Summary: Why do we have so little faith and so much doubt?
Intro, Purpose & Plan
Who do we look to for help when we seem to be all alone and in total darkness as life tosses us about? Let’s understand that the One who loves us will come to our rescue. Let’s look at the story of a small boat in a stormy sea in Matthew 14:22-33.
Matthew 14:22-23 Go before Him
In Matthew 14:22-23 Jesus told His disciples to “go before Him to the other side… He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray.” Sometimes it’s as if He has also sent us forth alone. As God, Jesus is everywhere at all times, but sometimes it seems like He has sent us on ahead for some reason. Sometimes it’s because Jesus has a special miracle planned for us. The crowd wanted to make Jesus an earthly king. When seduced by worldly promotion that is not in God’s plan, find a solitary place to pray. Ask heaven to keep us from the egotism that leads us away from His will.
Matthew 14:24 Tossed by the Waves
In Matthew 14:24 we read that “the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves.” The disciples were where Jesus had sent them but they seemed in trouble. Shallow lakes are known for dangerous storm waves. Sometimes when we believe with our whole hearts that we are where Jesus wants us, things seem to go wrong. We doubt our calling. Sometimes Jesus sends us to sea even though He knows a storm is coming. We face winds of false doctrine, waves of temptation, and storms of mistreatment. Jesus is not trying to hurt us, but teach us to walk by faith and not by sight.
Matthew 14:25 Walking on the Sea
In Matthew 14:25 we read, “Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.” The fourth watch was the last night watch, from about 3am to sunrise. Sometimes in Christian life, Jesus allows us to go through most of the night before He comes to us. And when He does, He may come in the form of a miracle, a supernatural event that is beyond any natural explanation, like walking on water. God often chooses to intervene just before we lose hope, so as to not overly try us. In Job 9:8 we read, “He... treads on the waves of the sea.”
Matthew 14:26 An Apparition
In Matthew 14:26 we read that, “when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out for fear.” When God appeared on the mountain to ancient Israel they were afraid, and when Jesus walked on water, the disciples were afraid at first. Sometimes we may be afraid to invite God into our situations, yet we need to remember that like with Israel and the disciples, God shows up in such a manner because we are highly favored. As they thought that Jesus was an apparition, we too can think that Jesus is somebody else. But, He comes to bless.
Matthew 14:27 Be of Good Cheer
In Matthew 14:27 after the disciples’ initial fear seeing Jesus walking on water we read, “But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” In the midst of storm wind and waves, Jesus spoke. He must have been close to them. The boat is an ancient Christian symbol of disciples tossed to and fro with trials of faith, temptations and mistreatment. Yet, Jesus calms the storms and provides safety. In church architecture, the center is the nave, meaning ship. Noah was brought to safety (1 Peter 3:20-21), Jesus comes to our boat and carries us through the storms to eternity.
Matthew 14:28-29 Peter walked on Water
In Matthew 14:28-29 we read that Peter asked Jesus to let him walk on water too, “So He said, ‘Come.’ And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.” Some are bold like Peter and jump right in. There is no criticism of that personality here. There is an example of what someone can accomplish with God’s help in their initial rush of faith and desire to be with Jesus. Studies have shown that of all those who rush forward at modern forms of evangelistic rallies, only about 15% join a church and stay. Spontaneity is good. Perseverance is better.
Matthew 14:30 Lord Save Me
After Peter’s impetuosity and Jesus’ granting his request to walk on water, he quickly began to doubt. We read in Matthew 14:30 “But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’” There is often a conflict between sight and faith. Faith is the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). Moments like this come to all of us. We begin to sink in life’s stormy waters and realize that we have more zeal than faith. We have had our eyes on our tempestuous circumstances and not on Christ. Then we cry out, Lord, save me.