There’s a great story about Jesus and Peter in Matthew that gives us a wonderful insight into the grace of God. Jesus had just fed the five thousand and sent the disciples ahead of Him, by boat, to the other side of the lake while He went up into the hills to pray. When evening came and Jesus had finished praying He looked out across the lake and saw the boat was “many furlongs distant from the land,” and a strong wind had come up and large waves were bashing it around.
We pick the story up in Matthew 14: 25, “And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out for fear. But immediately He spoke to them, saying, ‘Take heart, it is I; have no fear.’” Could you imagine what it must have been like for the disciples? They had just spent a long hot day ministering to over five thousand people, and at the end of the day they had taken a leisurely sail to the other side of the lake where they could rest. But while partial way across the lake a wild storm broke loose blowing down across the hills and setting the sea into turmoil. The storm was so wild, even though many of the disciples were experienced fishermen, that it was touch and go. Then just when the disciples thought the storm couldn’t get worse they saw something out on the water.
For some reason their first thought was that they were seeing a ghost. But as Jesus drew closer and cried out to them, they realized that it was Jesus. The words Jesus called out to them are some of the most comforting words in all the Bible, “take heart, it is I; have no fear.” There are times in our lives when we are bombarded with problems, and it seems like we are about to sink under the waves of disappointment, but then Jesus comes walking to us. Those low moments in our lives are contrasted with the assurance of Jesus words, take heart, have no fear.
Peter is one of the most interesting characters in the Bible. As soon as he recognizes Jesus, he says, “’Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus; but when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord save me.’” Matthew 14: 28, 29 We have no idea what was going through Peter’s mind, but while the others were probably too startled to respond he asks if he can come to Jesus. Peter is saying to Jesus can I walk on water like you? Can I become a god? Jesus tells him to “come” and Peter gets out of the boat, an act of faith, and actually walks on the water. But when he took his gaze off Jesus and “saw the wind, he was afraid,” and began to sink.
This is our lesson. When we are battered by the storms, Jesus comes to us; there is no need for us to go to Jesus. He knows our need and is more than willing to deliver us. If we keep our trust in Christ the storms cannot break us or sink us. It is only when we take our eyes off Christ and focus on the problem instead of the solution that we go under. Our cry of help is simply, “Lord, save me.”
Over and over I am drawn to the story of the thief on the cross and his simple declaration that he deserved to be there while Jesus did not. He hadn’t confessed his sins, been obedient, kept all the commandments perfectly, paid tithe, or even heard Jesus speak, but he knew in his heart he was a sinner and this man Jesus, hanging on the cross next to him was someone special. In his need all he could do was ask one thing of Him. “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Luke 23: 42 Jesus answered, “Truly, I say to you today you will be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23: 43 The grace of God is instantaneous for anyone who calls on His name.
When you are beat up and things look hopeless please remember they aren’t because Jesus is with you. He walks on water to reach you and hangs on a cross to save you. And what about our friend Peter? “Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, O man of little faith, why did you doubt?” Matthew 14: 31 Yes, why do we ever doubt that God has our best interest at heart, loves us and cares for us and will deliver us out of this world of cares into a world made new? Remember these words of God to Joshua, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 We would do well if this verse was taped over our bed so that we began every day by looking up and remembering the promises of God.