“But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink…” (Mt. 14:30)
I love this story.
I hate how it is told and preached from time to time, but I love the story. I’ve heard sermons about maintaining faith when the trials of life get overwhelming. I’ve heard sermons about keeping your eyes fixed upon Jesus. I’ve heard sermons about “daring” to step out of the boat. People look at it from Peter’s perspective, or the disciples’ perspective.
You know what I’ve never heard a sermon about though?
This story from Jesus’ point of view.
“And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, ‘It is a ghost!’ and they cried out in fear. But immediately, Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.’
And Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.'”
Jesus sends his disciples out in a boat, spends some time with God in prayer, then decides that he should go and catch up with the disciples. He takes off across the water.
First of all, Jesus, Son of God, knew how his disciples would react to seeing him. The very individuals who just watched him turn five loaves and two fish into something on par with a Southern Baptist carry-in dinner where there’s leftovers for days quaked in their boots. In the boat, they totally lost their minds.
Jesus announces himself and Peter takes up a common “doubter-of-miracle” mindset. And Peter (always Peter) tempestuously doesn’t ask Jesus; he straight up tells Jesus to invite him out of the boat. Jesus calls him out of the boat and onto the water and Peter walks on the water until he is overwhelmed by the circumstances and begins to sink
Why do we always look at the disciples here?
Consider this: Everything that happens in the story is done so that Jesus can be the rescuer.
Who sends the disciples out in a boat by themselves? Jesus.
Who walks out on the water first? Jesus.
Who calls Peter out of the boat? Jesus.
Who grabs Peter by the hand when he is beginning to sink to the bottom? Jesus.
God, in His infinite wisdom, created everything and then gave man the ability to choose whether or not to serve Him. God, in His infinite love, did not force man to choose Him, but allowed man to fall away. God, in His infinite grace, sent the Son to be our rescuer. God, in His infinite mercy, poured out His wrath upon the Son instead of us.
Jesus initiated the moment by sending the disciples ahead of himself. Jesus allowed Peter to step out of the boat. Jesus came to rescue the disciples from fear. Jesus saved Peter from his choice to doubt and the distraction of his surroundings.
Jesus came to seek and save the lost.
We’re all lost. We all need saving; from our sins, from our doubts, from our faithlessness, from our distractions, from ourselves.
“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of in…If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin…” (Jn. 15:22&24)
Recognize that God is writing your story, even now. He is the one initiating events in your life, good and bad, so that Jesus can be your rescuer in times of your greatest need.