I want to talk about one of the most famous stories in the Bible or at least in American churches today. It’s a story about magic. Real magic. The kind David Blaine dreams of. Criss Angel even tried it.
Side Note: If you really want to know how it’s done, a simple YouTube search for ‘Criss Angel exposed’ will do the trick.
I’m talking about Peter walking on water.
Matthew 14:22-33 NLT tells the story you’ve heard a million times. Peter is on a boat during a storm with his friends. He sees what most think a ghost off in the distance but he thinks it’s Jesus. He calls out to him. Jesus calls back and tells him to come. He decides to step over the ledge, into the wind, into the water and walks to Jesus. He sinks a little, but Jesus saves him. They get back on the boat and it’s all over.
The message you’ve heard over and over has probably been around the faith to walk on water.
- “Man, if I had the faith Peter had…”
- “If only I had the faith to take that step…”
- “What’s the boat in my life I need to step out from?”
- “Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, that my faith would be made stronger…” (Hillsong lyric)
To me, all of that, misses the boat.
Here they are, the disciples, all on a boat together. Jesus literally just told them before they got on it, “Bro chill, I’ll see you in a minute”. His appearance couldn’t have changed drastically. They were just with him. It gets late, and the sea is rough. They look out at 3:00 am, tired and exhausted, and they see Jesus; who they were just with.
They all think it’s a ghost. All but one person, Peter.
I want you to put yourself on that boat. You just woke up from dozing off, see some guy out on the water at 3:00 am and you’re convinced it’s a ghost. But your boy Peter is convinced its Jesus.
What’s your conversation like with Peter?
- “Peter, you’re an idiot. That’s not Jesus, that’s a ghost.”
- “We’re a mile from shore. How could anyone be standing on water?”
- “You’re insane. Go back to bed”
Peter ignores you and shouts, “Yo Jesus, if that’s you, holler at your boy!”
This is where everyone turns their attention to Peter getting off the boat. Which is absolutely a great and amazing testament of faith. But what about Peter taking the step away from his friends and towards Jesus? Peter’s faith wasn’t realized when he put his foot over the edge of the boat. His faith was realized when believed the voice from the water was Jesus and he stepped forward. Still on the boat, but still in faith.
I would easily hop over the boat. Even if I didn’t think Jesus was going to hook me up with some mad walk on water skills, I could swim. Even if I couldn’t swim, I’d figure it out on my way. Give me some floaties and let’s do this!
The step of faith
The biggest step in faith Peter took, was where he looked at his friends who were convinced what he saw and heard was not Jesus and said, “No, I know his voice. I know my king. I know my Jesus. He told me to catch him outside and so I’m going to catch him outside, how about that?” and stepped away from his friends.
We know the next part where he loses his footing and Jesus saves the day like he always does. Jesus grabs Peter and they walk back to the boat, on the water.
This is the second incredible thing is it says, “Then those in the boat worshiped Him and said, “Truly You are the Son of God!””
Related Post: Faith and Experience
It’s funny how when God moves, we often look and say, “That’s not God moving” until HE gets closer and we find ourselves in his presence. God moving in the distance is never as clear as God moving in your midst. We forget that his ways are not our ways (aka walking and not swimming to the boat). It’s only once he draws near to us do we remember the God who is above all, is above all.
The most overlooked question of the story is, whose faith caused them to believe? Was it their own? Did they freely believe it was Jesus?
No, Peter’s faith caused his friends to believe.
Peter is the one who sought Jesus, found him, and brought his presence back to the boat. Peter’s faith was the cornerstone of his friends faith in that moment.
Here’s the question I see in this story, what is God calling you to do? Being terrified of stepping out and away from your friends is understandable. It’s not that your friends or family are making irrational points. They’re actually making rational points. It’s common logic to assume its a ghost on the waves. But God is not logical. He works outside logic.
Where do you need to have faith in your life? Not crazy step over the boat faith, but subtle this is where God is leading me faith? You already know this answer. It’s nothing new. You recognize his voice and know where he’s calling you.
The Greatest Magic Trick
It’s always crazy to step away from comfort. It’s always crazy to stand up to friends and family. It is crazy to follow Jesus. It’s something beyond ordinary. It’s extraordinary; actually, its magic. Like walking on water magic. Don’t ever be afraid to step over the boat, into the wind and the waves. Step away from the naysayers and step into the wind. He will always carry you!