Summary: Peter’s walk on the water. Life’s lessons on faith teach us to trust a Lord Who has life under control.
A farmer had a neighbor that was just absolutely negative, no matter what. If it was raining, the farmer would say to his neighbor, "Boy, look at it rain, God’s sort of washing everything clean." The neighbor would say, "Yeah, but if it keeps up it’s gonna flood." Then the sun would come out and he’d say, "If it keeps that up, it’s gonna just scorch the crops." The farmer got a new tractor and showed it to this guy. “I’ll bet it’s broke down before you get your first job done.” The farmer thought, "What am I gonna do to help change this guy’s negative attitude?" So he searched high low for something that would be hard to find negative. Finally, he found it – a duck hunting dog that had been trained to walk on water. He bought it, and sure enough, this dog could walk on water. He didn’t tell his neighbor, he just took him duck hunting. Boom! Boom! They brought these ducks out of the sky, and said to his dog, "Go get ’em." The dog walked across, picked them up, and hopped back in the boat, nothing wet just his paws. The farmer said, "What do you think of that?" The neighbor said, "He can’t swim, can he?"
The story we’re looking at this morning contains some walking on water, and you can look at it negatively, or you can learn from it. Just like a lot of the rest of the Bible, what you leave with mostly depends on what you bring with you.
You can find this story not only in John, but also in Mt and Mk. Like many stories from the life of Christ, each gospel writer includes different details, so this morning we’re going to be looking at all 3 accounts.
Only John records that the people were going to try to make Jesus their king by force. Only Mk records that Jesus looked out and saw the disciples straining at the oars on the stormy lake. And only Mt records what happened with Peter that night. It’s 3 in the morning, there’s a heavy storm, and Jesus comes out to the disciples, walking on the water. That was different! So, naturally they’re scared. So, get this picture in your mind. It’s 3 am. You’re a long way from land in the middle of a big storm. There’s a howling wind, huge waves, and someone or something walking toward you on the water. What would you be thinking? Mostly, these 12 men, 4 of them seasoned fisherman, were scared.
But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid." "Lord, if it’s you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." "Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.
There’s a lot about Peter I don’t know. I don’t know what he looked like. I don’t know what his voice sounded like. There are many things about his personality I can’t relate to. I don’t know his age at this time, or much of anything about his family. There’s a lot about Peter I just can’t know or relate to. But there’s something about Peter that I can relate to, and I think all of us can. Even though it’s not in Mk or Jn’s account, all 3 of them make one thing clear: This is a story about faith. Jesus acted as He did here for the sake of teaching faith.
You see, Peter was growing in his faith. He had room to grow. I can relate to that! And when I look at his moist journey to faith in this story, I think I can really relate to Peter. I think that what he experienced is something that all of us experience. Here’s what I mean.
I can really relate to Peter because…
I. Sometimes I Want God to Put Concreteness to My Faith
“Leave it to Beaver” - you just know Eddie Haskil is going to say, “Gee, Mrs. Cleaver, your hair looks lovely today.” You just know that Wally is going to have some reason to be upset with the Beave. And you already know Beaver and one of his friends are going to get into some kind of trouble.
Leave it to Peter. You just know Peter will be the one to blurt out, “Lord, if it’s You, tell me to come to you on the water.” (probably not a normal response) I’d say, “If it’s you, show some ID; explain how you’re doing that; tell me something about myself that only You would know.” But instead Peter says, “OK, Lord, if it really is You, tell me to walk out to You on the water.” Do you hear what he was saying? He was saying, “Lord, I’ll believe it’s You if You make something extraordinary happen in my life. Give me something really tangible, something that will 1st-hand verify my belief in you.” Really, Peter’s not too different from most of us.