Today in Sunday school class, we were studying Matthew 14:22-32. It is an account of the night that Jesus walked on the waters of the Sea of Galilee and out to the boat where His disciples were rowing against a high wind. Matthew is the only gospel that records Peter getting out of the boat. It went something like this:
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
First, Mathew makes it sound like an everyday occurrence - that Jesus would go walking on the lake. It's almost what you might call understatement. This is recorded in similar fashion in Mark 6 and John 6. I suppose it could be the result of the translation process, but there is little emotion. They just say flatly that He went out to them walking on the lake. There's no 'Wow, he went out to them walking on the lake' or 'Amazingly, he went out to them walking on the lake'. It's like it's no big deal at all.
What follow though is instructive. I'm talking about Peter. Once he is sure that it's Jesus on the water, he is more than willing to step out of the boat and walk toward Jesus...on the water. It's true that he gets distracted by the weather, the wind and the waves. He does take his eyes off Jesus. He does start to sink. His faith is shallow even though the lake is not. But really, what's so bad about his intentions? He starts out well and aside from Jesus Himself, I think Peter still holds the all time record for water walking.
Jesus does pull him out of the water and they both get into the boat. Worship ensues.
You have to wonder what Peter thinks after the event; what he is feeling, sitting there in the boat soaking wet and shivering. His best impulses failed him. He wanted to be like his Lord, but his senses betrayed him. Do you think he was embarrassed or ashamed of his brash forwardness and impulsiveness? Well, maybe, but would that be just one evaluation of the event?
This is my opinion, but I think Peter did well. Peter was more trusting in Jesus than he was afraid for himself. While the others cowered in the boat, Peter got out and walked toward Jesus. It was only his loss of faith in himself I think that caused him to start sinking. Had he surrendered control of the events to Jesus completely, I think he would have been able to finish what he started.
My thought is that you live and learn. Faith and trust do not come naturally and neither does self confidence or a willingness to give up control.
Peter learned much that night and so did the disciples. This was no ordinary Rabbi they were following. This was the Son of God.
Peter did well in my view. I would like to have known him. Someday I will.