This week’s blog is about Jesus walking on water.
The context of this story begins with an astounding miracle – Jesus feeding 5000 people with just five loaves and two fish.
The miracle made Jesus super popular, he was like a rock star, the crowd couldn’t get enough of him and his amazing feats. Jesus might have found this attention from the crowd rather overwhelming and wanted some quiet time alone with God. So He sent the crowd away, told his disciples to cross the lake in a boat and withdrew to a private place in the mountains where He could pray.
By the time Jesus had finished praying, the disciples in the boat were already far from the shore. The boat was being buffeted to-and-fro like a roller-coaster as the wind blew the waves against the vessel, smashing wave after wave of violent water against the vessel.
The disciples must have been pretty terrified already, scared that the boat was going to capsize and worried that they were in danger of drowning. Though their situation was frightening enough already, what happened next scared them even more.
The disciples saw a figure walking on the water towards the boat, a moon-lit silhouette sliding across the water.
“It’s a ghost!” they cried out in fear.
Then the ethereal figure spoke to them – “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
However, all they could see was a dim outline, with waves crashing against the ghostly figure. Was the figure really Jesus or could it be a trick – could the figure be a demonic apparition out to harm them?
It was then that Peter had an inspired thought. If the figure was really Jesus walking miraculously then surely the Lord could empower Peter to perform the same miracle? “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter said, “Tell me to come to you on the water.”
The ghostly figure simply said one word – “Come”.
Peter lifted his right foot and tentatively dipped it into the water. The foot didn’t sink but when it hit the water, the water was like firm concrete. So Peter took a deep breath and made that leap of faith, he lifted his left foot, getting out of the boat and plunged his left foot into the stormy water. Again – bang! – his foot didn’t sink but hit a wet but solid surface.
Peter started walking on water, but not without fear. He slowly put one foot in front of the other, expecting disaster to strike any moment. The sea was stormy, and wave after wave of water struck his body as he made his way towards Jesus.
Peter was only a few feet away from Jesus when what he feared the most happened. He started sinking, the surface of the water seemed to be getting less and less solid, the water’s firmness was turning soft. First the water came up to his ankles, then to his shins, then to his knees and as Peter approached Jesus, he was going further down and down into the sea.
Peter was sure that he was going to be swallowed up by the strong windy waves any moment and cried out to Jesus, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately, Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
Peter clung on to Jesus like his life depended on him and Jesus guided the terrified Peter back to the boat.
After Jesus climbed into the boat, the wind died down and the lake became as calm as a mirror, the water was as flat and shiny as a sheet of glass.
This account of Peter walking on water should inspire us to take risks.
Too often we are content to live a safe life, one that is less than perfect but which is secure. Our lives might be mediocre, we might be unhappy, but we’re too scared to change things because we’re afraid that change might make things worse.
Certainly the disciples might have felt that way. Sure, it would be totally awesome, utterly mind-blowing to be able to walk on water, but what was the point of that? They might have thought – “this walking on water thing sure looks impressive, but I’m not going to take a risk and copy Jesus by trying to walk on water too. What if I try to walk on water and fail? Then I would have drowned trying to do something that wasn’t even very useful or beneficial but that just looked spectacular.”
But Peter was different from the other disciples. He didn’t want just a normal, ordinary, routine life that was mired in mediocrity. He wanted a life that was extraordinary, amazing, jaw-dropping, one that made your spirit soar like the eagle. He wanted to live a life full of miracles. He wanted to walk on water when his fellow disciples were all perfectly content to sit safely in the boat.
Peter’s example teaches us about our need to take risks so we can live a life that’s extraordinary. God wants us to give us a life that’s more than what we can even ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20) but in order for that to happen, God’s miraculous path for us often demands that we leave safety behind and take risks.
You won’t ever experience walking on water if you never get out of your boat. Answering the voice of Christ to join him in the stormy waters means you have to be courageous. You need to have a faith that is brave enough to put your life in Christ’s hands. You need the faith to believe that Christ wants you to live a miraculous, astounding life. Often, to answer the call to live a life that is miraculous involves taking a path where you have to leave security behind. For me, it’s the path of being a writer, a path which is financially unstable and could well lead to chronic poverty, but since God has blessed me with the gift of writing, I continue to pursue His calling to be a writer and trust that He will provide for my material needs. For others, walking on water might involve taking on a job which is less lucrative but more fulfilling or leaving a long-term relationship which is not working out. In order to walk on water, we need that brave faith. The faith that involves our venturing out, doing things we had never dreamed of, trusting that God will take care of us.