By: Casey Bonilla
“Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 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.”
You’ve probably heard this story before, if not directly from Scripture then at least some reference to “walking on water”. There is so much wisdom to extract from the events of this night; including what we can learn from Peter’s faith, Peter’s doubt, and the response of Jesus. Remember as you read these verses once more that this is not a parable or a dream, that this is Jesus, in the flesh, literally walking upon the waves of the Sea of Galilee – demonstrating his full control over the earth and its elements.
If Peter, looking directly at Jesus, experiencing firsthand the impossible made possible through Christ, doubted – how much harder is it today? If the disciples, just having witnessed the feeding of the five thousand, still questioned how the four thousand would be fed (Matthew 15:33) – how are we not to doubt, even when we’ve experienced the goodness of God in our lives?
In faith, following the command, Peter was able to walk out on the water to Jesus. (Talk about a literal step of faith.) This displays obedience, even in the midst of uncertainty and fear. But eventually, Peter began to sink. Each step up until this moment required active, in the moment faith, and focus on Christ ahead. When did Peter begin to sink? When he took his focus off of Jesus, and noticed the wind. The wind had been there the entire time, but it was his attention to it that caused him to stumble. Overcoming doubt requires not just the first leap of faith, but continual pursuit of truth, so that our faith might increase.
If you’re experiencing doubt today in your walk with Christ, be encouraged by what Jesus does when Peter begins to sink. He hears Peter’s cry and immediately reaches out for him. Jesus is within arm’s reach for you today. Just like Peter’s doubt didn’t change the position of Jesus, our doubt does not stop God from being God. We can have faith in Him – that he is truth, he is life, and he does not change.
Active faith, continuing faith, requires focus. Only with eyes on Christ and undistracted by the surrounding storm was Peter able to walk out. The same applies to us today. Our faith is cemented in who God is, revealed in the actions of Christ; but in order to have faith in the unchanging character of God, we need to know that truth. Focusing our eyes on Christ means spending time in Scripture, learning His word and heart, intentionally turning away from the constant distractions surrounding us. It is the lies of the world and the uncertainty of storms that can begin to stir doubt. But Jesus is there, ready to take hold of you, right in the middle of it all.
Questions to Consider:
- What causes you to doubt? What in your life acts as the wind surrounding you, pulling your focus off of Christ?
- 1 John 4:18 reads, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” Peter and the disciples were afraid of their circumstance, but reassured by Jesus. Only the love of God is perfect; have you let this truth sink into your heart? How does Christ display this perfect love?
- James 1:6 says, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” Given that all of us face doubt at some point in time, this can be a challenging verse. The one who doubts is like a wave, driven and tossed by the wind – no set direction, no destination, no permanence. If doubt is unsettled like a wave, faith is in a firm and secure foundation. What does your foundation need to be built upon?
- Read Luke 5:20, Luke 7:50, Luke 8:48, Luke 17:19, and Luke 18:42. What does this consistency reveal to you about Jesus, about the heart of God?
- Read Hebrews 11. The Bible contains great examples of faith that show how man’s faithfulness can be used to display His glory. God keeps all of his promises. Is there anything you have been doubting that can be combated with the Truth today?
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”
Have faith in our faithful God.