Faith that Walked on Water: Peter's Faith in Jesus
Faith Brings Action
What are you putting your faith in today as you live your life? And, more importantly, are you living consistently by that faith?
Famed missionary to China, Hudson Taylor, was sailing to that great nation when, as he and the ship's crew neared the channel between the Southern Malay Peninsula and the Island of Sumatra, Taylor heard an urgent knock on his stateroom door. When he opened his door, there stood the captain of the ship, looking extremely concerned.
"Mr. Taylor!", the captain said. "We have no wind and we are drifting toward an Island where the people are heathen. And I fear that they are cannibals!"
"What can I do?" Taylor replied. Then the captain said: "I understand that you are a Christian. I want you to pray for wind."
"All right" Mr. Taylor replied. "But you have to do something too! You must set the sail."
"That's ridiculous!: responded the captain. "There's not even the slightest breeze. And besides all that, the sailors will think that I'm crazy!"
But Taylor was insistent and so the captain did as he had been asked and set the sails. Forty-five minutes later, the captain returned to find the missionary still on his knees in fervent prayer.
"You can stop praying now Mr. Taylor," he said. "We now have more wind than we know what to do with!"
Hudson Taylor was indeed a great man of faith. This is just one illustration of that fact. And his faith is a good demonstration of what we all should be striving for in our lives. Faith, not in ourselves or our works for salvation or any other part of our lives. But faith in the God who is in control of this universe and our very destinies.
In reading the New Testament, an incident where a man demonstrated faith in Jesus Christ can be seen in one of our Lord's most celebrated miracles. It happened when Jesus walked on the water. The Apostle Peter, because he trusted the Savior, was able, for a short time, to walk on water as well. Though his faith wavered, he a least had the trust to get out of the boat and move toward the Lord. This is faith the rest of the Apostles at the time were unwilling to show.
I. The Account of Jesus and Peter on the Water
The miracle of Jesus walking on water is found in 3 of the 4 Gospels. Matthew 14:22-36; Mark 6:45-56 and John 6:16-24 all record this great event. However, only Matthew records the faith of Peter and the fact that he asked the Lord if he could come out to him on the waves.
This miracle occurs shortly after another major miracle of our Savior, the feeding of the 5000. Interestingly, the disciples don't seem to have realized the significance of the feeding of this many people. They should have understood the special nature of the Lord and who He was from that demonstration of His power. However, this later water-filled event was actually what it took to finally convince the 12 disciples that Jesus was indeed the Son of God.
After, the feeding incident, Jesus sent his Apostles on ahead of Him while he went alone to the mountainside to pray. His men left in a boat and they were crossing the Sea of Galilee.
A few hours later, the 12 were in the middle of a terrible storm on the Sea that frightened them. It was then that Jesus came walking toward them on the water, and their fear immediately turned to terror since they thought that they were seeing a ghost. However, Jesus calmed their fears by speaking and telling them:
"Take courage, it is I. Don't be afraid!" (Matthew 14:27).
This encouraged Peter to ask the question:
"Lord, if it's you, tell me to come to you on the water." (28).
Peter immediately got out of the boat and started walking toward the Savior. However, the minute he took his eyes off of Christ, Peter became afraid because he got his attention on the wind instead. It was then that he began to sink.
However, Peter knew who to call on when in trouble. He cried out to Jesus, saying:
"Lord, save me!" (30).
Jesus immediately reached out His hand and pulled Peter up saying:
"Oh, you of little faith! Why did you doubt!" (31).
As soon as they got into the boat, the wind ceased (32).
The account ends with the faith of those in the boat being strengthened. They worshiped Jesus and said:
"Truly you are the Son of God!" (33).
II. Lessons to Strengthen Our Faith
This account of Jesus and His disciples has many applications for us today. The first being that even though we may not recognize the Savior in our midst like the 12 didn't recognize the Lord, He is always near. Our Redeemer will be with us in the midst of our own storms in life. We should not, under any circumstances, doubt that He will never leave nor forsake us.
And just as Peter did at first, we need to keep our eyes off of the problems and storms of life and keep them fixed firmly on our Savior who has it all under His control. Life is overwhelming at times and we can feel like we are sinking and drowning in a sea of problems. But as I once heard someone say: "Throughout the storms of life, it is good to know that my lifeguard walks on water."
It was Chuck Swindoll who said:
"Every problem is an opportunity to prove God's power. Every day we encounter countless golden opportunities, brilliantly disguised as insurmountable problems."
There is no storm that our Lord cannot calm. There is no problem that Jesus cannot help us overcome. All we have to do is ask.
Of course, none of is perfect. We are all prone to doubts and fears. We may one day fail and start to sink in the sea of troubles and sins that are always there to overwhelm us if we aren't prepared. It's wonderful to realize that, even if we doubt and fear, Jesus is waiting for us to cry as Peter did: "Lord, save me!" He will respond by reaching down His hand to us and pull us out of the sea and take us safely to shore.
Eventually, the storm will end. Sometimes He lets us go through it completely. At other times, we call upon Him and He brings it to an immediate halt. No matter what, He will get in the boat with us to help us weather the storm. Life is truly better with Jesus there beside us.
III. Be Careful Where You Place Faith
Sadly, we are tempted to trust in other things and people rather than the One person who can truly help us in the great sea of trouble that is life. We have to be careful where we place our faith. Not all faith is good.
This reminds me of a sad but true story that happened in 1988. One night the evening news reported on a photographer who was a skydiver. He had jumped, along with a whole lot of other skydivers and was filming them as they fell through the air and as they opened their parachutes.
On the film that was shown on the telecast, after the last person had opened his parachute, the picture suddenly went berserk. The announcer reported that the cameraman had fallen to his death, having jumped from the plane without his parachute. He had forgotten to put it on. And it wasn't until he reached for his absent ripcord that he suddenly realized that he was free falling without a parachute.
At first, what he was doing probably seemed fun and exciting. However, when it was too late, he suddenly realized that he'd acted with thoughtless haste and foolishness. Nothing could save him at this point. His faith was in a parachute that he'd forgotten to put on.
In the same way, putting our faith in anything other than God the Father, through our Lord Jesus Christ will never end well. It will ultimately bring us to a tragedy that no one except the Lord can ever remedy.
Song: 'Til the Storm Passes By'
C.S. Lewis, in his book A Grief, Observed wrote this:
"You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death. It is easy to say you believe a rope to be strong as long as you are merely using it to cord a box. But suppose you had to hang by that rope over a precipice. Wouldn't you then first discover how much you really trusted it?"
The storms of life don't have to destroy us if we put our trust totally in our Lord Jesus Christ. They can rather serve as ways to prove and strengthen our trust in the one who has the rope tightly tied around us.
I heard a song by the Gaither Vocal Band and written by Mosie Lister, that sums up this sentiment. It is a melody of faith and petition to the Lord called 'Til the Storm Passes By.' It goes like this:
In the dark of the midnight have I oft hid my face While the storm howls above me, and there's no hiding place 'Mid the crash of the thunder, Precious Lord, hear my cry Keep me safe till the storm passes by Till the storm passes over, till the thunder sounds no more Till the clouds roll forever from the sky Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of Thy hand Keep me safe till the storm passes by Many times Satan whispered, "There is no need to try For there's no end of sorrow, there's no hope by and by" But I know Thou art with me, and tomorrow I'll rise Where the storms never darken the skies Till the storm passes over, till the thunder sounds no more Till the clouds roll forever from the sky Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of Thy hand Keep me safe till the storm passes by When the long night has ended and the storms come no more Let me stand in Thy presence on the bright peaceful shore In that land where the tempest, never comes, Lord, may I Dwell with Thee when the storm passes by Till the storm passes over, till the thunder sounds no more Till the clouds roll forever from the sky Hold me fast, let me stand in the hollow of Thy hand Keep me safe till the storm passes by
As God's people, let us pray, not for fewer storms, but for the faith that looks only to Jesus Christ to get us safely through all of them. For it is that faith which will ultimately keep us safe until the storm passes by.
© 2019 Jeff Shirley