Matthew – God’s Purposes
In my lifetime I have heard many sermons on this passage. Some speakers will tell us that Peter should have had more faith so we should have more faith. Some will tell us that Peter was so impetuous and unpredictable in his actions and that’s why he began to sink on his walk. Others will say Peter was wrong to ask to be like Jesus and walk with him on the water. A few sermonaters will applaud Peter and tell us, “At least he got out of the sinking boat on the troubled sea to come to Jesus!” So, you see there are a lot of ways you can go with this passage. Let us stop and pray right now and see what God wants to say to our hearts.
As we serve as fill in teachers on the field in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, impetuously with our whole hearts, we are tenaciously focused on Jesus and His purpose for us here. God called. We jumped from the boat that was called home, family, church family and friends. We made the decision to not only come for a month but four months after hearing God speak through our pastor’s sermon one Sunday afternoon. In minutes after making that decision, two weeks before leaving, we had a list of 36 items that would have to be dealt with before leaving. God took care of every item, including raising support that was increased times four. But our Jesus walks on water, He can do this.
On the first night we arrived, we calculated the support that was pouring in by YOU who believed in the One who walks on water and believed in us who believed in Jesus. God asked you to give and you did. ALL of our support was provided by the first evening of being here in Bolivia. We got out of the boat, God provided, and you joined us! We cried tears of joy and praised God all night long that first night. Amazement and wonder are very small words to describe how God works and how we felt.
As we finish month three, I will be honest. Rough waters pulled our eyes off the One who walks on water for a bit because of challenging circumstances, but fortunately not for long. We called out to Jesus to help us, for like Peter, the waves pulled our eyes from the One who said to “Come.” We wanted what Peter asked of Christ.
“Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
What we were really asking for was needed affirmation that are here because HE called and invited us here, not that we just jumped from the “boat” to see if we could make it on the mission field for more than a month. Are You with us in this? Are we doing what you asked? How strong is our faith and hope in You? Are we willing to go the distance and finish well because You are walking beside us? “Lord, if it’s really you…tell me to come…”
All our questions were answered before we sank…just like Peter who was taken by the Hand of Jesus and pulled up to walk with Him again…back to the boat that was bobbing around like a cork on the troubled sea. Can you imagine the other disciples as they watched this whole episode while trying to handle the boat Peter jumped from?
As we read with understanding, we remember that the boat was in trouble, too! Do we stay or do we jump?
Matthew 14, NLT
Jesus Walks on Water
22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.
24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”
32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.
34 After they had crossed the lake, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 When the people recognized Jesus, the news of his arrival spread quickly throughout the whole area, and soon people were bringing all their sick to be healed. 36 They begged him to let the sick touch at least the fringe of his robe, and all who touched him were healed.
DIGGING DEEPER STILL…
“JESUS INSISTED THE DISCIPLES GET INTO THE BOAT…” After the feeding of the 5000, the multitudes wanted to make Jesus King, but for the wrong reasons and at the wrong time. Jesus did not want his disciples caught up in all the talk. His time was not right.
This experience of the disciples in the storm can be an encouragement to us when we go through the storms of life. When we find ourselves in the storm, we can rest on several assurances.
“He brought me here.”
The storm came because they were in the will of God and not (like Jonah) out of the will of God. Did Jesus know that the storm was coming? Certainly! Did He deliberately direct them into the storm? Yes! They were safer in the storm in God’s will than on land with the crowds out of God’s will. We must never judge our security on the basis of circumstances alone.
“As we read our Bibles, we discover that there are two kinds of storms: storms of correction, when God disciplines us, and storms of perfection, when God helps us to grow. Jonah was in a storm because he disobeyed God and had to be corrected. The disciples were in a storm because they obeyed Christ and had to be perfected. Jesus had tested them in a storm before, when He was in the boat with them (Matt. 8:23–27). But now He tested them by being out of the boat.”
“Many Christians have the mistaken idea that obedience to God’s will produces “smooth sailing.” But this is not true. “In the world ye shall have tribulation,” Jesus promised (John 16:33). When we find ourselves in the storm because we have obeyed the Lord, we must remember that He brought us here and He can care for us.” (Warren Wiersbe Commentary).
Are you not crying with tears of joy over these words of assurance?
“He is praying for me.”
This entire scene is a dramatic picture of the church and the Lord today. God’s people are on the sea, in the midst of a storm. Yet Jesus Christ is in heaven “making intercession for us” (Rom. 8:34). He saw the disciples and knew their plight (Mark 6:48), just as He sees us and knows our needs. He feels the burdens that we feel and knows what we are going through (Heb. 4:14–16). Jesus was praying for His disciples, that their faith would not fail.
If you knew that Jesus Christ was in the next room, praying for you, would it not give you new courage to endure the storm and do His will? Of course it would. He is not in the next room, but He is in heaven interceding for you. He sees your need, He knows your fears, and He is in control of the situation.
“He will come to me.”
Often we feel like Jesus has deserted us when we are going through the hard times of life. Jesus always comes to us in the storms of life. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you” (Isa. 43:2). He may not come at the time we think He should come, because He knows when we need Him the most. He waited until the ship was as far from land as possible, so that all human hope was gone.
He was testing the disciples’ faith, and this meant removing every human prop. Why did Jesus walk on the water? To show His disciples that the very thing they feared (the sea) was only a staircase for Him to come to them. Often we fear the difficult experiences of life (such as surgery or bereavement), only to discover that these experiences bring Jesus Christ closer to us.
“He will help me grow.”
This was the whole purpose of the storm, to help the disciples grow in their faith. After all, Jesus would one day leave them, and they would face many storms in their ministries.
“He will see me through.”
If Jesus says, “Come,” then that word is going to accomplish its intended purpose. Since He is the “author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2), whatever He starts, He completes. We may fail along the way, but in the end, God will succeed. Jesus and Peter walked on the water together and went to the ship.
Oh, brothers and sisters in faith…listen to what God is telling this day.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for your love, care, protection, provision and a million blessings on top…far more than we can think or imagine! Thank you for coming to us. Thank you for rescuing us. Thank you for affirming us and being our strength, wisdom and clarity of the mission you invited us to join you in service to you for your glory! Thank you for telling us to come to you. You are our everything.
In Jesus Name, Amen