24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves.
25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water.
26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.
30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”
I guess the whole “Jesus would want you to go to bed early” thing won’t work on my son. Jesus was a bit of a night owl. On the other hand, he had just recently found out that John the Baptist, someone who he thought pretty highly of, had just been beheaded and his head given away on a plate. So it’s pretty understandable that it might have been hard to fall asleep that night.
One would think that after hanging out with Jesus for a while, you’d start to get the idea that this guy is a little bit different. He doesn’t fall into the category of a good Jewish man. He’s breaking the rules (without sinning), and literally writing a whole new book on what it means to have a relationship with God. So, when they see someone that looks like Jesus walking across the water, why would they automatically assume that it must be a ghost? I mean, how many ghosts had these guys seen in their lives and how many times had they seen Jesus do miraculous works. I’m guessing the scale would tilt more towards Jesus than ghost.
But Peter, being a little bit stupid, and quite a bit brave asks Jesus to prove that it’s him. I tried to put myself in that boat. I’m not sure I would have reacted the same way. I do, however, have the benefit of hindsight so I can’t really say what I would have done, but I like to think that I just would have laughed and said something like, “That Jesus! What a trip.” Not that I use the word “trip” very often, but I think it would have been appropriate for the situation. Could you imagine if they had Facebook and Instagram back then? Maybe that’s why he made sure to wait until night time to do the walk on water thing. He had to have thought about it prior to that and said to himself, “No, Jesus, save it for the perfect moment.” But that thought was probably immediately followed by, “Oh wait, I’m Jesus. Whatever moment I chose to walk on water is the perfect moment.” That Jesus, what a trip!
There Peter is, standing at the edge of the boat. Jesus had just called his bluff and told him, “Yes, come” and now he had a choice. Does he say, “Just kidding, I know it’s you” or does he step over the side of the boat and take a chance? He takes a chance. He puts aside his fear, for a second, and takes a big chance. He puts his trust in Jesus and he goes for it. What happens next? That’s right, he walks on water. Let me say that again. Peter walked on freakin’ water!!! That’s not physically possible. No one will accidently figure out how to do that. Water is not made to hold up the weight of a person. You can make giant floaty shoes, but then you are just standing in two little boats, and you aren’t doing anything remotely similar to walking. You are floating, and then mostly likely falling. Let’s get back on point. Like the tides in the ocean, Peter’s faith wanes. He is standing on the water, looking at Jesus, and fear still finds him. And because he believes the fear, he falls.
How many times has this happened to us? How many times has this happened to me? I hear a message, or read something in the Bible, or experience something truly amazing and I get fired up for God. Fear falls away like the booster rockets on the space shuttle and I take off into space. I know God is holding my hand. I know he is right there. I can feel his presence and hear his voice. Yet, at the same time, fear is creeping back in. The enemy is already whispering in my ear, reminding me of all the times I have failed. Visions of my past mistakes fill my head like a bad action movie. I start to think nothing can truly change in my life and that eventually I will always let the enemy in. I will always give into my flesh. I will always stay where life is comfortably-miserable. I am me, and me won’t change. And then I begin to sink. In my weaker moments I flat out fall, and in my best moments I recognize I am sinking, like Peter, and call out to God for help, “Save me.” And he faithfully reaches out his hand and grabs me.
Why do we doubt God? Why do we have so little faith? Why, when Jesus asks these questions, does no one ever answer him?
Can we ever have enough faith? If a mustard seed is enough, then what more do we need?
I’m not even going to try to answer these questions. They are just things to think about. I know I fall short. I know we all fall short. So I think the best thing we can do is to recognize that we are all sinking and not just call out to God for ourselves, but keep calling out to God for each other too. So, I pray that God will reach out and grab you. I pray he will pull you out of that situation that brings you so much fear. I pray that he will always show you that he loves you and that as long as we are calling out to him, we never have to answer the question of why we have so little faith.