“Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”“Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”- Matthew 14:28-31
Matthew’s account of Peter walking on water is one of the most widely known stories in the Bible. How crazy must that have been to witness? But some people criticize Peter because he began to sink. But none of the critics, or anyone for that matter, have repeated his feat. Peter was willing to put it all on the line. He and the other disciples had been straining against the waves and wind all night long when Jesus appeared to them, walking on the water. Peter was willing to literally step onto the water because He was looking at Jesus. That gave him confidence and courage. Peter’s eyes were locked on Jesus and for however long it lasted, Peter walked on water.
You might think that Peter should have enough evidence now that he has walked on water and gotten close enough to Jesus that He could reach out a helping hand that he could trust Jesus to sustain him, but he sank in fear.
No matter how far out on the water a person may be, how much they seem to have trusted Christ with their life, they are still liable to fear. They are strong wind and high seas away from sinking in doubt. The problem was Peter stopped looking at Jesus. The focus of his attention shifted from Jesus to the storm – he saw the wind the waves and panic and feelings of inadequacy took over. “He was terrified and began to sink” The takeaway is clear: look for Jesus and keep looking to Jesus.
Peter demonstrated how most Christians respond to fear and uncertainty. First, we are afraid. Then, we sense that God is in control and will take care of us and we are emboldened. We step out in faith. But then as trials and circumstances swirl around us, we begin to take our focus off the Lord and focus on the perils around us. As a result, we start to feel overwhelmed.
The Christian life is a step-by-step process that requires our focus to remain upon Christ. If we start looking around and becoming distracted by worldly things, we will fall. And often, it does not take very long, sometimes just a matter of seconds, to go from confident faith to overwhelming doubt. In the end, though, God is there for us.
- Can you imagine what it must have been like to walk on water?
- What can we do this week to better focus on Jesus?