Whenever you read the Bible, I’m betting there are people in it you recognize. Not because they’re people you’ve read about before or heard talked about before. But because they behave the same way you do.
If you ask the average dedicated Christ-follower on the street which Bible personality most reflects their own, I’m betting most people would say Peter.
Ah, Peter. The rough-and-tumble, brash, impulsive fisherman. I swear his foot spent more time in his mouth than it did in his sandals. He’s easy to identify with because he just shoots his mouth off all the time. And that’s reassuring, because if Jesus could use someone like Peter, surely he could use anyone, right?
But I really don’t think we give Peter enough credit. Yes, he was loud and rash and reckless. He didn’t always think about what he said before he said it. But he got to do things nobody else got to do, and he got to do them because he was willing to jump when Jesus called.
After all, when was the last time you walked on water?
Today’s verses are Matthew 14:22-31.
Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.
Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
“Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”
Peter and his adventure walking on water has been heavy on my mind in recent months. Imagine. Walking on water. And not calm water–stormy water. There was a heck of a storm blowing all around him when Peter climbed out of that boat and went to meet Jesus on the waves.
But Jesus called him out. So he went. He might not have made it very far, but how many of us can say that we’ve done that? How many of us can even say we’ve tried?
As 21st Century Americans we are wired to expect life to be a certain way. If your family is godly, it’s usually safe to assume you’ll have some sort of Christ-like influence in your childhood. We expect to go to school and then on to college and to graduate with a degree that we may or may not ever use. We expect to get a job working from 9 to 5. Somewhere in there, some of us may get married, may have children, and some may find success–at least what we have always been told is success.
We expect all these things just as we expect that water will never be solid enough to walk on.
But what makes us think that a life following Christ is supposed to be what we expect? Isn’t it supposed to be more?
That’s why I love Peter. Not because I see myself in his faults but because I want to be the person with enough courage to get out of the boat.
You shouldn’t be able to walk on water, but if you’re following Jesus, you can. You shouldn’t be able to achieve impossible things in your life and your career when you don’t follow the crowd, but if you’re following Jesus, you can.
What is God calling you to do today? He’s calling me to do something crazy. Or at least, it’s something a lot of people will think is crazy. But I’m sure the rest of the Disciples thought Peter had lost his marbles when he jumped out of that boat. I can’t help but wonder what they must have thought when he didn’t sink.
What we all have to remember is that it’s not your will that keeps you walking where you shouldn’t be able to walk. It’s your faith. How much do you trust Jesus?
If you get out of the boat in a storm, you’re going to get wet. You’re going to be thrown around. You’re going to be uncomfortable, and you might even get a little scared. But you can be uncomfortable and scared and keep trusting Jesus.