As the disciples floundered in the dark in a boat tossed and battered by the waves, the narrative tells us, “And in the fourth watch of the night (3:00–6:00 a.m.), Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. 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 He spoke to them, saying, ‘Take courage, it is I! Do not be afraid!'” (Matthew 14:25–26, AMP). Two points are worth remembering: 1) they all saw Him, and 2) when He spoke, they all heard Him.
The narrative continues: “Peter replied to Him, ‘Lord, if it is [really] 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 toward Jesus” (vv. 28–29). While they all heard the invitation, and despite their precarious position in the boat, only Peter obeyed the voice by stepping out into the dark. The remaining disciples stayed because, while they had walked and talked with Jesus and had seen Him perform miracles, they lacked the faith to take Him at His word. In this incident, we see the gulf-wide difference between talking about faith and stepping out in faith. Undoubtedly, they were waiting for Jesus to get to the boat and possibly do something about the storm, but the thought of stepping out of a place where they felt a minimal amount of safety into a place where they perceived there was no safety was too much for them. Even though Jesus had said, “Come!”
In some ways, we can relate to their fears. While Peter stepped out of the boat without any conversation with any of his fellow disciples, the narrative tells us, “But when he saw [the effects of] the wind, he was frightened, and he began to sink, and he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!'” (v. 30). I often wonder what went through the minds of the other disciples as they watched Peter. Maybe a quiet affirmation that they were the smart ones and the safest place to be was in the boat. But Peter did not drown, as Jesus caught him and asked him why he doubted. When they got into the boat, the wind stopped, and the others worshipped Jesus with awe-inspired reverence, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God!” (vv. 31-33).
The thing is, Jesus was the Son of God when He told them to “Come!” The fact that He walked on water in the storm should have left no doubts in their minds. But given the circumstances in which they found themselves, they doubted. Matthew did not tell us that Jesus carried Peter back to the boat. Could it be that he did walk on water? By playing it safe, the disciples missed out on this experience. Yes, the wind ceased when Jesus got into the boat, but that was not due to any faith on their part.
Are you afraid of stepping out into the dark? How safe are you playing it? Many dreams have not materialized because of fear: ministries and businesses that have not started, steps that have not been taken, goals not reached, and so many more. We heard the voice say, “Come!” but we are crippled by the realities of what is happening around us. The thing that caused fear in the disciples was the very thing that Jesus had under His feet. The same thing applies to you and me. Stepping out into the dark can be scary. Will you be like Peter and step out in faith, or will you be like one of the other disciples who ignored the voice of Him who is master over everything?