Summary: Jesus and Peter walking on the water is a familiar story - is there something fresh we can get from something we know so well? I believe there is.
Dwight Lyman Moody lived toward the end of the 19th century. He was an American evangelist and publisher who founded the Moody Church, Northfield School and Mount Hermon School in Massachusetts (now the Northfield Mount Hermon School), the Moody Bible Institute and Moody Publishers, all of which are still in operation today. He was a major player in the early development of the YMCA, and he preached to hundreds of thousands of people on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. He also gave us the four-colored version of what we know as “The Wordless Book” today.
Henry Varley, a very intimate friend of Dwight L. Moody in the earlier days of his work, loved to tell how he once said to him: “It remains to be seen what God will do with a man who gives himself up wholly to Him.” When Mr. Varley said that, Mr. Moody said to himself, “Well, I will be that man.” When we look at the life and ministry of Mr. Moody there is no doubt about what God will do with a man (or a woman) who gives himself (or herself) wholly to Him.
Mr. Moody once said to his friend and co-laborer R.A. Torrey, “If I believed God wanted me to jump out of that window, I would do so.” Anyone who knew him believed that was an absolutely true statement.
That kind of a walk of faith is rare, but it really shouldn’t be. If a person really invests the time and energy to get to know Jesus and become familiar with His voice, walking with Him – no matter where it is or what the conditions – will be the most natural thing in the world.
Today, we are going to look at Peter, a man who knew and listened to the voice of Jesus Christ and took a little walk with Him on a dark and stormy sea.
Whenever we come across the keenly familiar, it is always a great challenge to try and look at it in a fresh way.
The passage we have before us today is just such a story, one that I have taught much and referred to often. We all know this story and are acquainted with most of the details. So, the question is, how can we get a fresh look at something so well-known and familiar to us?
First, we need to make note of what we know we know. We know a lot, actually:
• We know that Jesus had performed the miracle of feeding five thousand men, plus women and children, from five barley loaves and two fish only a few hours before this;
• We know that Jesus has now been alone on the mountain praying for several hours;
• We know that Jesus has sent His disciples on ahead of Him in a boat;
• We know that a major storm arises when the disciples are a very long way away from shore;
• We know that it is in the wee hours of the night;
• We know that Jesus comes to the disciples, walking on the water;
• We know that the disciples are frightened and think that they are seeing a spirit;
• We know that Jesus tells the disciples not to be afraid because it is Him, not a spirit;
• We know that Peter says, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water;”
• We know that Jesus does so;
• We know that Peter gets out of the boat and steps out onto the storm-tossed sea;
• We know that the other disciples stay in the boat, still trying to keep it afloat;
• We know that Peter starts walking toward Jesus on the massive waves of the sea;
• We know that Peter gets his eyes off of Jesus and onto the storm and that it frightens him;
• We know that this causes him to begin to sink;
• We know that Peter cries out, “Lord, save me!”
• We know that Jesus reaches out His hand and rescues Peter;
• We know that Jesus chastises Peter by saying, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
• We know that Jesus walked back to the boat with Peter;
• We know that the wind stopped and the waves calmed as soon as they got into the boat;
• We know that all of the disciples worshiped Jesus and said, “You are certainly God’s Son!”
We could discuss any or all of these things at length and be here until the wee hours of the night ourselves. What I would like to talk about today is the four things that came to mind while I was making this list from the Scripture text. Of the four things that I would like to talk about today, three are observations and one is a question.