The storm-stuck disciples exemplify our lives when we are helpless in our circumstance. Times come when you have no solution to the impending crisis. Even though the boat was in danger of flipping over, it was still the last hope of survival.
It is basic boatmanship to stay with the craft if it capsizes. Wisdom dictates that you need to hang onto something that will float.
Peter suddenly realizes that Jesus may really be with them and is walking on the water. It is not a reasonable time when options may be considered, but an emergency with little hope for survival. It is in this desperate place that people like Peter pray unusual prayers.
‘Lord, if it’s you tell me to come to you on the water.’
The initial fear was that the figure on the waves was a ghost. But then, the ghost identifies itself as Jesus and tells them not to fear. How could they know what was real in this instance?
Peter takes great courage in the midst of fear. ‘Lord, if it’s you tell me to come to you on the water.’
Matthew Henry states,
It is an instance of Peter’s faith and resolution that he ventured upon the water when Christ bid him. To quit the safety of the ship, and throw himself into the jaws of death, to despise the threatening waves he so lately dreaded, argued a very strong dependence upon the power and word of Christ. What difficulty or danger could stand before such a faith and such zeal?[i]
The most obvious lesson follows when Peter steps out of the boat and for a brief time walks on the water toward Jesus. There is a time when God responds to our faith and empowers supernatural ability.
But that kind of faith is short-lived as Peter quickly proves. The momentary faith is distracted by the demanding wind and waves. Somehow Peter walks, but the cold wind and waves are still with him. As his attention shifts off Jesus, the sinking begins.
Peter was not presumptuous and demanding that Jesus sustain him on the waves. He put his trust in Jesus and needed Jesus to beckon him out of the boat. He did not come up with the idea independently, but saw it firsthand in his Lord. If Jesus had power to do it, surely he had power to enable Peter.
In the midst of crisis, Peter turns his attention to Jesus as the hope of salvation. He was wise to cling to the only One who was floating apart from a boat.
What is a boat? It is a human invention designed to overcome the barrier of the sea. But all human inventions have flaws and can be overtaken by the forces of Creation.
There is a lesson for us in this story about dependency. In the Old Testament times, some trusted in horse, chariot, sword and spear to maintain their security. In modern times, some trust in jobs and handguns to feel safe. The cry of the Chosen Ones—we will remember the name of the Lord our God.
As Peter left the boat and trusted God, he overcame. As he became distracted and lost faith he immediately began to sink. So what does he do? Does Peter take his last breath and sink to the bottom? Peter cries out to Jesus, ‘Lord, save me!’
Jesus takes him in his re-awakened fear and lifts him up. He brings him into the boat and stops the storm.
Jesus may at times call you to a supernatural action, but the power remains in His grasp and not yours. He does not see the need to sink boats and have all the disciples walk on waves back to shore.
But He does come to our boat and stops storms. When Jesus comes into our soul, he causes storms to stop and commands that peace rule. It is in these moments of divine salvation that we most realize that Jesus is the Son of God. He truly is Emmanuel – God with us in every circumstance.
In your walk of faith have you taken your eyes off Jesus and found that you are sinking? Call out to Him. He is close at hand and ready to lift you up.