Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”
And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
I’ve always enjoyed the story of Jesus appearing to the disciples in the middle of the lake during a storm. How cool it would be to walk on water! Peter had a chance, brief as it was, to take a few steps before he was overcome with fear.
Beyond recording a miraculous event that served to testify to Jesus’ command and authority over nature, this story also tells us something about who Jesus is and what He wants to do in our lives today.
Jesus is with us in all circumstances of our lives.
Jesus walked toward the boat in the midst of the storm. The disciples didn’t have to make it to shore, hold out until the winds calmed or keep bailing the little boat until the waves stopped crashing over the deck. Jesus knew their circumstances and came to them. We can have the same expectation. Whether we know it or not, whether we sense Jesus’ presence with us or not, He is with us. Deut. 31.8: And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”
Jesus will calm our fears.
There was no reason the disciples would have expected to see anyone walking in the middle of the lake. They were afraid when they saw the unexpected and unknown. Jesus immediately recognized their fear, identified Himself and encouraged them not to be afraid. The unexpected and unknown are only so to us. Standing outside of time, Jesus knows the future and nothing surprises Him. When we are faced with the unexpected and unknown, Jesus stands nearby to offer us the same comfort. Psa. 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?
Jesus wants us to come to Him.
When Peter asked, Jesus right away told him to come. Jesus didn’t ask Peter to jump through hoops, prove his love or anything else. Jesus always wants us to come to Him. We don’t have to worry that our concerns are too small, unimportant or not worth Jesus’s time. Jesus said as much in an earlier discourse Matt. 11:28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Jesus sustains us when we keep our eyes on Him.
Peter did what no one else has done. When Jesus told him to come, Peter walked on water. Peter was able to walk on water until he was distracted by what was going on around him. Peter turned his attention from Jesus to the winds. When he realized how powerful the winds could be and forgot that Jesus was even more powerful, Peter began to sink. Today, we know what Peter did not know when this incident occurred. Jesus, God of the universe, has defeated every power that could or would come against Him. We can have complete faith and confidence in Jesus. Whatever we face, whatever trials we encounter, whatever suffering we experience, Jesus is greater. Psa. 121:7 The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.
Jesus stands ready to help us when we stumble.
When Peter’s distraction caused him to start sinking, he called out to Jesus, who immediately stretched out his hand and caught Peter. Jesus knew Peter’s doubt, but didn’t demand he have full confidence before pulling him to safety. In our own moments of doubt, we can be encouraged. Jesus knows our doubts already. He doesn’t demand perfect faith or full confidence before offering His hand to catch us. Psa. 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Jesus will bring peace to our storms.
Jesus, with Peter, got into the boat and the winds ceased. Rough waters and high winds on the Sea of Galilee are common. The sequence of events allowed the disciples to know they could trust Jesus in difficult circumstances and served to give them a more complete glimpse of the power and authority Jesus has over all the earth. Today, we can trust Jesus in the midst of our own storms. We can live in full confidence that our storms will not last forever. We can live in the hope that in difficult circumstances, suffering and hardship, Jesus will bring peace and calm. Sometimes Jesus does this pretty quickly. Others times, for reasons we may not understand, peace and calm are delayed. Yet they will come. Psa. 29:11 The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace.
Suffering, hardships, and trials are a part of life. We can try to deal with them in our own strength and ability. Far better, however, is to call upon the One who stands ready to help us through.