I hate to admit it, but I’m going to cheat here. I’ve been blogging for almost eight years at my own site, and while I decided I wasn’t going to take my posts here and re-post them wholesale at my blog, I didn’t expect to be faced with the temptation to do the opposite.
However, shortly after I started my blog in 2004, I sat through a most excellent sermon on the Mark 6/Matthew 14 “walking on water” incident, and wrote about what I learned in some detail. When trying to decide what to write about today’s passage, I honestly felt that I couldn’t improve on that — and while most of you wouldn’t know it was a re-print, I would feel a bit guilty if I didn’t ‘fess up.
So here we have it. Re-reading these notes, I’m still learning from this today.
Mark 6:45-49 (NLT)
Immediately after this…
* Note that this happened right after Jesus fed the 5,000. The disciples had just seen Jesus do an amazing creative miracle. If it happened with us today, wouldn’t we want to take some time (a week or two, even) to bask in that, and marvel at it? But Jesus didn’t let them sit around and dwell on the past – He directed them to move on right away to the next thing He wanted to do.
… Jesus made his disciples get back into the boat and head out across the lake to Bethsaida, while he sent the people home. Afterward he went up into the hills by himself to pray. During the night, the disciples were in their boat out in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves.
* He told the disciples to get in the boat and cross the lake. Do you think He didn’t know there was going to be a storm and they weren’t going to make it across? Of course He did. Sometimes when we are obedient to God, we still have to face the storms – and sometimes He sets us up to hit those storms and maybe even not be able to accomplish what God asked us to do. It’s always for His purposes.
About three o’clock in the morning he came to them, walking on the water. He started to go past them…
* Did you catch the fact that Jesus was about to walk right by the disciples in their boat?
… but when they saw him walking on the water, they screamed in terror, thinking he was a ghost.
* Not only was Jesus about to walk by, He was walking so far away that the disciples couldn’t even tell it was Him. They thought He was a ghost. Sometimes when we’re in the middle of our storms, He’s there, but He doesn’t look like we expect Him to and He doesn’t show up where we expect Him to. We need to look harder.
* Notice that the disciples were terrified. Jesus set them up for this experience, and it made them fearful. Sometimes when we’re obedient to God, He will set us up for experiences that will bring our fears to the surface – so they can be dealt with and we can get past them.
Matthew 14:27 – 32 (NLT)
But Jesus spoke to them at once. “It’s all right,” he said. “I am here! Don’t be afraid.” Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you by walking on water.” “All right, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.
* Peter was the only one who got it. Everyone else was hoping Jesus would come get in the boat with them and stop the storm like He did before. What Jesus wanted was for all of them to get out of the boat in the middle of their storm and come to where He was. He wanted them to leave behind the “usual” way of doing things, and to come to the new thing He was doing and trust Him to make it work.
But when he looked around at the high waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Instantly Jesus reached out his hand and grabbed him. “You don’t have much faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” Or, in the NKJV: “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.
* A lot of people give Peter flak for lack of faith when he started to sink. If Jesus was far enough away for them not to recognize Him, but by the time Peter started to sink He was close enough to get to Peter IMMEDIATELY, doesn’t it seem likely that Peter got farther than we gave him credit for? If Jesus was 100 yards away from the boat, Peter walked something like 95 yards on the water. That’s pretty awesome. So when Jesus called him “you of little faith,” it wasn’t a harsh rebuke. Peter was the only one who had any faith to get out of the boat in the first place. It was more like “you’ve got a little faith, but we’re going to work on that and make it a big faith.”
* And later, when Jesus asked who men said that He was… did ya notice that Peter, the water-walker, was the only one who got it right? You are the Christ, the son of the living God.