Matthew 14:22-33 (ESV)
22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” 28 And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
After teaching and then miraculously feeding the thousands upon thousands with the 5 loaves of bread and two fish the disciples collected, Jesus finally got a chance to pray to the Father by himself. He stayed back alone in the mountains and sent the disciples ahead of him across the lake in a boat. Early in the morning before dawn (between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.), when the disciples were about three miles away from the shore, Jesus came to them—walking on the water! They panicked, thinking he was a ghost. We must admit, a ghost makes more sense than a man walking on the water. Jesus told them to take courage, and he identified himself. But Peter wanted further evidence. Peter says to Jesus, “If it is really you, then I want to walk on water too.” Jesus replies something like “Okay then, Peter, do it!” Only two men in human history have ever walked on water: Jesus and Peter. In faith, Peter stepped out of the boat and literally walked to Jesus. But when Peter saw the rough waves the wind created, he became frightened.
As Peter lost focus, he began to sink. Jesus caught him and questioned why he began to doubt. After he and Peter got in the boat, the storm stopped, and the awestruck disciples worshipped Jesus. Clearly, they knew they were in the presence of the one who had control over all creation. They were face to face with God incarnate. Too bad that Peter stressed out and sank. Who knows what would have happened if he continued to exercise faith without fear when he walked on the water. But before we look down on him, we should remember that he was the only disciple who had the courage to go to Jesus. It was when his focus drifted off of Jesus and onto the storm that he began to sink. In a sense, we have the same choice in our lives. We can either look right at Jesus, trusting in him and doing his will, or we can look at the circumstances around us. Like Peter, even in the midst of storms, we can do above and beyond all that we can imagine if our lives and actions are fully dependent upon the Lord. Ask yourself this question today: “Who is bigger, Jesus or my circumstances?”