The passage is a familiar story. One most kids in Sunday school can tell. It’s a simple story about Peter, and what happens when we take our eyes off Jesus. At least that’s part of it… But is there more to it than just that? We know how Peter reacted, but he wasn’t the only one on the boat. What about the others? What lesson do they hold for us?
Immediately after feeding the 5,000, Jesus sent the disciples out in a boat while He went up into the hills to pray. You see, He knew something they didn’t. He knew He was sending them into a storm that would test their faith and offer them another opportunity to participate in something miraculous. Their faith had to have been at an all time high after being active participants in the miracle of feeding so many people with 2 little fish and 5 loaves of bread. I’m sure they were still talking about all those baskets of leftovers as they sat sail. “Can you believe it?! Twelve baskets of leftovers!!”
And everything was probably going great… Until the storm hit.
Strong winds and dangerous waves rocked the disciple’s boat, making them anxious. Jesus could have come to their rescue immediately. But instead, He chose to wait until late in the night. After all, our faith isn’t strengthened if He stops the storms in our life before they ever happen.
At exactly the right time, Jesus showed up walking on the water. But the disciples didn’t recognize him… Are you kidding me?! How could they not recognize him? They had just left his presence, yet their first thought was that it must be a ghost?! Even after He spoke, they still weren’t sure it was Him! Once they realized that it really was Jesus who was walking across the waves, Peter asked Jesus to let him walk on the water along side Him. And we all know how that ends… Peter walked on the water until he began to focus on the waves and wind, instead of the One who controls them. And as Peter sank into the sea, Jesus lifted him out of the water and into the safety of the boat, chastising him for his lack of faith.
But what about the other disciples? What was their role in the story? Peter was the only one who trusted Jesus enough to step out of the safety of the boat, and for whatever reason, the others chose not to get out.
Maybe it was because they felt more protected from the storm in the familiarity of the boat. Don’t we all long to stay where we know it’s safe rather than stepping out into the unknown? What Jesus asks us to do doesn’t always make sense or seem safe. But, just like with Peter, He’s always going to be there to pick us up when we start to sink.
Maybe it was because they still weren’t sure it was Jesus. It looked and sounded like him, but they weren’t convinced enough to actually step out. “What if..” they were thinking. Aren’t we the same way? We are pretty sure we know what He wants us to do, but we aren’t about to act until He gives us an indisputable sign. We’ll keep “praying about” what He wants us to do; never actually doing anything.
Maybe it was because they knew it was Him and that He could protect them, but doubted if they were worthy of such an experience. Who were they to be a part of something miraculous? Shouldn’t He use someone without all their failures? After all, He KNEW them and He knows us too. We look around and see others that we think would be better at serving in a particular area or don’t serve because we feel like everyone knows we really aren’t worthy of being used. We’ve messed up way too many times for God to use us…
Maybe it was because, like so many church goers today, they were content to watch as someone else had the experience. We know God’s doing great things in our church, but we want to watch from the sidelines rather than getting involved. We would rather be a spectator to what God’s doing rather than being an active part. It’s a lot more comfortable simply attending than it is becoming a member of the local church and having to serve.
In the end they were all saved from the storm, but Peter was the only one to have an intimate encounter with a miracle. His faith was not unfaltering (he got scared and started to sink), but he was available. He wasn’t completely certain of what he was doing or what he was stepping out into, but he followed Jesus. He wasn’t worthy, but he didn’t miss the experience.
None of us will ever be worthy of being used, and He certainly doesn’t need us to accomplish His plans. But he does want us to experience the indescribable joy of stepping out in faith. I may not fully understand what He’s calling me to step out into, but I don’t want to miss the incredible experiences God has for me because I’m sitting in the boat. Do you?
Carla, Church Administrator