Get Out of the Boat!

“And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come…” (Matt. 14: 26-29a, KJV).

I happen to think that one of the biggest shortcomings of most Christians is a belief in God that does not translate into unwavering trust. While some of us profess a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and can perhaps quote any text from Genesis to Revelation, there seems an inherent reluctance to embrace the Sovereignty of God in our day-to-day lives. It is my belief that God desires to do for us far more than we can ask or imagine, and if we could only grasp the realization of Mark 9:23, that all things are possible to them that believe, we would see a move of God in our individual lives that would leave no doubt about the awesomeness of our God, and His desire to bless us in all areas.

I recall as a child growing up in an era when prayer warriors challenged the Word of God. In fact, growing up without a lot of the basic essentials, I honed my prayer-life on reminding God that “Your word declares…”, or “You said …”, as in reality I had nowhere else to go, no one else to turn to, nothing else to stand on but the infallible word of God. If God said it, in my mind it would come to pass if I could exercise the faith to step outside of what my circumstances was saying, and trust fully in the fact that His Word would not return to Him void, but would accomplish that which He please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto He sent it (Isaiah 55:11). It is the lack of confidence to step outside of our circumstances, our individual self-constructed comfort zones, which has prevented many of God’s people from seeing demonstrations of His Sovereignty in our day-to-day lives.

In our reference text, we run into that wonderful character and my favorite disciple, Peter. This guy had a healthy dose of skepticism and was never afraid to say what was on his mind, yet amidst that skepticism was a certain naivety, innocence if you will, in the Sovereignty of Christ. It was this same Peter who in a moment of divine revelation would speak for the rest of the disciples when he declared, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”, Matt. 16:16, but in our text we see a man who had not yet reached that level of spiritual maturity. According to Matt 14, Jesus was sad about the death of John the Baptist and in His moment of grief, wanted to spend some time away from the crowd. He had already stopped to heal the sick, and later had fed a crowd over 5000, but now He wanted to be alone and instructed his disciples to get into a ship and go before Him to the other side of the lake while He sent the crowd away (v.22). Having done that, He went into the mountain to pray and was there until well into the evening. While Jesus was spending time with the Father, the disciples were making their way across the sea when in the midst of it they experienced a great storm. Amidst the great concern for their safety, and perhaps fearing they were all going to die, they saw what they thought was a spirit and cried out in fear. This was no ordinary spirit; this was Jesus. He tried to reassure them they had nothing to fear. Then we see Peter, not content with just hearing a voice but proceeded to challenge that voice: “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water”, to which he heard the same voice reply, “Come”.

We are not told how far away Jesus was from the boat. Space does not permit me to go into the many wonderful lessons contained in this encounter, but what we know is that while the rest of the disciples sat quivering in fear in the boat, Peter recognized that the safest place to be was where Jesus was. We are not told of Peter asking the others what they thought. He did not stop to find out if anyone else wanted to come along, but according to v29 he simply “come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.” Most of us are aware that this disciple, when he looked around and saw what was going on around him, began to sink and had to be rescued by Jesus. However for the purpose of this article, we want to look at his willingness to step out of the boat for no other reason than the fact that His Master told him to “Come”.

In a lot of ways, the storm the disciples experienced is like the “storms” most of us have experienced, or are experiencing, in our lives. We are in the midst of circumstances that threatens to overwhelm us and despite our knowledge of the Savior, we are afraid. It is instructive to note that while Jesus told them all to not be afraid, His invitation to “Come” was issued to the only one that had asked Him. The rest were content to sit in the boat and wait for Him to get there. In v. 32 we read that the wind did cease once Jesus and Peter got into the boat, but what they missed out on was the opportunity to experience divine awesomeness in a way that would have demonstrated to them their authority over any circumstance, as long as they held their faith in Christ. A lot of Christians are like those disciples, not willing to step out in faith, but waiting in their boats for Jesus to come in and take over.

By stepping out of the boat, Peter walked on water. He had authority over the same elements that caused others to be afraid. Once he started paying attention to those things, his faith lessened and he started to sink. I love the fact that Jesus did not rebuke him for looking around, but rather for his lack of faith (Matt14:31). In other words, He was saying it is fine to look around at the storm, but you need to walk in faith and not doubt, and anything is possible. What excites me is that we are not told that Jesus carried Peter back to the boat. I believe that once Peter got himself righted, with the storm still raging, he and Jesus walked back together and Peter realized that by faith he could take authority over the storm.

The safest place to be is where Jesus is, and for those who are still in the boat, shaking in fear, wet and afraid, He invites you to step out of the boat and come towards Him. It is very clear that He is not in the boat at this point, but by faith you can put those things under your feet that are provoking fear, and robbing you of the peace of mind and heart that comes with knowing and trusting Jesus as Lord. Peter did not fail when he began to sink but rather he learnt what not to do in the midst of a storm. Do not allow your knowledge of what is going on around you to retard your faith in God. I challenge you today to get out of the boat and experience the awesomeness of God’s power in your life, and over the circumstances that threatens to destroy you. Can’t you hear Him saying, “Come”? ٱ