Summary: The interaction between Peter and Jesus when Jesus comes to the dicsiples walking on the water and Peter gets out of the boat.
Hillsborough Reformed Church at Millstone
August 7, 2005
There are lots of orders being given in this passage – people telling each other what to do. Generally speaking, we do not like people telling us what to do. It is very rude barking orders.
Do you remember transactional analysis from years ago? TA taught that people communicated in different ways. A bad way for adults to communicate was parent to child. If I talk to you, and treat you like a child in relationship to me, our relationship will soon sour. We were taught to talk to one another as adult to adult.
In these few short verses of the story of the storm on the Sea of Galilee and Jesus walking on the water, orders are being given. Some of the orders come from Jesus, whom you might expect; after all, he is “the Lord.” But one character has the audacity to give orders to Jesus – Peter – and amazingly, Jesus does what he’s told.
And we should take this as a warning. Be real careful what you ask Jesus!
Peter told Jesus to command him to walk to him on the water. Jesus did what Peter told him to do.
What has been the content of your prayers, lately? What are you asking for from Jesus?
The peace that passes understanding? Good choice. Pretty safe too, I’d imagine.
How about joy? That too is a good choice, perhaps.
Are you asking him for success? Does Jesus hear a long boring string of selfish requests from us?
Have you asked Jesus to make you a better Christian? If so, let me warn you, be careful what you ask for! The Bible says that whatever we ask in Jesus’ name will be given us. In asking him to make us better disciples, we might not like so much where he takes us in answer to that prayer!
We make wild promises at different times in our lives. For example, when we make our marriage vows on our wedding day, we make some promises we might want to think about a little….”for better, for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health.” Whoa! Are you sure about that? While when your love is new, you might believe you would be happy living with him in tent if that’s how it has to be, that tent starts getting cramped after a few months! These are extravagant wild promises. In our culture, when things get tough, the vows are laid aside – as if to say, “I didn’t mean I’d live with this!” In fact, our society treats these vows as if to say, “I will stay with you as long as our marriage meets my needs and fulfills my desires.
We make wild promises at baptism – in essence we relinquish control of our son or daughter. We literally hand the child over to Jesus, saying “My son is no longer mine, but belongs to you to use as you see fit.” In fact, baptism means drowning – death. Baptism means rebirth, a new creation emerges, owned by and subject to God. I have often wondered if we’d have fewer baptisms in the church if people stopped seeing it as an insurance policy for heaven and recognized it for what it is; the embarking on the very dangerous journey of walking with Jesus. His walk ends at the cross, you know.
When you are confirmed or join the church as an adult – you make wild promises – to love and obey the Lord. To follow Jesus no matter what, no matter where.
As the boat was battered by the storm that day, Peter ordered Jesus to do two things. The first thing Peter ordered Jesus to do was to command him to get out of the boat and walk across the water to Jesus – who was walking on the water. Peter should have had a consultant or advisor with him. Or he should have looked around him at the other disciples. Were they asking to walk on the water? No! An advisor could have said to Peter, “What are you thinking?” Maybe Jesus has a low body density….maybe he has big webbed feet….maybe he knows where the rocks are. What do you know about walking on water, Peter?” But Peter says command me to come, and Jesus commands him and he does and…….well, what would you expect? Have you ever tried walking on water?
Peter began sinking.
Peter gave Jesus an order, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
I have no problem believing Jesus walked on the water. It is a little hard to believe Peter did, at least a little, but that’s what we are told in the story, so it must be true. Peter is heading towards Jesus, in the stormy sea. But then he makes a crucial mistake. For these first steps on the surface of the water, Peter’s attention is fixed on Jesus. But then we are told that he is distracted by the roiling water. As a life long fisherman, Peter knows how dangerous storms at sea can be, and he gulps and is terrified and starts sinking.