Matthew 14: 28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
Isn’t it wonderful that no matter how many times we read a passage from the Bible, it will never get old or too familiar? The possibilities will never run dry for learning new things, seeing a story from a new angle, or grasping a familiar concept in a fresh way. Unlike any other written document, the Bible is alive! It is God’s literal words spoken to us which can penetrate to our innermost parts. Ah, the wonder of the mysterious ways of our awe-some God.
This renewed sense of the Bible’s alive-ness came as I read the story of Jesus walking on water in Matthew 14. The disciples see this “ghost” walking on the water and they are terrified (as any of us would be). To calm them, Jesus speaks peace upon them and says, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” Now the disciples could have had many responses to this. They were probably still not convinced of their safety, but Peter breaks the mold with a response that is so unexpected and brazen. He basically says, “Prove it!” and commands Jesus to have him come and walk on the water too. I’m taken aback. Is that a proper response to the Son of God who is at that very moment demonstrating his deity and supernatural power by walking on water? I almost expect this God-man to strike Peter down right there or at least reprimand his shameless request. But again, Jesus’ reply is not what’s expected. He is not offended by Peter’s boldness and desire to be sure of his words. Jesus simply says, “Come.” And when, only seconds later, Peter’s confidence falters and he begins to sink, Jesus reaches out his hand and leads him to safety.
There is so much richness in this tiny little story that takes up only a few verses. There is a lot we can learn from Peter’s boldness and Jesus’ answer. Because of the response I had to this interaction I came to realize that I often limit what I think God can do. I thought Peter’s request to Jesus inappropriate, but Jesus didn’t. Jesus did what Peter asked and blessed Peter with a supernatural, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Peter, instead of fearing the unknown like the other disciples, decided to take a chance. He wasn’t going to believe what this “ghost” claimed until he went out there and made sure he was who he said he was. Who of us is bold enough to ask Jesus to do something so miraculous? To question Jesus from the desire to be sure of his identity? Jesus wants us to be sure of him and he wants us to experience his power to its fullest; but do we have that desire and are we asking him for it? James 4:2b says, “You do not have because you do not ask.”
This has challenged me to be bolder in prayer with my Father. He is not limited in power or ability. There is no request too big that would offend him. He can do so much more than we ever imagine to ask for and more beyond that! Our God wants to be glorified in this world. He desires to “show off” his greatness and power so all the nations can see and he has chosen to do so through us, his children. Let’s not be timid in our requests. Let’s be bold like Peter and ask for big things from God. And we can’t stop there. We must also trust in the words of Jesus and take that first step into the waves. There is nothing to fear. He will lead the way and when we falter (because we will falter) he will hold our hands tight and encourage our faith. If we are thinking eternally, our uncertainties, our fears, and our human limitations will decrease, the desire to know Christ and his power will grow, and name of our Lord will be made great in this world!
Matthew 14:25-33 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.”