Sunday, October 21, 2012

Step Out and Up

Faith demands we step out of our comfort zone. Playing it safe, all but Simon Peter stayed in the boat. Peter walked on water. Step out & up – Michael Catt

There’s even more to Peter’s venture onto the water.  It’s exciting how it speaks volumes about God’s economy and where we are in it.  God’s expectations of us differ from our own.  Let’s examine Peter’s jaunt on the water.

Matthew 14:24-33 (KJV) But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.  And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.  And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.  But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.  And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.  And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.  But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.  And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?  And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.  Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
Jesus had dispersed a crowd that was following Him to learn more from Him.  Then He went up on a mountain to pray alone.  Prior to that, He sent the disciples ahead by boat to where they would go next.  And we find the boat in the midst of a stormy night, somewhere in the middle of the sea.
It’s at this point that Jesus walks to them on the water, in the midst of sizable waves.  Now, picture the crew Jesus assembled in the boat.  There probably weren’t any who were educated.  More likely, they were mostly fishermen, but some potters, sailmakers, and other manual laborers.  And their response to seeing Jesus walking toward them showed it.  Their religious superstition immediately assumed it was a spirit, not Jesus.  Superstitious fear took over their thinking.
We see Jesus calling out to them loudly enough that they could hear Him over what some scholars suggest was a huge, noisy storm.  Peter obviously recognizes that this might be Jesus and says that, if it is Jesus, tell him (Peter) to come to Him on the water.  I’m not sure about anyone else, but if I were in Peter’s place, I’m not sure I’d tell what might be a spirit to call me to walk to it on the water.  This was one of those times where Peter “gets it”, at least partially.

While Peter walks on the water, the rest took the safe option – staying in the boat.  I can picture Peter as he walked toward Jesus.  Amazed at what was happening, maybe a little giddy at what he was doing, chuckling to himself as he thought, “Well, look at me and what I’m doing!”.  Then he started realizing what he was doing, not focusing on Jesus, and began to take note of the winds, the waves, and the danger.  And Peter started to sink.

Fear and a lack of faith stopped Peter’s walk with Jesus.  Jesus immediately rescued him, just like He does with us.  And asked Peter why he doubted.  Which is where it gets interesting.  We can sense the underlying love in the original language, with Jesus maybe chuckling as He asks Peter why he doubted.  The storm stopped as soon as the two of them reached the boat.  And the other disciples realized Who had entered their boat with Peter.  But that moment of doubt and Jesus’ response are our focus, today.

Jesus knows that our faith is limited.  Look at Matthew 17:20, “And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. “.  He doesn’t expect us to have unlimited faith.  Peter’s problem wasn’t having only a little faith.  It was that Peter shifted his faith from what Jesus was doing for him to what he could do for himself.  And Peter recognized that his own strength made what he was doing impossible.

Luke 12:28 (KJV)  If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?

There are several incidents where Jesus says of people, “O ye of little faith”.  He’s not speaking of that mustard seed sized faith.  Jesus is rebuking a lack of faith.  Faith that’s squashed by external influences, killed by fear, pushed aside by our own thinking.  Jesus wants us to see that our unbelief prevents so many possibilities in our life.  In God’s economy, it only takes a little faith to create great things in our lives.  God helps us to accomplish those things we could never do alone.  What are you doing, today, to hang onto that mustard seed of faith?

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