Summary: The story of Peter walking on the water and beginning to sink provides excellent lessons for us to prevent us from beginning to sink in the trouble waters of life.
There are two sights in human life which fill the heart with profound sorrow. The first sight is that of a person who has sunk amid the troubled waters of life. It is the one whose once youthful face is no more because of rough, hard living. It is the person who had a good raising, who wore good name but now they have sank to the depths of moral degradation. The sight of a person who has sunk is one of the most pitiful scenes of this play we call human life. But to our human eyes there is another sight which is no less tragic than that first and that is the sight of a person who is beginning to sink. More often than not, beginnings are small and insignificant but the events they set in motion can produce monumental results. Such as the innocent drink that was the beginning of a life of addiction; or the telling of a little white lie that was the beginning of a life of deceitfulness. So much of what we know and understand about life comes from the study of beginnings. And in our text this morning we have an instance, not of a man who has sank into the depths, but of a man who is beginning to sink. Shall we look at Peter in that light for a little while this morning? I want to share with you five lessons we can learn from Peter and when he was beginning to sink.
#1. Our Best Qualities Could Lead To Our Ruin
The first lesson that comes to mine is that it was Peter’s personality that put him in this danger. He began to sink because he was Simon Peter. The other disciples were all safe. It never occurred to them to leave the vessel. They were men of common sense and they knew the difference between land and water. But Peter was reckless, headstrong and impulsive. Peter followed the dictates of his heart, and it made him do what no one else would do. But those very qualities that in the hand of Christ were to be used to build up the church sometimes brought him to the verge of ruin. It was only Peter who would begin to walk on water, and it was only Peter who would begin to sink.
This same lesson can be seen in other bible characters. Take Martha for instance. In Luk 10:38-42, Martha is displaying her best quality, hospitality, and yet she is beginning to sink in a sea of worry and troubles. Or take the Pharisees as another example. Their best qualities were that they were the strictest sect of the Jews in keeping the Law of Moses (Act 26:5) and that they were zealous in making proselytes (Mat 23:15). And yet their best qualities grew into hypocrisy and deep seeded traditionalism which was their ruin.
We too must understand that our best qualities could also so be our ruin and lead us to point where we begin to sink. For instance our best quality might be a good work ethic (Pro 22:29) but left unchecked we might begin to sink in a sea of self reliance (Luk 12:16-21). Or perhaps education/learning is our best quality (Pro 1:5-6, Pro 23:12) but with more learning comes more questions and we begin to sink into the waters of idle babblings (2 Tim 2:16; Tit 3:9). But let us go the opposite extreme of Peter. Perhaps our best quality is that we never let our emotions get the best of us; but a cold calculated behavior is rarely moved with compassion (Luk 10:33) or is rarely provoked (Act 17:16-34) and will begin to sink into the chilly waters of apathy. The remedy is to discipline our bodies (emotions, talents, desires, etc.) and bring it into subjection (1 Cor 9:24-27) so that we do not become disqualified by allowing our best qualities to sink us.
#2 We Can Sink In Familiar Waters
The next thing to arrest my attention about Peter beginning to sink is that he began to sink in very familiar waters. I suppose if you would have asked him if he knew the waters of the Sea of Galilee, he would have replied that he knew them, like the back of his hand. He knew every square inch of that lake and it was there, in these familiar waters that he began to sink. It is a very sad thing when a person begins to sink away from home. We almost understand those instances better. We understand why the Prodigal began to sink because he was in a far country (Luk 15:13). We can almost empathize with Peter when he was in the court of the High Priest and he denied Jesus because he was in an unfamiliar place, surrounded by strange, hostile people (Mat 26:69-75). But here on the Sea of Galilee it was different. Here on the waters of the lake he loved he was at home. Here this night he was among those who knew him best and who loved him and here he began to sink.