How many of you have read, heard, watched, or participated in a skit of Jesus walking on the water? Probably all of you. How many of you remember the little bits and pieces of that verse? Give or take a few things. There’s Jesus, Simon Peter, the disciples, the boat, and a huge storm. That’s pretty much it, right?
Recently, I was able to look deeper (pun intended) into Jesus walking on the water in Matthew 14:22-33. It’s one of those verses everyone has heard before, and maybe even studied before. Even though I am one of those people, I chose to pay attention to the little details this time.
Before we get started, I’ll just write the story out for you guys:
“Jesus Walks on the Water
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” – Matthew 14:22-33.
Upon reading this story, we discussed it in family Bible study. When a few of us brought up the fact that Peter seeing the wind stuck out to us in the reading, we began to apply daily struggles to the verse. There were discussion/thinking questions my aunt had provided from the study lesson plans for us, so we all reflected on them further.
What are your wind and waves? This is one question in particular that was easy to answer, because we’re all so focused on our wind and waves, aren’t we? How often have I felt like I would never get to shore, “buffeted by the waves because the wind is against me?”
I pictured the wind being all the tasks life has thrown my way recently, pictured myself fighting in the waves of anxiety, fear, and doubt weighing me down, tossed furiously by these tasks.
Many of these blog posts involve me trying to control and fight and cast away my own struggles.
“But when [Peter] saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!'”
Remember at the beginning of the story, the disciples were all looking at Jesus on the water, and Peter had asked that He command him to come to him on the water. As soon as Peter looked away from Jesus and focused on the terrible storm surrounding him, he sank.
It is so easy to lose sight of the Lord and let yourself get up to your nose in things that need to get done, decisions that need to be made, relationships that need to be mended.
But doesn’t this story make it seem so easy to just keep looking at him? Peter, of all the disciples, would probably tell you that just looking at Jesus is not easy, especially when you know you’ve sinned or denied any relationship with him.
What Peter could tell you is that when you do look to Jesus, everything changes. Switch your attention to Luke 22:54-62:
“Peter Denies Jesus
54 Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. 55 And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them.
56 Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” 57 But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.”
58 And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.”
59 And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” 60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.
61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.”
62 And he went out and wept bitterly.” – Luke 22:54-62
Going through the Gospels, it seems that anytime Jesus is about to perform a miracle, the disciples have forgotten all the great things he’s already shown them. Here, Peter had denied knowing Jesus three times, and it was not until Jesus made direct eye contact with Peter that he remembered that Jesus knew this was going to happen.
It’s as if we have to be constantly reminded of His miracles and of His plan for us. And it’s always going to be that way. He doesn’t expect us to constantly remember, but He feels so much joy with us when we do.
A few months ago, I had no idea where I was going. I definitely could not see the shore. Now I sit here, and I feel as if I am in the right place. I can close my eyes and see myself holding that Master’s, ready to go work in a school and help students conquer their wind and waves. I also know that even though I feel that everything is figured out, there are some days where it will be hard for me to simply look up and remember.
So here’s your reminder today to look to Jesus, remember His miracles, His love for you, and walk on the water as he commands you. “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” The wind and waves won’t ever disappear, but He can calm them and hold out His hand to catch you. Because, truly, He is the Son of God.