We find Peter some two years into Jesus’ ministry, rowing through that windy night on the Sea of Galilee. It is true; we cannot know for certain what memories were going through his mind on that night. Peter had experienced so much over the past two years. Jesus had healed the mother-in-law of Peter. He had sat through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Repeatedly, Peter saw that Jesus was truly the long-awaited Messiah. As each month passed, Peter’s imperfections, such as his impulsive behavior, as well as his fear and doubt, certainly gave way to faith and trust to a degree. Peter was even privileged to be one of the chosen twelve apostles! Still, Peter had not yet conquered his fear and doubt, as he would soon learn.
Matthew 14:25-28 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 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. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter Attempts to Walk on Water
28 And Peter answered him and said, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
This was definitely an impulsive courageous move on the part of Peter. He was full of excitement as he saw this unique miracle. Peter was now looking to have his faith in Jesus confirmed. He wanted to be part of the action. Warmly, Jesus summoned him. Peter scrambled over the side of the boat and down onto the surging surface of the Galilean Sea. Can we feel what Peter must have felt when he put his foot down into the sea and found solid footing beneath his feet, as he too was now standing on the water? His heart and mind must have been racing as he walked toward Jesus. However, it was short-lived as another emotion overcome him.
Matthew 14:30-31 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Peter needed to keep his mind on Jesus. It was Jesus, who had the power to keep Peter from sinking into the sea. The steps that Peter had taken thus far was not of his own doing. However, Peter took his mind off the source of his power, as we read, “he saw the wind, he was afraid.” It took but a moment as Peter looked into the windstorm and saw those waves that had been crashing into the fishing boat, and he panicked as he became frightened, as his faith plummeted, and his fear rose, he sank. He probably replaced Jesus whom he had been looking at with a vision of himself drowning in the lake. This chosen apostle whom Jesus Christ personally named “rock” because of his having the capacity within himself to develop the quality of steadiness began to sink like a rock because of his faith had wavered. Peter’s years as a fisherman meant that he was certainly a capable simmer, but he did not even rely on that ability at this moment. Rather, “he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” Then, at once, “Jesus stretched out his hand and took hold of him,” taking this opportunity to teacher Peter an important lesson that sadly would need to be repeated again in the future, Jesus said, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Why did Peter let doubt creep into his heart and mind? Doubt is a dominant, destructive force. If we succumb to it, it can infect our faith like a disease and cause us to sink spiritually. We need to fight back quickly, boldly and forcefully! How can we do so amidst such a wicked, violent, depraved world? We do so by keeping our mind and heart focused on the source of our strength. If we dwell on whatever it is that can generate fear and doubt in us; it will discourage us, it will distract us from the Father and his Son. The moment that we remove our heart from the Father and the Son, we will find doubts begin to creep into our mind, growing. Instead, we need to always, continuously have our mind and heart focused what the Father and the Son have done for us, what they are currently doing, and will do in the future; we will endure, persist, and remain steadfast, as we keep destructive doubts at bay.
As Jesus lead the way back to the boat, Peter saw the storm die down. It was now peaceful and quiet on the Sea of Galilee. Peter and “those in the boat bowed down before him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God!’” (Matthew 14:33) As sunrise burst over the lake, Peter’s heart undoubtedly soared. He discarded any doubt and fear that he had at that moment. Granted, he had a few more windstorms figuratively speaking to face before he would become the rocklike Christian that Jesus knew was beneath the surface. But he was resolved to keep trying, to keep growing. Are we willing to keep trying, to continue growing in our faith? Indeed, Peter’s faith is worth imitating. If a hand-selected apostle whom Jesus personally named “rock,” can find himself fearful and doubting on several occasions after two-three years with Jesus, we should not abandon the ship if we see doubt creeping into our hearts as well.
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