Right away, Jesus made his disciples get into a boat and start back across the lake. But he stayed until he had sent the crowds away. Then he went up on a mountain where he could be alone and pray. Later that evening, he was still there. By this time the boat was a long way from the shore. It was going against the wind and was being tossed around by the waves. A little while before morning, Jesus came walking on the water toward his disciples. When they saw him, they thought he was a ghost. They were terrified and started screaming. At once, Jesus said to them, “Don’t worry! I am Jesus. Don’t be afraid.” Peter replied, “Lord, if it is really you, tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come on!” Jesus said. Peter then got out of the boat and started walking on the water toward him. But when Peter saw how strong the wind was, he was afraid and started sinking. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Right away, Jesus reached out his hand. He helped Peter up and said, “You surely don’t have much faith. Why do you doubt?” When Jesus and Peter got into the boat, the wind died down. The men in the boat worshiped Jesus and said, “You really are the Son of God!” Matthew 14:22-33 (CEV)
I’ve heard preachers and teachers use this story many times over the years, and normally they make a point that Peter must have turned his eyes away from Jesus and thus been overwhelmed and begun to sink. But as I was re-reading the passage recently, I notice that it doesn’t mention anything at all that Peter did in order to start doubting other than that he saw the wind and was afraid.
As I read it this time I pictured Peter, battered by the wind, with the waves pouring over him, beginning to think that he couldn’t possibly stay on top of the water. And as he apparently was sinking, he cried out.
Was it because Peter is sinking or because he cries out in fear that Jesus calls him “little faith”? I suspect it was because he didn’t trust Jesus to get him through the waves. I don’t think Jesus lost control of Peter’s situation for even a moment. To Peter, and to the apostles in the boat, it may have seemed that Peter was sinking. But Jesus was faithful to what he had told Peter he could do.
When we step out of our boat to walk where Jesus has told us to walk, do we need to be afraid? If we are following the command of Jesus, we can know that HE will be faithful, no matter what problems we may have. We may feel that the wind and the waves are too great. But they are not too great for Him. We may feel that we are sinking, that all hope is lost, that we must have taken a wrong step. But regardless of where we’re looking or what we’re doing, He is still there. And even if he says, “Oh you with little faith” Jesus nonetheless stretches his hand out and leads us through to safety.
Remember: In everything we do, Jesus is still there and he is still faithful. AND Jesus reaches out his hand to us.