Jesus Walks on Water
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret. And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.
I once listened to a man as he expanded on this scripture. Surely it is a well-known story, but when you really sit down and analyze you will find it is not just fascinating it’s wild. Now, before I go on some things must be established.
One. God knows everything (Psalm 147:5, 1 John 3:19-20, Job 28:24). Two. Since Jesus is the son of God he too knows everything because he knows his Father (Matthew 11:27, Luke 10:22). Three. Jesus has all wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:2-3). Four. Jesus has all authority on earth (Ephesians 1:19-21).
With all of these things in mind I hope by now you are beginning to frown at the story of Jesus walking on the water. Why? Well, here’s why: Jesus knew there was a storm coming and he still sent the disciples out on the lake. Think about that for a second. Jesus sent his friends into the storm even though he knew it would terrify them and threaten their lives.
This appears maniacal, but Jesus knew about the storm the entire time. He planned for it. Look! Jesus appeared to the disciples right when things were looking quite grim. He showed up and told the men not to be afraid. He told them who he was and then he called Peter out. Peter walked on water too. Ah! What an amazing thing to try and imagine. Walking on water. Oh, that’s incredible.
Jesus knew that Peter would doubt, but he still called Peter out to walk on the lake. Peter became afraid and he panicked and low he began to sink. He cried out to Jesus who reached out his hand and caught him. Jesus asked Peter why he doubted. Then they returned to the ship and Jesus calmed the storm.
It is very important to see how this story applies to your life and the major crises you face.
Jesus created the storm and put the disciples in a dangerous situation so they would rely on Jesus and not themselves. Jesus saved them. The disciples really believed at this moment that Jesus was the son of God, but this wouldn’t have happened without the pre-determined storm.
Jesus knew about the storm and he led the disciples into it on purpose. The disciples were never unsafe because Jesus was with them. He quieted the storm and brought peace to the elements. This means that Jesus brings us into crises in our lives, but he’s with us. He protects us and he cares for us. He does not leave us. He has authority and power over our greatest, most intimidating fears. No problem will ever be big enough. No sin or regret or shame or burden or loss or anything real or imagined could possibly surmount God. Our God is ruthless against darkness and so is his son.
Please also pay attention to our dear brother Peter. Peter walked onto the water, he doubted and he began to sink. That is very critical because it happens to us as well. When we doubt God we begin to fall away. God knows this already! He never leaves us even when we step out. When we lose faith or when we wander God remains the same.
“…if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
The interesting thing is this: Jesus knew Peter would doubt and sink under the waves yet after this happens Jesus asks Peter why he doubted. Why would Jesus ask Peter this question? The thing about God is that he asks people questions not because he needs to know something, but for our own understanding. Jesus knows why Peter doubted. He asks Peter this question so that Peter can wonder about his lack of faith. Now Peter can think about what happened. Of course, being a sinner like the rest of us, Peter could never be strong enough to avoid doubt altogether.
Peter knew that he was weak. He got to see Jesus in his strength and in his majesty. Peter knew what fear tasted like and he knew the sting of doubt. It makes Jesus all the more remarkable because in Christ there is no fear because love drives out fear (1 John 4:18). Jesus never doubts because doubt deals with weakness and sin.
Another thing to think about is that Jesus said not to be afraid. The disciples thought he was a ghost and he calmed them. This resounds in me because this statement does not just mean one thing.
“One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard…” Psalm 62:11
Jesus told the disciples not to be afraid. Jesus likely didn’t want the disciples to fear Jesus because they thought he was a ghost. That’s the obvious rationale, but it seems to me that Jesus was also saying not to be afraid in general. Don’t fear the storm. Don’t fear for your lives. Don’t fear the treachery. Don’t fear that Jesus cannot help you. Don’t fear that your problems are bigger than Jesus. All of those thoughts are communicated through Jesus’s short dialogue, “Don’t be afraid.”
What do humans do when they are afraid? They panic like Peter and they begin to slip down into the crashing waves. Imagine if you didn’t have Christ…you’re actually drowning, but the sick thing is that you’re still breathing. I think that people know their lives spiral out of control. I believe that people carry the weight of death in their bodies all day long. I know that people sense dread in themselves and in the world because nothing is right. Nothing goes as it should. Everything they touch turns to ash.
If you can imagine your entire lifetime in your head right to the moment of death and then you just blink and you don’t really feel anything and you realize your life is not impressive and you think about how pointless it is and you ask yourself why it doesn’t seem good enough and then you compare yourself to other people and it never adds up in your favor and then you try to comprehend what the fuck is the meaning of anything.
Life is not satisfying and neither is sin. Religion is not satisfying. Jesus is our source of contentment. If you ever doubt then I promise if you just take a few days out in the world without praying, meditating on God and his Word or reading your Bible you’ll begin to feel the way you did before you became a believer. You’ll feel depressed and worried and directionless. Likely, you’ll feel very angry too because nothing appeases you. After you’ve experienced Christ everything else loses its value (Philippians 3:8).
Another thing to note is that Jesus makes his identity known to the disciples. He says who he is. This is powerful and I’ll tell you why. Have you ever listened to the lies that Satan puts in your head? Lies about your health or your future or your wellbeing or your ability or your failures or anything. These lies…guess what? They are completely against Jesus, against God, against the Bible. When the Holy Spirit tells you something then you will know it is from God because God makes his identity known. Satan is the King of Lies and he wants to keep his identity below your radar. You think these lies aren’t a big deal. In fact, you might casually wonder why you’re thinking about such things. You assume these thoughts are from you.
They’re not from you they’re from Satan and you can tell because dark thoughts, lies, always destroy. They never build up you or anyone else. They cripple. They break.
God and his son tell the truth always. Even when the truth of our sin is hard to face…you have Jesus’s forgiveness anyway so you don’t have to downplay your failures. Tell Jesus everything. Be humbled. You know you’re a mess. You know you consistently do stupid things and you know that you’ll do stupid things again tomorrow. Jesus knows all of your sin anyway so you should just come clean so that you can be made clean.
Oh, great, that cheesy line is something I’d expect from a pastor. Forgive me. I’m no pastor.
“He (Satan) was a murderer from the beginning, and stayed not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” John 8:44
The storm that you face may seem impossible or pointless or daunting, but God determined it. He will teach you and make you like his son. He will refine you and build you up. He is adjusting your character so that you can be a better person. A better servant.
Please remember that when you have a storm in your life you must rely on Jesus. If you don’t then that storm will continue to rage and you will not see the end of it. Even if the storm ends externally you can still nurture the pain internally. Let Jesus guide you through the storm. Ultimately he controls it and ultimately he can calm the wind, rain, waves, lightning and anything else that is disturbed.
When the pain is getting to be unbearable look out. Look out into the dark world and you will see him walking on the water. Not a droplet of fear is in him because he is the victory.
Perfect love drives out fear and God is love (1 John 4:16).