Matthew 14:27-31 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
I like Peter. Far too often he gets a bad rap for some of the things that he has done. We can clearly see the humanity of Peter in the gospels and in all of his ups and downs. I find that encouraging because far too often I don't measure up in the way I feel that I should, and I'm sure in the way that God wants me to.
Although Peter had his flaws, he also had his strengths and was one of the greatest men in the New Testament. Yes, he bailed out on the Lord the night He was arrested. He followed from afar and denied Him. But he also was restored and preached at Pentecost. He was the driving force of the early church in the first part of the book of Acts. I like Peter.
This story falls right in line with Peter's life. In the same story we find the strength of Peter mixed with a weakness. He sees Jesus coming to them in the midst of a storm walking on the water. Instead of looking on in admiration or astonishment, Peter asked Jesus if he could also walk on the water. Jesus agrees to his request.
Peter was impetuous – you knew how he felt, what he was thinking, and what he wanted right away. All it took was one word from Jesus to prompt Peter to leap out of the boat and walk on the stormy sea. That one word was “come.” He didn't need a detailed explanation; he didn't need an assurance that everything would be alright. He heard that word from Jesus and in faith and obedience out he went onto the water.
Then we see the downside and the weakness of Peter. Instead of keeping his eyes focused on Christ he was derailed by all that was taking place around him. The seas, the storm, and the wind all contributed to him taking his eyes off of Christ. Because he focused on the turbulence, he began to sink. At least he knew where to go to get help. He immediately cried out to the Lord to save him. Not wanting to waste this opportunity, Jesus used this as a teaching moment for Peter.
Its Jesus response to Peter that I want us to notice. His question to Peter details two problems that caused Peter to sink in the first place. The very problems that caused him to sink right after he became the second and last person ever to walk on the water. Jesus response was: “O thou of little faith wherefore didst thou doubt?”
These are the two things that allowed him to walk on water. First, he had a strong faith in his Saviour and in the word that Christ gave him. Second, he was able to silence the doubts that would have caused him to focus on the storm and keep him from asking if he could walk on the water in the first place. Those two strengths had also become a weakness and caused his failure. But how?
Let’s look at his faith. How could he have little faith when he actually was walking on the water? Because he did not have the faith to continue in what he was already doing. How many of us start out doing something strong in faith only to flame out later? There is a myriad of pitfalls and reasons for not continuing. We have spiritual enemies that set up those pitfalls and flame the fires of those reasons. But the fact of the matter is that our faith should be strengthened when it is exercised successfully.
Let's be careful that we're not like Elijah who experienced a lack of faith right after a tremendous victory against the false prophets of Baal. I have always loved that little word “continue.” You find it throughout the New Testament where God exhorts us to not just serve Him today, not just do the right things today, but to have a life of continuing in the things of God until the day we die.
Now let’s look at his other issue – doubt. How could he start to doubt when he had already been acting without it? Because he let what was going on around him change his view about what he had been doing. What he had been doing successfully to him now seemed dangerous. Walking toward the Saviour confidently now became treacherous because of the storm raging around him.
How often are newer Christians fearless in their faith? They're so excited about their newfound life that they go about in reckless abandonment seeking to obey the Saviour no matter what the consequences. Why is it that the longer we're saved, the more we calm down? This ought not to be.
The longer we’re saved, the more confidence we should have in God despite all that's going on around us. How easy it is to take our eyes off the Saviour and be distracted by the noise and nonsense around us. We must understand that the God who brought us to where we are can continue to take us to where we should be!
Let's not let our faith be silenced, causing us to discontinue our pursuit of the Saviour. Let's ignore that screaming doubt that causes us to calm down in our fervor for the Lord. We need a strong faith that overcomes any tendencies to be cautious in our obedience to Christ.
We are to be an example not only to the believer but also to the non-believer.
Believing without seeing, taking God at His Word, having confidence in God.