Whenever I hear the account of Jesus walking on water, and then Peter getting in on it too, I tend to wander in my thoughts, along the lines of ‘How did that look then?’
Come with me for a few minutes, let’s take a look.
‘Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”’
Matthew 14:22-33 NIV
First of all, why on earth did Peter ask Jesus to tell him to come to Him? He had no previous example to encourage him to expect this to be okay, yet he asked Jesus this most bizarre of questions.
Then he did the impossible. For a while.
(Just an aside, do we believe we need precedents to give us confidence to pray? Do we really imagine God has to have previously heard a particular request for Him to answer us? Surely not.)
My thinking doesn’t end there though. Even in Peter’s failure, a miracle is ongoing.
Peter began to sink, whoever begins to sink?
Try standing on water, you are plain sunk. Done. No beginning to it.
There is hidden mercy in this story, only a little thing I know, yet it shows the unnecessary kindness of Jesus.
He didn’t let Peter sink like a hefty fisherman, he let him start to sink slowly.
Time enough for Jesus to take his hand and return to the boat with him.
We kind of miss this bit don’t we. Even in Peter’s failure, his rising panic and draining faith, his loving Lord is making the water thick.
I wonder how many times Peter recalled the moment of Jesus’ secret mercy to him.
It seems to me He loves to share secrets with His friends, it communicates to us deep within when we know that God has done something individual and personally special for us. Something which to many would seem unnecessary, and ultimately it is, but He knows it demonstrates a level of particular love which gets under our guard and sinks into our heart.
How amazing is He, how kind?
Kind enough to pursue you down through all of your years. Catching your eye with this or that, making you curious. Drawing you in little by little, until you get to a place of knowing this is for real, He does genuinely love you in ways far beyond anything you might believe He has to as a Saviour, or as a Lord, but in addition to those, He loves as your best Friend, and as the perfect Dad, and as a Brother who says nothing is too much. Nothing.
From the extremes of the cross and the grave, to the detail of water being too thin.
That’s how kind He is. That’s how much He loves you.