22 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. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone. 24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” 27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” 28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” 29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. 31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” 32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.
One of my favorite parts of this story is what happens next. While Peter took his eyes off Jesus and started to sink, he still knew who to call out to, verse 30 records his cry: “Lord, save me!” At least he had the good sense to call for help when he needed it, sadly some of us wait way too long to ask for God’s help. For some, it is pride that keeps us locked up in the prison of self-sufficiency, where we waste our lives on trying instead of investing them in trusting. Peter was not disqualified from a life of faithfulness just because he lost focus. The same is true for you; just because you have allowed your fears to paralyze you doesn’t me that you can’t cry out to Christ. Like Peter, you don’t have to be defined by your failure you can be defined by the Fathers forgiveness. Peter knew that no matter what he could always cry out to Christ, and it’s here that we see Jesus response to our crisis:
- He rescues
Verse 31 says: “Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him.” Today some of you are drowning and you need to cry out to Jesus, only He has the power to reach out and rescue you. Who are you crying out to, are you going to lean on the Lord or drown in your independence? Sadly today many Christians spend more time turning to Facebook than they do God the Father. But technology isn’t going to save you, trusting in the truth is. Instead of posting your problems why don’t you try praying about them. Instead of turning to social media start talking to the Savior. Because Peter turned to Jesus he experienced not only the joy of walking on the waves by faith but also the joy of being lifted up out of his failure. When Peter couldn’t walk to Jesus, Jesus came to him.
- He rebukes
Even though Jesus rescued Peter, He turned it into a teachable moment, in the last part of verse 31 He asks a revealing question: “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” Jesus is continuously asking that question of His followers today. Why did you doubt? Why don’t you trust me to do what I said I would do? Are you in need of His rebuke today, is there an area in your life where you are struggling to trust Jesus and therefore not following by faith? While we don’t like being rebuked by Jesus we need to realize that He cares too much about us not to correct us. Many Christians make the mistake of assuming that because it doesn’t feel good it can’t be from the Father. So we run from His rebuke because we care more about God coddling our feelings than we do about Him cultivating our faith. But God is not in the business of growing your feelings, He wants to grow your faith. So stop trying to force Jesus into a box based on your feelings and start following Him based on faith. Receive His rebuke, repent and respond rightly so that you stop being foolish and start learning to follow by faith. While His rebuke may not feel very loving faith reminds us that the Lord loves us enough to rebuke us so that we are not left where we are, stuck repeating the same foolish mistakes over and over.
- He restores
Jesus didn’t just rescue Peter so He could rebuke Peter, His ultimate plan was to restore. But often before we can be restored we have to be rebuked. Otherwise, we will never learn from our mistakes and it won’t be long before we return to the same issue that led to our drowning and crying out to Jesus. Jesus doesn’t just rescue us so that we can return to a life of desperation. His plan is to restore us and put us back onto His path. Christ’s plan for Peter was for him to be the rock on which Jesus would build His church. In order for that to become a reality, Peter had to learn to follow by faith and stop focusing on his fears. The truth is that because Peter was in a position to fail, he was also in a position to grow. I’m confident that he grew greatly in his faith as a result of this experience. It reminds me of the truth of 2 Timothy 2:13: “If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.” God wants to grow you. Unfortunately, many of us just want a God who will rescue but not rebuke us. But you can’t go from rescue to restore without being rebuked. Jesus loves you too much to let you run right back to rescue. So where are you at today, are you drowning in despair, then cry out for Christ to rescue you. If Christ is correcting you then don’t run from rebuke, receive it. If you are in the restore stage then respond rightly by learning to follow His plan, not yours.