You know the story where Jesus walks on the water?
In it, Peter also walks on the water before he freaks out and starts to sink – which is where Jesus saves the day. My cell leader kept going on about this story for a whole year with one key message: We need to get out of the boat to walk on the water with Jesus.
How will you exercise your faith, and walk on water with Jesus on water this year?
For some reason, that question tugged at my heart. I had a nagging feeling that I was missing something. But it all clicked when I read the passage about Jesus and His disciples in the storm.
“And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.
But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”” (Matthew 14:22-33)
This was the first time they acknowledged Jesus as divine (verse 33)! Prior to this, the disciples had seen Jesus performing various miracles, even calming a storm (Matthew 8:23-27) – the things He was doing was hearkening back to a time of miracles.
Think of the 5000 who Jesus fed, all with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fishes – with yet 12 baskets left over (Matthew 14:13-21)! The last time God miraculously fed so many Israelites was in the ancient days of quail and manna. The Israelites had complained themselves into 40 years of wandering. Even so, God did not forsake them. He provided manna, water and miraculously durable clothes and shoes which lasted for 40 years in the desert (Deuteronomy 29:5)!
Any Israelite would have remembered that period of provision from the God – the Great I AM – of the burning bush (Exodus 3:14).
So when the walking on water happens, and Jesus says “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27b), those words – it is I – cause them to understand who He really is (“It is I” is a callback to “I am” (Exodus 3:14)).
That is why they fell down in the boat and worshiped Jesus, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:32)
How amazing that it was fishermen who recognised Jesus as the Son of God – not religious leaders or intellectuals. What a privilege for them to “know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 13:11)!
So while the passage is a call to step out of my comfort zone like Peter, it’s also a lot more. It is Jesus revealed to the world. It is the life-giving truth that the Son of God wants to hold my hand as we walk upon the waves. The whole concept is nuts!
But I don’t want to doubt. I don’t want to be faithless and afraid.
No, I want to walk.