Summary: Peter dared to do what the others never dreamed of doing. Safety first was their motto. But Peter was an impulsive risk taker, and his impulse in this very unusual setting was to step out onto the water.
Back in 1959 Ford Motor Company admitted they made a big
mistake in making the Edsel. It cost 250 million to bring it to market,
and they lost 200 million during the 2 and 1/2 years they produced it.
It was the number one lemon in the history of the U. S. auto industry.
But smart owners turned their lemons into lemonade. They formed
an Edsel owners club in all 50 states; they published a quality
magazine and had annual conventions, and they made their Edsels
collectors cars worth much more than they were new.
The point is, mistakes can be costly, but they can also be
profitable. The whole idea involved in Rom. 8:28 that God works in
all things for the good of those who love him is this very point. God
will even work with us in our mistakes to make them profitable and
learning experiences. This means we do not need to fear failure so
much that we refuse to take a chance and do what is of some risk.
Our very failure could be the stepping stone to success. This is not
some kind of mystical religious principle, but it is the wisdom of very
practical minded men. Years ago a writer interviewed IBM
president Thomas J. Watson, and this is what he said:
"It's not exactly my line," Watson said, "But would you like me
to give you a formula for writing success? It's quite simple, really.
Double your rate of failure." "You're making a common mistake.
You're thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn't at all.
Failure is a teacher-a harsh one perhaps, but the best. You say you
have a desk full of rejected manuscripts? That's great! Everyone of
those manuscripts was rejected for a reason. Have you pulled them
to pieces looking for that reason? "You can be discouraged by
failure-or you can learn from it. So go ahead and make mistakes.
Make all you can. Because, remember that's where you'll find
success. On the far side of failure."
There are numerous illustrations of this in the secular world, and
there are volumes that deal with the subject. But the best illustration
of this in the New Testament is the life of Peter. We have more
recorded mistakes and blunders of Peter than all the rest of the 12
put together. He was the master of mistakes, and yet Jesus chose him
to be the leader of the 12. There is no list of the Apostles where Peter
is not first. Is there any connection between all of his mistakes and
his being the number one man in leadership? Yes there is, and the
mistake we want to examine is a prime example.
Peter was the only man Jesus ever rebuked for lacking the faith
needed to stay on top of water. Why would Jesus make this man he
had to rebuke more than all the others the leader of the others? He
did so because Peter was the only one of the 12 willing to take the
chance. Yes, he sank while all the rest were safely in the boat. But
that is because he was the only one willing to take the chance of
leaping out of the boat. The risk taker fails more because they do
more. You can criticize Peter and be justified in doing so, for Jesus
rebuked him for his little faith that led him to doubt and then sink.
Peter did fail here, and needed to be rescued, but look at the whole
The only reason Peter failed is because he took a chance, and he
was the only one who did. We focus on his failure and neglect the fact
that Peter was the only man besides Jesus whoever succeeded in
walking on water. His faith weakened in the storm, but the text tells
us clearly in verse 29, "Then Peter got down out of the boat and
walked on the water to Jesus." Peter was the greatest success in the
world at walking on water. That took tremendous faith. But what we
see here is that faith can be very flimsy, and confidence can collapse
very rapidly in a fearful situation.
Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, said at a press
conference in July of 1970, "I particularly remember the elation of
finding out that we indeed weren't going to sink into the surface, and
we could continue with all the other planned activities." These were
among the coolest men on the planet, and yet they had their fears as
they set foot on the moon. How much more so for Peter who set foot
on the lake where there was no mystery about it? He knew that
sinking in water was inevitable. Had the water been as still and calm