Summary: This is the third in a four part series based on Matthew 14:22-32
INTRODUCTION: Charles Swindoll, in his book "Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back," tells the story of a farmer who wanted to impress his hunting buddies. So, he bought the smartest, most expensive hunting dog he could find and he trained this dog to do things no other dog on earth could do---impossible things that would surely amaze anyone. Then he invited his buddies to go duck hunting with him. After a while a group of ducks flew over and the hunters were able to make a few hits. Several ducks fell in the water and the proud owner shouted to his magnificent dog, "Go get ‘em!" The dog leapt out of the boat, walked on the water, picked up a bird and returned to the boat. As soon as he dropped the duck in the boat he trotted off across the water again and grabbed another duck and brought it back to the boat. The owner beamed with pride as his wonderful dog walked across the water and retrieved each of the birds one by one. Unable to resist the opportunity to brag a little he asked his buddies, "Do you notice anything unusual about my dog?" One of them rubbed his chin and said, "Yes. Come to think of it, I do! That silly dog doesn’t know how to swim does he??" Many people give Peter the same reaction. Instead of recognizing that he was the only disciple to have the faith to even step out of the boat, he is criticized for his lack of faith when he sank in the waves. But in reality, he was the only one with enough faith to go to Christ. The other disciples sat in the boat and they almost always get overlooked in this story. But they were there, still in the boat. The question is "Why?" Why did they stay? Two ideas come to mind.
I. THEY WERE AFRAID TO TAKE THE RISK
A. Here we have these eleven (11) men in their boat bring tossed about in a storm. Three fishermen, one tax collector, one who would betray Jesus and 6 others who were, as far as we know, just common guys and they were struggling to stay afloat.
1. They had all seen Jesus walking on the water, and it had frightened them. They had all heard Peter call out, "Lord, if that is you command me to join you." They had all heard the Lord’s reply and had all watched Peter do the unthinkable – get out of the boat and walk on water.
2. But they just sat there. They didn’t budge. I have no doubts that they too could have stepped out onto the waves and walked on the sea. But they didn’t. They stayed in the boat, and I can’t help but see this as a lack of faith.
3. We know they were afraid, afraid of the storm, afraid of the ghost they thought they saw. But I submit to you that their fear went much deeper. They were afraid to take the risk, the risk of failure – no one wants to look weak or incapable.
4. They might sink, they might perish, or they might not measure up. No one wants to look foolish, so they stayed in the boat and kept rowing. The ego is a terrible thing when it gets in the way of walking with the Master.
B. Human life is full of risks. Everyone must take one sooner or later in their life. The sad part is that we tend to think we are safer playing the stock market, that heeding the Master’s will. Or that we are safer driving 70 miles an hour without wearing a seatbelt than taking one step on faith.