Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone. Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed. Matthew 14:22-33
This is an amazing story that has been preached on repeatedly. Recently there have been songs written on this story. There are so many elements to this story. What I want to focus on in this piece of history is Peter’s halfhearted leaps of faith. A halfhearted leap of faith is one where you do the initial leap and then realize your circumstances and you fall. Peter was the one disciple that you could rely on being bold at the wrong time. He had a halfhearted faith that was not complete until Jesus hung on the cross. This story tells us a lot about Peter and what type of person he was in the firefight before he became the rock that the church was built on. He was all in, then when he realized what was happening; he was all out.
The disciples thought Jesus was a ghost. They were not only scared about what was going on around them; they were scared of Him. What I find interesting is that Jesus suggested they go on ahead of Him and cross to the other side fully knowing that there was going to be a storm. God will allow circumstances to happen around us knowing that our character will be built through what I would call the storm route. The storm route is that patch of rough sea that we have to overcome; life in general. Jesus will be there with us in the midst of the storm, but we have to trust Him to see us through to calm seas. When Jesus says to take courage that is exactly what we should do as a storm creeps up on us.
The next thing that happens is Peter walks to Jesus on the water. His leap of faith brought him close to Jesus, but he lost his focus, saw his circumstances, and started to fall. It’s only human to feel like we cannot take another second of the hurt or pain we may be going through within the storm route. This story here is a prophesy of what Peter would do later. Sometimes we need a little help up and Jesus reaching down to save Peter is exactly what He will do to help us overcome and become an overcomer. Look at this verse:
Then Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s slave. But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath. Shall I not drink from the cup of suffering the Father has given me?” John 18:10-11
Peter’s future leap of faith and Jesus follows with a hand up. Heals the guy who lost his ear. Peter runs away because he becomes aware of his circumstances, he sees the wind on the water and the swords in the hands of soldiers. With the fear still in his heart from seeing where he was, he does the exact thing Jesus told him he would do, he denies Jesus three times. Boldness turns to fear.
The hand up not only helps us through our time of need, but restores us. Peter regretted that he stepped out of the boat and lost his focus. He then repeated the same thing and regretted his denial of Jesus. Regret can be such a powerful thing and something that keeps us stagnant in our walk. Bad things happen in life, but when Jesus gives us a hand up in the storm route, we are restored to where we need to be. Peter climbed back into the boat and was exposed to the unconditional love Jesus could only provide when Jesus restored him three times.
Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. We have the power within us to make the correct choices that can change the course of the bad thing we are going through. Peter was not going to be fooled a third time and changed his whole character from the half-hearted leap of faith to a full and complete leap. His faith kept his forward movement happening and he completed his leap on solid ground. He became the rock our church was built on. Yes, he had shame, he had regret, but Jesus restored him to where he needed to learn that he had the power within him, Holy Spirit power, to make the tough choices he would have to make. We will always go from one storm route to another, our attitude and position of faith can keep us from sinking and falling.
Are the things you are going through building character in you, or are they building fear?
[David Howard], [David’s Body Temple], 2011-2015.