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Walking on Water

and Other Insights from the Life of Simon Peter

Walking_on_Water_CoverThe brief chapters in this booklet provide insights into the life of one of Christ’s most beloved disciples, Simon Peter.  Adapted from sermons first published in a local newspaper and preached in a pastoral setting, these four chapters follow a devotional-expositional approach similar to that used in the author’s books Patterns to Ponder from Bible Characters and Mighty Man of Valour: A 31-Day Devotional from the Life of Gideon.  As such, this booklet provides a sampler of the author’s non-academic writings.

This booklet may be purchased HERE.  The following excerpt is the title chapter (c. 3): “Walking on Water.”  Other chapter titles include “Bringing Jesus Home,” “Success in Fishing,” and “A United Heart.”

3

Walking on Water

One of the best known narratives from the life of Peter appears in Matthew 14:22-33.  Jesus had sent the disciples ahead over the Sea of Galilee by boat while he prayed on a mountain.  A storm arose and Jesus went to join the disciples, walking on the water.  When they saw Him, the disciples were afraid, thinking He was an apparition.  However, when Christ called out to them, “It is I, be not afraid,” Peter was emboldened to request the privilege of joining Jesus on the water.  Jesus agreed, and Peter set out, walking on the water successfully at first.  However, Peter became distracted by the storm and began to sink until he was rescued by Jesus, who asked Peter why he doubted.  When they entered the boat, the wind calmed, prompting the disciples to acknowledge, “Of a truth thou art the Son of God.”

Perhaps the popularity of this account results from the fact that many of us relate with Peter’s attempt to get to the Master.  We too know what it feels like to go from the exhilaration of walking on water to the extremity of floundering in the waves.  If so, then a fresh look at this incident may help us not to waver in our Christian walk but to be buoyed up by faith.

Interestingly, Peter was the only disciple who dared to venture out of the boat, making him the only disciple to walk on water.  Of course, he was also the only disciple to sink, but he alone knew the relief of having the Master to grasp his hand and rescue him from a watery grave.  The others simply watched from the boat, missing out on one of the most remarkable adventures a follower of Christ has ever had.  What might we be missing by simply sitting in the “boat” of familiarity and comfort?

Before Jesus came on the scene, the boat was “tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.”  Here the elements represented an obstacle to progress.  So it often is with circumstances that confront us.  They seem to impede our progress—life seems “contrary” to our highest spiritual aspirations.

It was Jesus’ appearance that made the difference.  The Lord demonstrated that the water actually provided an opportunity to advance.  Water had always been an impediment before.  When the Israelites faced the Red Sea, God moved the water so that they could cross on dry land.  Likewise, the Lord sometimes moves obstacles out of our way.  However, Jesus did a new thing.  He didn’t move the water; He changed its function.  Instead of pulling Him under, the waves held Him up.  He turned an obstacle into an opportunity.

He can do the same for the storm in your life.  The very same situation can be either an obstacle or an opportunity—depending on your relationship with Christ.  What you’ve always seen as a stumbling-block can be transformed into a steppingstone by the Lord.  He can turn that impassable river into a bridge of hope that transports you to greater blessing than you can imagine.

If Christ turned an obstacle into an opportunity, then what caused Peter to sink?  Simply this—Peter got his eyes off Jesus.  For years I saw this as a warning against getting distracted by obstacles—difficult circumstances—and surely it is.  However, it also serves as a warning against getting our eyes set on opportunities—no matter how attractive they appear.  Even a positive development, like walking on water, can dissolve if we lose sight of Jesus.

If this happens, Peter’s example encourages us that there is still hope.  Peter recognized his definite need—he was sinking.  He gave a desperate cry—“Lord, save me.”  He received a direct response—the Lord “immediately” caught him.  Jesus wants to do the same for those overwhelmed by obstacles or opportunities today.

May Peter’s boldness inspire us to venture out of our “comfort zones” into new exploits with Christ.  Remember that the Lord can turn the worst of circumstances into the greatest of blessings.  Let us focus on Him, and if we falter, let us turn to Him for help, knowing that He will mightily intervene, even for those of “little faith.”

No purchases on the Lord’s Day, please (Exodus 20:8-11).

Copyright © 2014 by Wallace Thornton, Jr.  All Rights Reserved.