28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.
Are you a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty person? Your answer to that question really says a lot about how you read the Bible. When we read the account of Simon Peter walking on the water toward Jesus in Matthew 14:22-33, we typically focus on the latter half of the story, where Peter lost his nerve and started to sink. We read again about “O you of little faith” and that becomes the center of the lesson: we need to have more faith and never doubt that faith in our Savior will buoy us through the fiercest storm. That is a good lesson to learn, but, of course, it leads me to ask this: Have YOU ever walked on water?
Think about it. In the whole Bible, there is not one mention of someone walking on water. Yes, Moses, Joshua, Elijah, and Elisha parted the water. And Elisha caused an axe-head to float on the water. But no one ever walked on the water until Jesus and Peter did it.
We ought to remember that this is the same Simon Peter who marveled with the other apostles when Jesus calmed the storm in a previous trip on the Sea of Galilee. (Matthew 8:23-27) And this time, with the boat once again tossed by the waves because of a contrary wind (Matthew 14:24), Peter saw his Lord and asked for the ultimate confirmation: command him to do the impossible. It was amazing enough that Jesus found them on that storm-tossed sea, and even more amazing that He WALKED out to them in the middle of the sea. The apostles were understandably afraid that the figure approaching them was a ghost, an illusion, or perhaps even a demon. So, Peter asked Jesus to prove that He was who He seemed to be, asking for the ability to do something no one else has ever done. If the figure they saw truly was an apparition, then Peter would fall into the waves right away, and his friends in the boat could probably rescue him. But if this really was Jesus…
Peter spoke a command of his own, saying, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” Peter WANTED to be with his Master no matter where He was, and He knew that only Jesus could ever call someone to do that. Peter knew that Jesus would empower anyone He called, and he also knew that those who are called would be able to do anything that Jesus does. If Jesus can heal, then so can His disciples. If Jesus can cast out demons, then so can His disciples. If Jesus can walk on water, then so can anyone whom He calls.
Peter asked to be empowered, to be called, to do miraculous things in the name of the Son of God. And this man, growing in his faith, got that command and that power, and he did the impossible! Again I ask: Have YOU ever walked on water? No? Then how can we look at Peter and marvel at his supposed lack of faith when we ourselves have never done what his faith enabled him to do?
This was another learning moment for Simon Peter, another chance to not only see how far he had yet to go but also a chance to see how far he had already come. Peter saw that his faith was getting stronger and stronger. Yes, Jesus gently rebuked His disciple for his doubt, but Peter was still the only disciple to step out of the boat and attempt that walk. What does that say about the faith of the fellows in the boat? What does that say about our faith today?
Glass-half-empty or glass-half-full? Not enough faith to reach the Lord, or plenty enough faith to do the impossible – even for a little while – in His name?
Today, we really ought to reflect on Peter’s amazing growth in his faith. This Simon Peter, the rough and ready fisherman, was slowly becoming the rock upon which Jesus would build His church. Peter still had far to go, but at this point we see he has traveled farther than any of us. Therefore, let us live by Peter’s example, and let us seek the Lord’s commandment to come to Him. Let us seek the power that only our faith can receive from Christ Jesus our Lord. And although we may sink or stumble, let us step boldly out of the boat and go wherever Christ is, knowing that He will preserve us and build our faith even more.
Gracious Lord God, we thank You, as we often do, for empowering us to do the impossible. Thank You for miracles and wonders, for healing and for life. Thank You for the mercy You’ve shown us, and thank You for the faith You grow in our hearts. Father, command me to come to You wherever You are today. Show me that You are God and that You will empower me to do Your will. I will falter, I am sure, but, dear Lord, I trust in You always. Amen.