Our time is a time of uncertainty and distraction. Much of what was the bedrock of our existence and of our routines has begun to show alarming fractures, and we are sensing that our boat is being battered by the waves and that the wind is contrary (the disciples on the sea of Galilee in Matthew 14:24). There are storms swirling all around us – political storms, medical storms, social storms, relational storms, moral storms – and it is increasingly difficult not to be distracted by the winds and be swept up in fear.
PETER AND THE DISCIPLES IN THE STORM
Jesus’ disciples faced a similar situation one night on the Sea of Galilee, not figuratively, but literally (Matthew 14:22-33). Jesus had stayed behind on the shore while they tried to row to the other side of the lake. Their boat was being battered by the waves, for the wind was contrary (14:24). Jesus came to them, walking on the sea, and reassures them in the midst of their plight, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid (14:27).” Then (28) Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” (29) And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.
But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” – Matthew 14:30
(31) Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
As we consider how Peter responded to his storm, we will learn several things about how to respond to our own storms.
SEEING THE WIND, NOT THE LORD
Peter began to sink because he was seeing the wind, not the Lord Jesus. This is the major lesson we can learn from this. Jesus is the Lord of all nature and thus the Lord of all storms and all winds. He is the one who speaks to the winds and the sea and they obey Him (Matthew 8:27). He is the one who made the sea and the dry land (Psalm 95:5). Jesus is also the Lord of glory, the King of kings, the Son of God. This Jesus had commanded Peter to come to Him (14:29). Yet, with the Lord of glory beckoning him to come to Him, Peter was distracted by the winds. The incarnate Son of God was a short distance away, and Peter took his eyes off Jesus and put them on the wind.
Let us consider this: When we take our eyes off Jesus and are distracted by the prevailing winds, even the invisible becomes dangerous. But when we fix our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2), our field of vision is taken up by Him who is most powerful and most lovely. When Jesus consumes our gaze, we seem to have supernatural power to attempt the impossible and are reminded that we can do all things through Him who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).
When Peter was concentrated on Jesus, he had supernatural power to walk on water, but when he was distracted by the prevailing storm and was “seeing the wind,” he sank like an ordinary man. Just so, a faithful walk with Jesus calls for us to be concentrated on Him. We are not involved in a pastime or a hobby with which we dabble from time to time. No! We are involved in a minute-by-minute faith-walk with the King of kings that involves our whole being. So, we press forward with vigor and we ignore the winds of distraction, no matter how hard they blow. Jesus is worthy of being the one who fills our entire gaze and captures all our attention.
WHEN PETER FAILED
Peter is one of only two human beings who has ever walked on water. This is a remarkable achievement. When the fishermen got together around the Sea of Galilee, Peter could stop the boasting by saying, “Well, I guess that’s impressive, but I walked on water.” End of conversation.
But we also notice from the story that Peter failed. Peter’s zeal to walk to Jesus on the water was drowned by his fascination with the invisible winds. Peter got distracted, and “seeing the wind, he became frightened and began to sink (14:30).” Has that ever happened to you? I mean, have you ever failed, despite your best intentions? How does Jesus respond to Peter’s failure? DON’T MISS THIS. When Peter is sinking and cries out, “Lord, save me!” . . .
“IMMEDIATELY Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him.”
Peter exercised incredible faith and boldly attempted something that should have been impossible. Ultimately, his attempt failed. What do we hear from Jesus? There is no rebuke, no ridicule, no chagrin. Instead, the same hand that in the Creation formed the sea and the dry land is immediately stretched out to take a firm hold of His beloved disciple. Peter cries out for the Lord to save him, and immediately the Lord Jesus does exactly that. Jesus upholds His own with His righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10). When we pass through the waters, Jesus is with us (Isaiah 43:2). When we fail, as we inevitably will, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1).
There are basically three takeaways from this study, three applications that have emerged.
- Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) and don’t spend time “seeing the wind”
- As an act of your will, IGNORE THE WIND. That is, IGNORE THE DISTRACTIONS.
- Attempt bold things for the glory of God, because Jesus is our Advocate (1 John 2:1).
SDG rmb 1/7/2021