Summary: The Sixth and Final Sermon of the fall 2009 series ‘Get Your Feet Wet!’
(Slide 1) A trapeze artist once supposedly boasted that he could take a person seated in a wheelbarrow across a tightrope many hundreds of feet up between two tall buildings. “Who thinks I can do it?” he asked a crowd who had gathered to watch.
One man raised his hand and said, “I think that you can do it!”
“Good!” the high wire man said in reply. (Slide 1a)“Get in!”
We have spent six of the past eight weeks examining Matthew 14:22-33 that is the story of Jesus walking on the water and Peter getting out of the boat to meet Him.
(Slide 2) There are two points that I want to make about this story and I made mention of one last week.
(Slide 2a) It is that we need to focus in the right direction, the direction of Jesus, when we are in the midst of the storms of life. Looking elsewhere will cause us to sink. We have to look to Jesus and fix our gaze and hearts on Him.
(Slide 2b) The second is that we have to be willing to get out of the boat in order to live the life that God wants us to live. These ‘getting out’ moments are not necessarily everyday occurrences (certainly, walking on the water was not one for Peter) but they are critical moments, necessary for our faith to grow and our lives to have a quality of purpose and character to them and in them that God has always intended.
So then, the purpose for these kinds of moments is to help us live through and overcome, in Jesus’ name and power, those moments of fear and uncertainty, and break through to a higher level of faith and confidence in the Lord and through the Lord.
We have examined this passage from a variety of angles. (You probably won’t read it the same way again.) (Slide 3) Our main text for this morning is only verse 29, “All right, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.” (NLT)
I want us to notice something in the story that perhaps we have never noticed or maybe have noticed and thought no one else would believe us if we said something.
Jesus did not immediately call on anyone to get out of the boat… until Peter asked Jesus to do so. The first thing Jesus did was to quiet their fears by letting them know that it was Him. We read in verse 27, “It’s all right,” he said. “I am here! Don’t be afraid.”
Then Peter says in verse 28, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you by walking on water.”
Only then, does Jesus say, “All right, come.”
I am not sure if Jesus was going to have any of them get out of the boat. May be He was, may be He wasn’t… we don’t know.
But, as was mentioned in one of the first sermons in this series, at some point, probably just after Jesus identified Himself, Peter focused on Jesus (not the storm). Then, at some point, he had this powerful moment when from deep within himself, Peter heard himself utter, Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you. He then found himself doing what seemed to be the impossible. He walked on the water.
What fascinates me is that Jesus seems to play more of the responder in this situation than initiator. However, it also appears that Jesus set the situation up to see how the twelve would respond and what kind of faith they currently had.
He told them to get in the boat and cross to the other side of the lake after feeding the five thousand. He saw, according to Mark’s account in chapter 6 of his gospel that Jesus saw that they were in trouble but waited until 3 AM to come to them. How long did He wait and why did He wait so long?
(Have you ever wondered if the disciples questioned when and where Jesus would meet them after they parted company? He is not going in the boat. How is he going to catch up with them? Makes you kind of wonder, doesn’t it?)
What comes to my thinking at this point is Peter’s response. “Tell me to come to you!” It is an act of great faith! It is act of worship! Peter is making a statement about Jesus and what he believes about Jesus.
But, what was going on within Peter to make him say such a thing?
What would make Peter want to get his feet wet? Why risk your life?
(Slide 4) John Ortberg asks this question, “Where is God calling you to walk on the water?” (Source: John Ortberg, If You Want to Walk on the Water, You have Got to Get Out of the Boat. Page 84. © 2001 by Zondervan, Inc.)