in mind, it is understandable that 12 grown men cried out in fear and thought they were seeing a ghost. At this point, when all seems lost, Jesus calls out to them and simply says, “Take heart, it is I. Do not be afraid.”
This is where we are when Peter asks to come out to Jesus. The storm is still raging; the disciples are still exhausted. Yet Peter, seeing Jesus, asks to leave the relative safety of the boat to go out and walk on the raging sea. And he does! He leaves the boat and steps out onto the tossing waves. He had complete faith in Jesus. He put his life in Jesus’ hands and obeyed His call to come. Too often we can glance past this part of the story. We don’t take time to reflect on what this must have been like. Imagine what it would have been like to be Peter. He had spent his entire life out on the sea as a fisherman; never once had he imagined he would walk on the surface of the water. Yet Peter is growing and changing; his life is in the process of being completely transformed by Jesus. He stepped out, his faith completely fixed on Jesus. Faith leads us to take God inspired risks. Peter did not just jump out of the boat or assume that he could walk on water because Jesus could. He asked Jesus and responded to His call.
However, as Peter was out on the raging sea, his focus began to change. Instead of focusing on Jesus, he began to see the wind and the waves. He started to remember that it was not normal to be out walking on the sea. His experience on the sea began to kick back in, and he realized the danger of the waves and the storm and he began to sink. And as he began to sink, he cried out to Jesus. He knew that he needed Jesus to rescue him. His fear of the waves and the storm reminded him of his desperate need for Jesus. Jesus compassionately reached out, rescued Peter, and calmed the storm.
This account is an amazing illustration of the Christian life. It so accurately pictures the up and down nature of our life of faith. It shows how that our walk of faith with Christ is an ongoing journey with highs and lows. Peter experienced many victories and failures in that one day alone. He was stretched to trust Jesus to provide food for the multitude when it would have been easier to send them away. He was able to experience the magnitude of this miracle as he served the meal and took up left overs. On the boat he went from fear, to incredible faith, back to fear, and then to rescue and safety in the matter of minutes. As we walk with Christ, we will experience similar ups and downs. A life of faith is a growing process. There will be victories followed by failures and mistakes. Living by faith will not just be one incredible victory or amazing experience after another. A life of faith will be one where we are continually being brought back to the feet of Jesus and surrendering to Him over and over again - just as Peter did on that eventful night.