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.
It’s here as we look again at Matthew 14:22-33, that we see Peter’s response to Jesus Faithfulness. Where does Peter get the courage to climb out of the boat? Faith, in light of the Lords faithfulness, faith is the only right response. God calls us to follow by faith but so often our fears get in the way. That is why Jesus not only came but He also called out and told the disciples not to cower but to be courageous because the great I Am is here. Their courage did not come because of a change in circumstances, the storm was still raging, no their courageous came because Christ was in control of the storm. Today we want to base our courage not on Christ but on Him calming our circumstances. But courage doesn’t not come because of a change in circumstances it comes because Christ is in control of your circumstances. Instead of focusing on the junk that creates fear we need to focus on Jesus who cultivates faith. It’s here that Peter responds to the call of Christ and climbs out of the boat, leaving his man made worldly security to walk with the Savior. When it comes to living a life of faith it’s important to note that this is not only the second boat trip but also the second storm that the disciples have gone through as a result of obeying Jesus. In the first Jesus was with them in the boat while in the second He was interceding. Jesus cultivates our courage by stretching our faith in incremental steps. The first time he got into the boat with them, but the second time he sent them on ahead. Its one thing to trust Jesus when he is right there, but are you going to trust Him even when you can’t see Him? Sometimes Jesus uses the same boat to help us take baby steps in our faith as well as the bigger steps. As we look at Peter’s response of faith in light of Jesus Faithfulness it is sad to note that this part of the story, Peter walking on the water, has become the most familiar. Why, because most of us forget to first focus on the faithfulness of Jesus. As we focus on the faith of Peter we will see three faith-building things that cultivated Peters courage. First Peter:
1. Called out.
After being profoundly moved by this appearance of Jesus, Peter calls out in Matthew 14:28, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Peter asked Jesus to command him to come, this reveals 2 very important things, first:
A. Unless it is Jesus who is calling you stay where you are. Why did Peter ask Jesus to command him to come, why didn’t he just get out of the boat when Jesus had revealed himself to the disciples? Because it was Jesus who had commanded him to get into the boat 9 hours before and getting out without Christ’s clear command is called disobedience. Jesus had commanded Peter to get into the boat so only Jesus could call him out. Peter was asking for permission , He wanted to know God’s Will. Right now there are some of you that desperately want out of the boat you are in. There are Pastors reading this who are weary of the wind and the waves, your tired of being in the battered boat and so you are tempted to bail and walk away from the ministry or change churches. But before you get out of the boat you need to hear the clear call of Christ. As people we have a tendency to doubt in the dark what the Lord has revealed in the light. Just because it’s difficult don’t desert. Unless the Lord calls you stay put and stay the course. It’s easy to spiritualize your disobedience and claim to be following by faith but if Christ hasn’t called then whose voice are you really listening to, self not the Savior. That means your decision to climb out of the boat is based on your wants not His will and that’s not faith its foolishness. Look don’t get out of the boat Jesus has commanded you to get into unless He calls you out. If you want to know God’s Will ask, Christs call will be clear, just as it was for Peter. This leads us to the second important observation:
B. You better know the Lords voice – In John 10:1-5 Jesus said “I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! 2 But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. 5 They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.” How do you know if it’s the voice of the Shepherd, or self or even Satan? Does the call line up with God’s Word. Is it based on your wants or His word? Today many of us are following the voice of our feelings not the voice of the Shepherd, because we are more in tune to our feelings than we are to the Father. Peter knew the Lords voice, do you recognize the voice of Jesus and are you submitting to what He says by carrying out His call? So why did Peter want to be with Jesus? Because sheep look for their shepherd, they long for their shepherd because they love their shepherd. His desire to be with Jesus was based on relationship not rules. When you really start to understand the care of Christ you will want to cling to Christ. In order to grow in our faithfulness, this is the first place to start. What Peter was actually saying was I want to join Jesus where He is at. Joining Jesus in what He’s doing is an act of faith. Many of us want Jesus to come to us and climb into our boat, but sheep follow the shepherd not the other way around. As believers we should not be asking Jesus to get in the boat with us, but to join Him where He is at work. We’re not to just dream up something big and ask Jesus to bless it. Instead, we’re to see what Jesus is blessing and join Jesus by “fasten ourselves together” with Him. So many times I have heard preachers proclaim that this passage is about getting out of the boat and taking risks for Jesus. But this is not a story about risk taking it’s a story about relying and trusting. Rather than seeing it as a story about risk-taking, we need to recognize that it is primarily a story about obedience. That means we have to discern between an authentic call from God and what may simply be a foolish impulse on my part based on feelings. Courage is not me carelessly doing what I want but carefully following God’s Will. Ask God to let you know what it is that He wants you to do, His Will. Immerse yourself in God’s Word and He will reveal His Will. Jeremiah 29:13 says “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Are you calling out to Christ with your whole hearted or are you being half hearted?