Lessons From Peter’s Walk on the Water
Text: Matthew 14:22-33
I. The events here immediately follow the miraculous feeding of a great multitude of people (5000 men, plus women and children).
A. Jesus sends his disciples in a boat to the other shore while he dismissed the crowd.
B. Jesus then climbs a nearby mountain to pray into the evening.
C. Meanwhile the disciples ran into a storm.
1. The wind was against them and the boat was being battered by the waves.
2. The boat had traveled 3 to 4 miles out into the sea (John 6:19). (In other words, it wasn’t close to shore, so turning around to make for shore wasn’t an option.)
D. After allowing the disciples to struggle all night, Jesus walks out to them on the water during the fourth watch (between 3 and 6 am)
E. When the disciples see Jesus walking on the water, they cried out in fear, supposing a ghost was approaching them. However, Jesus called to them to take courage that it was he and there was no need to be afraid.
II. The brash Peter replied,”Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
A. Peter knew that all he needed was the beckoning of the Lord, and His will would be done.
B. Here is the basis of faith: a “thus saith the Lord.”
1. We can do whatever the Lord commands and we dare not do anything that the Lord has not authorized.
2. Faith comes by hearing the words of Christ - Romans 10:1
3. We walk by faith - II Corinthians 5:7
4. Whatever we do, do it with the authority of Jesus - Colossians 3:17
a. Not saying that Jesus will authorize whatever I chose to do
b. But that I must chose to only do only the things Jesus has authorized.
C. Jesus gave Peter the command that Peter wanted – “Come”
III. Peter steps out of the boat and walks on the water, but he did not get far before he began to sink.
A. Why did Peter sink?
1. Was it because he couldn’t walk on water? No, he did walk for a short while.
2. Was it because he lacked interest or effort? No, he asked for permission and he was in the process of walking
B. Peter started to sink because he began to doubt that he could accomplish what Christ had commanded.
1. If doubt the words of Jesus, then we also doubt Him.
2. Jesus speaks the words of God - John 12:48-49
3. II John 9
C. So, why did Peter doubt?
1. Verse 30 tells us it started when Peter saw the strength of the wind.
2. Peter would not have noticed the wind and the waves if he had been focusing on Jesus. - Hebrews 12:1-3
a. When we begin to focus on our problems – temptations, worldly influences, ungodliness, and daily battles – it isn’t hard to lose heart
b. This is not to say that if we ignore these things they will go away.
c. We must be aware of them and careful not to let them trap us. However, we must be careful as to how we allow our awareness of these things affect us.
d. Peter’s problem was not so much that he was aware of the wind and the waves as he focused on them and allowed his awareness to become fear, which in turn overcame his faith.
e. In that moment of doubt, he forgot which was more powerful – the wind and the waves, or the creator of all things.
3. This is why Jesus scolded Peter, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
a. Poem by William Blake
This life’s dim windows of the soul
Distort the heavens from pole to pole
And lead you to believe a lie,
When you see with, and not through, the eye.
b. We tend to see things as they appear to our carnal senses.
(1) We see our enemies as the Israelites saw the armies of Canaan - Numbers 13:32-14:3
(2) God promised them the land. It was theirs for the taking.
(3) Joshua and Caleb had faith - Numbers 13:30
(4) The other ten spies had doubts - Numbers 13:31
(5) They were deceived into thinking they could not win. And they were right, because their faith was overcome by fear due to their perception of the situation.
IV. Have we allowed doubt to overcome our faith?
A. If God commands us to be holy – can we be holy? - I Peter 1:16
B. If God tells us to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age, can we?
1. Titus 2:11-12
2. The one who practices righteousness is righteous.
C. Some are saying, “No, I can’t. I can’t leave my sins behind.” – O ye of little faith!
D. When we attempt to fight our own battles with our own strength and schemes, turning to human devised ploys to bring in crowds or to do the work of the church – we demonstrate our lack of faith in the Gospel and its author.
E. We cannot defeat the waves of false teaching, worldliness, apathy, or doubt by compromising or pretending they don’t exist.
1. Peter’s walk on the water was not dependent on him ignoring the wind and the waves, but upon his trusting and obeying Jesus Christ despite the wind and the waves.
F. We need to learn to trust in Jesus and his way completely. We need to use the ability and strength that he provides - Ephesians 6:10-18
V. Peter walked on the water. Yet, when he began to sink he cried out “Lord, save me.”
A. If we stumble, the Lord is there to save us - I John 1:9
B. Colossians 2:5-7 - You can do it!