Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Walking on Water

"During the fourth watch of the night 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?'” 

Matthew 14:25-31

The disciples, sitting in a boat, seeing someone coming towards them cried out in fear thinking it might be a ghost. They failed to recognize it was Jesus until He spoke to them. He quickly quieted their fears and told them to take courage saying, "It is I." He didn't have to say His name because they knew His voice. Matthew Henry's Commentary on Matthew 14 expands on this point saying that our perplexing and disquieting fears come from our mistakes and misapprehensions concerning Christ. The more clearly and fully we know Him, (know His character), the more assurance we will have in trusting Him.

Being a man of courage, and trusting in the Lord, Peter called out to Jesus asking Him to call him out onto the water. He asked and then waited for God to clearly call him. He did not make any presumptions. He did not run ahead. He waited to be called. Jesus did not see his request to walk out on the water to Him as foolish, but saw his sincere faith and trust in Him to make the impossible possible and invited him. Once he was bid to "Come," Peter responded immediately in faith.

So, Peter began to walk on that water in faith, but when he noticed the wind begin to pick up, he doubted and began to sink. In walking on the water he knew Christ's power, and in his sinking he knew his own weakness. Matthew Henry says, "The strongest faith and greatest courage have a mixture of fear. Those that can say, 'Lord, I believe,' must say, 'Lord, help my unbelief.'" Only God's perfect love can cast out our fears. He goes on to say, "The lengthening out of a trial discovers the weakness of faith."

When we experience fear, even if only for a moment, we have forgotten who our God is. Sometimes the Lord may let us sink a bit to remind us that what we are doing for Him is done in His power and not our own. He may even let us sink to the point of crying out for His help before saving us. This makes me think of how we love a good suspense movie. The scenes can get intense as we wait for the rescue, but oh how good it is when the rescue comes! The Bible is full of such stories, so why would we think our lives any different? This is often how God works. When our faith is at its weakest, and our needs are at their greatest, our prayers should be their strongest. In fact we are encouraged in Hebrews 5:7 with Jesus' example to offer up prayers with loud cries and tears in our desperation. "During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission."

God often chooses to save us when we begin to sink. No matter how rough the storm however, there is no danger in going under if we are trusting in Jesus' everlasting arms to hold us up. We only need faith as small as a mustard seed to take the first step in trusting Jesus, but great faith or ever increasing faith to sustain us for the long haul. Faith that comes from seeing God move and work in our lives with great faithfulness, never letting us down, and remembering what He's already done for us when the next storm comes.

Father, Savior, Rescuer, Friend... I love You more than life itself. You have been so faithful to me. Give me courage to do great things for You and great faith to sustain me. Make the impossible, possible. Make Your way clear. Help me Father never to run ahead or make assumptions, but to keep in step and walk with You. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.


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