By: Jana Greene
A popular Christian culture adage is: “If you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat.”
I’m not sure the un-churched among us get the reference. So I’m writing this post for anyone who…
(A) Knows about the biblical Peter and chuckles a little at the phrase, or
(B) Is convinced that walking on water is impossible because SCIENCE, and considers stepping out of a perfectly seaworthy vessel to walk on the surface of water just another of the nutty things Christians like to think Jesus did back in the day.
But Jesus isn’t the only one who walked on the water – Peter did as well.
Of all the disciples that Jesus called his crew, Peter is my favorite by a landslide. Peter is my homeboy.
He was all emotion, all of the time. I GET that. If any disciple made Jesus want to face-palm, it was probably Peter.
Peter was a Flaky-Fervent paradox.
A story in Matthew 14 describes Peter’s bravery, faith and faint-hardheartedness thus:
“…With the crowd dispersed, Jesus climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night. While Jesus was praying alone, some of his followers – including Peter – were out fishing.
……Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. ‘A ghost!’ they said, crying out in terror.
But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”
Peter, suddenly bold, said, ‘Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.’ And Jesus said “come ahead…
Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, ‘Master, save me!’
(I’m certain that Peter’s thoughts are legion – How deep IS this water? What is Jesus THINKING? Are there sharks in here, perhaps even giant squid? What about jellyfish? And getting struck by lightning? I can’t believe I am going to die this way….and I’M SINKING!!!)
EYES ON ME, PETER…EYES ON ME…. Jesus reminds the sinking disciple.
Although Jesus slapped his forehead in frustration (okay, that part is my translation…) “(He) didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed Peter’s hand. Then he said, ‘Faint-heart, what got into you?’
…The two of them climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. The disciples in the boat, having watched the whole thing, worshiped Jesus, saying, ‘This is it! You are God’s Son for sure’!”
– Matthew 14:24-36 (MSG)
Peter was your passion guy. Even though he doubted, he JUMPED. He often didn’t let a thought cross his mind before it was out of his mouth. He was all-out, sold-out, 100% loyal to Christ, until that one time when he wasn’t…..and it was a biggie. He denied that he even knew Christ THREE times during the night of Jesus’ trial. Jesus had predicted the denial earlier in the day, but Peter implored his master that he would NEVER deny him, no way ever, and how could you even THINK such a thing, Jesus?
I think Peter made Jesus face-palm, but I KNOW Peter broke Jesus’s heart. Still, his love for his follower was so great that it eclipsed Peter’s foibles. Even after walking on water, he denied Christ. Jesus could have washed his hands of Peter, but He didn’t.
Having changes his name from “Simon” to “Peter” – which means “rock” – Jesus assured his capricious, water-walking brethren “And on that rock, I will build my church.”
Jesus, who had his pick of any of the Holy Rollers of his day, didn’t choose the well-schooled priests and rabbis. The Torah memorizers. The judges. The Men who knew all the rules.
But he bypassed the most religious men of his time to build a church on the back of Flaky Pete. And it’s still standing thousands of years later.
After his resurrection, Jesus even took special care to rehabilitate Peter and assure him he was forgiven. He loved him, and that love was enough to spark a mission to redeem the whole world. Love is THE most powerful force. Stronger than gravity, or science, or giant squid. Jesus kept Peter above the waves, and He does no less for us.
God calls us to do impossible things at times. Are you a paradox? Welcome to the fold.
Do you find yourself called to believe what your eyes are telling you are not true?
Do you jump out of the boat and take a few steps, only to let your mind assess the reasons you will fail to float?
Your spirit may feel as heavy as a huge pack of rocks. But no matter….
EYES ON ME, Jesus is saying. EYES ON ME. You only start to sink when you take your eyes off of Me and consider all the dangers below.
If the Rock didn’t sink to the bottom of the ocean with Jesus guiding him, neither will you. Neither will I.
Courage, fellow paradoxical friends, and boldness.
God is calling you to do the impossible, Faint-Heart. Step out of the boat with the assurance that this is IT. He is God’s Son for sure.
And all things are possible with him!
I love, love, love this video (CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW). The music is stirring, the visuals stunning, and the message precious beyond all measure. I pray it blesses you today, water-walkers.
God bless us, every one.