“TAKE HEART; IT is I. Do not be afraid,” Jesus told them (Matt 14:27 ESV).
Whenever you read this in the Bible you can be certain that there was something to be afraid of.
In this case, the disciples were in a boat at around 3 a.m., it was dark, they were tired, far from land and big waves were beating against their boat, “for the wind was against them” (V24).
This might have frightened them, but they were familiar with waves.
What they weren’t familiar with was the sight of someone walking on the storm-tossed sea toward them.
“They were terrified” (V26).
They thought it was a ghost.
Jesus called out to them, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
And in that dark, turbulent storm, Peter comes up with a bright idea.
“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water” (V28).
Say what? Why?
Why not, “Hey, Jesus, if that is you, come get in the boat!”
What prompted Peter to want to come to Jesus — walking on the stormy sea?
Macho bravado in front of the trembling disciples?
Or was it the birth of faith needing to be exercised?
I prefer the later.
Jesus said, “Come.” And Peter came.
Peter got out of the boat, stepped on top of the water, and then did the bravest part of his journey — he let go of the boat.
This wasn’t mentioned, but it happened, nonetheless. And if he hadn’t let go of the boat, then his walk would have been far less miraculous.
Yes, it was a short walk.
Yes, the wind frightened him.
Yes, he began to sink.
Yes, Jesus was his lifeline.
Yes, Jesus asked him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (V31).
Peter often gets a bad rap for his lack of faith, but I want to give him a high-five someday.
Yes, Jesus questioned Peter’s doubting, but something inside of me believes that Jesus smiled when he asked him.
Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m reading more into the story than is there. Maybe.
I often go back to this passage because Peter’s response inspires me.
In the midst of the storm, he wanted to come to Jesus.
For a moment, the waves that were against him were irrelevant.
He wanted to come to Jesus, and Jesus wanted him to come. And Peter went.
Jesus often wants us to get out of our boat.
But getting out of our boat isn’t enough.
We must let go.
And letting go is the hard part.
We must leave our old security behind in order to exercise faith in the greater security of Jesus.
Peter walked on the stormy water.
Yes, it was a short walk, but he did it.
Yes, his attention was captivated by the frightening wind.
I get it.
He shouldn’t have doubted.
He shouldn’t have taken his eyes off of Jesus. I get it.
Still, be inspired.
Peter cried out, “Lord, save me,” and Jesus did. And does.
“And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God’” (VV 32,33).
At the end of the story, Jesus is worshiped.
How about you?
Are you in the midst of a dark, stormy sea?
Are the waves against you?
Are you hunkered down in your boat, clinging to the gunnel, waiting for the storm to subside?
Be inspired. Accept Jesus’ ceaseless invitation, “Come.”
Get out of your boat.
Lock your eyes on Jesus.
He will greet you with a smile.
He truly is the Son of God. Worship Him.
Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. The Rev. Greg Reynolds is pastor of Joyce Bible Church. His email is email@example.com.