COME, BELOVED, LET’S WALK ON WATER!
Strange as that call may sound, it was the call of the Lord Jesus to His beloved Peter in Matt.14:29; and it was on top of a stormy sea to boot! Let’s back-up and read the whole story again –
‘’ …21 And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children. 22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. 23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. 24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. 27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. 28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. 31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? 32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.’’
Let us study the story step by step and note that every step the Lord took was deliberate even though it got His disciples into seemingly serious trouble every time! That is not like our loving, thoughtful, considerate Lord at all! Why then did He do it? It is important for us to study this now because the Lord still uses that same terrifying method of asking us to walk on water to achieve some goals in our lives. We need to know what to do when He calls us to walk on water, and what we must do is found in this same passage which is written down for us to learn from.
‘’Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.’’
Firstly, we note from V21 of Matt.14 quoted above, that Peter’s adventure of walking on water occurred on that same day that the Lord fed five thousand men – besides women and children – with five loaves and two fishes; yet there remained twelve baskets full of leftovers to cart away. What next?
Vs.22 – There were three surprises here (1) it was the Lord who CONSTRAINED His disciples get into a boat to sail before Him to the other side. (2) The Lord did that STRAIGHTWAY after the feeding of the crowd. He was in a great hurry! (3) He was in such a great hurry to send the disciples to the other side that He Himself had to wait behind alone to disperse the crowd. Why? Would Evangelist Reinhardt Bonnke be the one to wait behind after a crusade to send the crowd away while his assisting Pastors and other aides had long gone off?
Vs.23 – More surprises! The Lord did not make any effort to follow the disciples to the other side immediately, He rather went up to a mountain to pray – all alone! And He was there for hours! Let’s face it, in those days crusades had to end before dark, so the Lord may have finished sending the crowd away and gone up to pray between the hours of six and seven pm; that is, in what is known as the first watch in New Testament era. Okay! What next?
Vs.24 – The ship carrying the disciples was now in the middle of nowhere on the sea and there was a terrible storm blowing them to and fro! ‘Sweet Lord! You know everything from what we know of You! Did You not know that at that precise time of the night a contrary wind would blow and seek to destroy us and the boat? Why then did You not ask us to wait on land with You or, at least, have gone with us? Lord, You actually CONSTRAINED us to get into the boat and we could not disobey You!’
Beloved, have you not been there too? Has the Lord never sent you on a mission or told you in those certain ways that we have of knowing ‘This is the Lord leading me to do this! I am sure of it!’ And while you were still riding high on that glory-cloud, following in the leading of the Lord, all hell breaks loose and you begin to wonder ‘Did God really say…?’
Beloved, I have been there many times; and, as the Lord lives, you too will find yourself there again and again in your walk with the Lord. Say, Amen! Yes, say Amen, because the Lord is simply putting you to a test of faith to see how much you really love and trust Him. Not that He does not have that information already – since our innermost thoughts are open to Him – but He needs us to be able to see and judge with Him whether we have failed Him or whether we have passed the test.
A case in point – In his wildest dreams, Peter would never have imagined that he could deny his Lord whom he loved so much; but the test proved the Lord to have prophesied correctly (naturally!) that within the next few hours, Peter would deny his Lord and Master three times! See Matt.26:34-75.
Back to Peter’s mid-sea crisis –
Vs.25 – Next, the Lord shows up where the disciples were being tossed about on the turbulent sea. When? In the fourth watch! That is, between the hours of three and six in the morning, more than ten hours since the crusade ended and the disciples got onto the boat, leaving the Lord behind!
Beloved, this is a terrifyingly long period of time to even imagine that the Lord is not near us; and we do not know how many of those long hours were they being tossed about in the storm.
The other wonder we note in this verse is that the Lord came to them in a most unusual way for a person to transport himself by sea – He came walking on the sea! And this added to their distress rather than relieve it as we note in the very next verse –
Vs.26 – The disciples totally freaked out and screamed in fear when they saw the Lord walking on the sea, so sure that they had seen a ghost which had come to finish them off! Beloved, behold the valiant disciples, cowering in stark terror at the appearance of the Answer to their prayers, simply because He appeared in a form that was totally alien to them! And yet, is it not normal for the sea to cooperate with its Maker and bear Him up willingly to His destination? Besides, did He walk all the way from the shore, I always wonder? That must have been a long, long walk indeed!
Rather, I am so sure that the Lord of Glory simply materialised near the boat, as He later used to do after His death when He appeared to the disciples even behind closed doors. See Luke 20:26. And I can imagine something which I can see now because I was not in the boat on that dark, fearful night – surely there was no storm around the Lord, and the sea and the winds were calm especially between Him and the boat; if not Peter would not have dared to leave the boat to go to Jesus! What do you think, Beloved?
What next? This is getting so, so edge-of-my-seat exciting!
Vs.27 – Straightaway, that sweet loving Voice that calms all our fears came and took them out of their misery, saying, ‘’Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid’’. Wow! In plain English, ‘’Don’t be scared, rather rejoice! It is I, Jesus, the Saviour, the Answer to all your fears, the Solution to all your challenges, the mighty terrible One raised up to terrify all that terrifies you!’’
Are you in mid-sea crisis right now, Beloved, and the solution looks more terrifying than the crisis? Listen for that Voice, look into The Word and let Him talk to you. Listen with your inner ear in Church and in fellowships, and hear what the Spirit is saying to you presently and be of good cheer, be not afraid, rather rejoice; for your Lord has come to save you and salvage all you have lost in the crisis and more, but only if you cooperate with Him.
Vs.28,29 – Now Peter is fully recovered and ready to cooperate with the Lord and walk to where the Lord is – the place of calm, the place of stability, the place of safety. First, he did the right thing – he put the Spirit that spoke to him to the test! He needed a second witness to that initial Voice of the Lord that came. He was not wrong; he was only obeying what the Lord had taught them, saying, ‘’that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’’ Matt.18:16b.
He said to the Lord, ‘’Lord, I can see You, and I can hear Your loving Voice reassuring me that it is You standing right here with me in this storm; but I need Your reassurance. I need to know that I have not brought this storm upon myself. I need to know that even if I did, You will forgive me and deliver me. I need to be saved out of this storm, Lord, and I know that with You is the only place of safety. Please let me come to You now; call me out of this fearfully rocking boat even onto the water where You are, Lord, for You are the true Ark of safety. If You can stand on this water, I can too, for I can do all things through the strength that comes from only You.’’
Vs.29a – The Lord needs only to hear that we are ready to cooperate with Him and that sweet, sweet Voice would come and tell us what to do! He said to Peter, ‘’Come’’. In that simple word, I believe the Lord is saying more than ‘’Okay, Peter, get out of the boat unto this water’’. I believe the Lord is calling Peter, and through him, all His followers, into some of the greatest adventures we can ever imagine the Christian life could be! He is telling Peter and us, ‘’This is not a dull life at all, Beloved, but a life dotted with the kind of excitement you have never imagined! However, you have to trust Me absolutely when I call you at certain times, and you must do exactly as I say.’’
This reminds me of a story I read somewhere of some mountain climbers who had an accident during an expedition in a snowstorm and fell off the mountain-side. One of them found himself hanging by his rope and he prayed fervently to the Lord to save him. The good Lord said quietly into his heart, ‘’Let go of the rope’’. What? No way, the man was not going to let go of the only hope he can see and touch! ‘’Ah! Lord, I mean help those searching for us to find me in time or something in that line of action.’’ The Lord still said, ‘’Trust Me and let go of the rope!’’ The man still refused and hung on to the rope. In the morning light, when he was found by the rescuers, he was still holding onto the rope, hanging only two feet from the solid ground!
Unbelievers sometimes see us as a people living a dull life, full of don’ts, and this deters them from joining us in the Ark of Salvation. They believe it will be a life that will deprive them of their precious freedom, not knowing that life in Christ is the only life that offers true liberty –
‘’Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. 35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. 36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.’’
Back to our mid-sea crisis adventure study –
Vs.29b,30 – Peter believed his Lord and trusted Him absolutely, and he resolutely stepped out of the boat and began to walk on water – an unprecedented feat in the history of mankind! We are told his goal, his focus was to go to Jesus. However, he soon lost focus and did not keep his eyes on Jesus! He got distracted and allowed himself to believe a satanic lie, shouting in his face, ‘’Peter! Are you for real! There is a storm out there!’’ True, there was a storm out there, but was it in Peter’s way on his walk to Jesus? I doubt it, or he would never have stepped out of that boat.
What concerns us about storms out there when the Lord has said ‘’Come’’?
When He has said –
‘’Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; 6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. 7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.’’ Psa.91:5-7
When He has said –
‘’But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. 2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee:..’’ Isa.43:1,2a
When He has said…. the places in Scripture are endless, where God promised that no harm shall befall us so long as we do His bidding. And we can even dare the storm like the three Hebrew boys did and say to it –
‘’…we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us…, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, (O storm). But if not, be it known unto thee, (O storm), that we will not serve thy gods (by name, FEAR and whatever the crisis is called), nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.’’
We can be like Habakkuk and dare the storm and declare in song and dance, saying –
‘’Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: 18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation…’’ Hab.3:17,18
Because we are certain as Habakkuk was, that –
‘’The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.’’
And because –
‘’…we know that all things (good and bad, Beloved!) work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.’’
My goodness, Beloved! Storms so hate a Biblically informed Christian that they just roll over, weep and quench when we keep moving on the water, unfrazzled, keeping our eyes fixed on our dependable Lord! Raising up a storm against us is not worth it to the devil if it cannot stampede us into fearfully turning our backs on God!
The minute Peter lost focus and gave in to fear, he began to sink; but note that he did not waste time whimpering and wringing his hands in regret, but rather called unto the Lord for help. Yes, no matter how much we have let the Lord down and disobeyed Him, we must not hesitate to turn to Him and ask for His help. He knows our feeble frame; He knows our weaknesses; He has been there too.
Vs.31 – The most awesome beauty of our Lord is that nobody calls onto Him in trouble in vain. I quote – ‘’And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?’’ He will save, yes, but He will rebuke us as well, thereby letting us know that He cares for us.
Let’s dissect the rebuke for a moment – another way of translating this from the Greek is – ‘’O you of short-lived faith! Why did you give it another thought (that you are walking on water and defying the law of gravity which I Myself set up and can break at any time I need to)?’’ How true! Peter had enough faith to get him out of the boat onto the water, no doubt, but the faith was short-lived, it died a premature death before it could get him to his goal. It died because he considered other opinions apart from the Lord’s ‘Come’, simple as it was. He went into Theological and scientific discussion with the carnal part of himself which did not hear that loving Voice say ‘Come’; and he began to sink.
Beloved, I have found over and over again that so long as the Lord has called us in no uncertain terms and we have confirmed it in Scripture, and through the mouth of one or two other Believers we trust, it should not matter to us who says to the contrary. Instructions from the Lord are just not open to debate – we must obey when He calls at His own given time. Yes, we must take whatever contrary opinion back to God, and then we must follow whatever answer gives us peace in our hearts, no matter how difficult it looks.
Gen.41:16 ‘’…God shall give…an answer of peace.’’
Phil.4:6,7 ‘’Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus’’
The dumbfounding events following immediately after Peter was rescued can be found in two Biblical two accounts of this story and are so exciting that I must quote both references –
Matt.14:32,33 ‘’And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. 33. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.’’
Jn.6:21 ‘’Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.’’
What do we have here? Amazing things that happen when we overcome a mid-sea crisis –
- The minute the Lord enters any boat in a storm, the storm must cease! But note a secret in the Apostle John’s account – they willingly received Him into the boat, so sure now that it is the Lord. We must willingly cooperate with the Lord and receive Him into our boat, never resenting Him and getting upset for a minute; because the method He may choose to use to get us into and out of the crisis may be terrifying! We must recognise that He is sovereign and sees the larger picture. Besides, we must be assured that He is very much at hand and has not deserted us. In fact, He is right now with God, interceding for us as He was doing that night on the mountain on that night of Peter’s storm.
We must turn to Him, and acknowledge that we are finished without Him; and we must spend time in praising Him in the storm, reminding ourselves (not Him!) of how He has been mighty in the lives of all those who called unto Him in the past, including we ourselves. Praise has a wonderful way of taking our eyes off the storm and fastening them onto Jesus.
- They suddenly saw the Lord as being truly the Son of God! There is a dimension of the revelation of the Lord of Glory which we can only see AFTER we have gone through a mid-sea crisis; and it results in a deeper level of worship and service.
- The most exciting part of it all is that as soon as He entered the boat, they found themselves immediately at their destination! Wow! No more struggles, no more fear, no more sweat! His Presence brings in the momentum and increase which we need in Ministry to be encouraged to keep going. When we arrive at the other side and see all that, we would almost look forward to another mid-sea crisis!
Let’s read the rest of the account in the Gospel of Matthew to check out the blessings that followed –
Vs.35,38 – Somehow, a fame of the Lord had preceded Him to the other side and a multitude were waiting for Him there. And now, He did not need to minister to them individually because of the new momentum that has been gathered in Ministry – He simply walked through the corridor made by the line-up of the sick and all they needed to do was to touch the hem of His garment and they not only received their healing, but ‘’were made perfectly whole’’! That means healing, salvation, deliverance and all that Jesus came to give us, all rolled into one through a touch of His garment!
Let’s pray, Beloved –
Lord, I thank You for all You have taught me in this study. I ask You today to help me when my mid-sea crises come, to recognise Your Hand and focus on You and never be afraid or complain or blame others. Let me rather spend time wrapped in Your loving presence, watching Your loving Face, listening for Your sweet Voice telling me what to do. Holy Spirit of God, anoint my eyes with Your oils from the two olive trees in heaven so that I will see my Lord when He comes to me with the solution to the crisis, in Jesus Name. Anoint my ears too, so that I will discern the Voice of my Shepherd, and please empower me to do whatsoever He says to me, in Jesus Name. Amen.
You guessed right – I wrote this during the most recent mid-sea crisis!