For the next several weeks,
we are going to be looking at this story from Matthew. Turn in your Bibles or your phones to Matthew 14:25-32. As you are turning, I want to
ask you for a big favor. I’m asking you,
at least through this series, to forget everything you know or have heard about
this story, and use this season to ponder some things you may have either
forgotten, or never thought about. Let’s
25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on
the water. 26 When the disciples saw him
walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” 27 But Jesus
spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take
courage. I am here!”
28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to
you, walking on the water.” 29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So
Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward
Jesus. 30 But when he saw the
strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me,
Lord!” he shouted.
31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little
faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” 32 When they
climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.
This Is More Than Just A How-To Series; It’s
About Questioning Ourselves On Which Side Of The Boat Are We Living Our Lives. Are we inside the boat or are we outside the
boat? And if we are in the boat, are we
really safer? Is it really safer holding onto what we think makes us safe?
You see, We are all on a journey—it’s called Life. And we get only 1 trip, one opportunity at this thing called Life. Will We Seek To Make This Journey Of Life Inside The Supposed Safety Of The Boat, Or Will We Take The Risk To Step Out Of The Boat And Walk On Water?
Please, make no mistake
about it; it’s risky outside the confines and comfort of the boat. But let me share something with you about
life inside the boat: It’s Boring, Mundane, And It Drains The Life Right Out Of Us. The question of the hour is this: Which is stronger in your life? The so-called safety of the comfortable and
predictable? Or, the desire to live a life that makes a difference?
We will be looking at several issues that we must deal with if we are going to be Water-Walkers. And the very first principle that we must address is so simple, it must be stated and it is the one thing you need to remember: Water-Walkers Have To Get Outta The Boat Or You Will Never Walk With Jesus!
Water-Walkers are not dreamers; they are people of action. They don’t focus on developing great ideas or
thinking lofty thoughts. They are not
interested in how much they can know—but they want to know how much they can
do. Water-Walkers are not interested in
getting the credit, or being on the front page.
They are in the deepest
sense of the word—servants, for they are the greatest risk takers. For them consensus is nice, but they won’t
wait long for it to happen, unless they know that waiting is a part of God’s
President Teddy Roosevelt described Water-Walkers this way: “It’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena—who, at best, knows in the end the triumph of great achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while doing greatly. So that his place will never be with those cold timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.”
Let’s look at what goes into the making of a Water-Walker.
1. Water-Walkers Recognize God’s Presence.
Peter and his friends got
into the boat late one afternoon. Jesus needed
to be alone with The Father. Peter
didn’t mind being in the boat. This is
where he is most comfortable and at ease.
This he can handle, much better than the stuff Jesus has been doing.
But this boat trip was different;
this time this time it was a storm so violent that it was all the disciples
could do to keep the boat upright and floating.
By 3 a.m., they weren’t interested in getting to the other side; they
just wanted to stay alive. It was then
it happened—a shadowy figure appeared through the storm. Mark’s Gospel adds a twist on this
story. He says, “Jesus was about to pass them by.”
This doesn’t mean Jesus was
trying to sneak pass them. The Greek
word for “to go past them,” is the Greek translation of
an Old Testament technical term—Theophany. A Theophany is a defining moment when
God makes an extraordinary appearance for the purpose of revealing a
message. This is an Intentional Act of
Jesus—not sneaking by them—but Revealing Himself To Them!
It’s like when God sent
Moses to a cleft in the rock so God’s glory could pass by him, or when God sent
Elijah to stand on the mountain because he was about to pass by. With each person God was going to call them
to do something extraordinary. In each
situation the person that God called felt afraid.
And every time those people
said yes to their calling, they experienced the power of God in their lives. Jesus was waiting to see if they would
recognize him or not. Before God speaks
to us, he has to get our attention.
Understand, that it’s in our crisis moments where we most frequently encounter God. Those Divinely Appointed Defining Moments Will Come To You And Me. And If You’re Not Looking For Him, You Might Just Miss Him. Of those in the boat, it was Peter who recognizes the moment. He recognized that God was present—even in the most unlikely place. He realized that this was an extraordinary opportunity for spiritual adventure and growth. The second thing you need to know is this:
2. Water-Walkers Discern Between Faith And Foolishness.
In an instance where some
would call Peter foolish, again, he calls out to this other Water-Walker, “If it is you Jesus, command me to come to you on the water.” Why does Matthew include this detail? Why doesn’t Peter just plunge into the water? I think it’s for a very important
This Is Not Just A Story About Risk-Taking; It Is Primarily A Story About Obedience. That means I have to discern between an authentic call from God and what might simply be a foolish impulse on my part. Courage alone is not enough; it must be accompanied by wisdom and discernment.
Matthew is not glorifying
risk-taking for its own sake. Jesus is
not looking for bungee jumping, hang-gliding, day-trading, tornado-chasing
drivers in Smart Cars. Water-Walking is
not something Peter does for recreational purposes.
This is not a story about extreme sports. It’s About Extreme Discipleship! Before Peter gets out of the boat, he had better make sure Jesus thinks it’s a good idea. So he asks for clarity: “If it’s really you, call me!” Asking for clarity is a good thing.
I’m almost sure Jesus smiled
a bit, because one person in the boat got it.
Peter had some inkling of what it is that the Master is doing. I don’t see the other 11 lining up for their
opportunity! Not only that, Peter had
enough faith to believe that he too, could have the adventure. And the third thing I want you to know is
3. Water-walkers Get Out Of The Boat.
Right now, I want you to put
yourself in the story. Imagine in your
mind how violent the storm must have been if even seasoned professionals were
afraid. Imagine the size of the waves,
the strength of the wind, the darkness of that night—and no Dramamine!
These were the conditions
under which Peter was going to get out of the boat. It would be tough enough to try to walk on
the water when the water is calm, the sun is bright, and the air is still. Imagine trying to do it when the waves are
crashing, the wind is at hurricane force, it’s 3:00 in the morning—and you’re
Put yourself in Peter’s
place for a moment. You have a sudden
insight into what Jesus is doing—The Lord Is Passing By. He’s inviting you to go on the adventure of
your life. But at the same time, you’re
scared to death. What would you
choose—the water or the boat? The boat is
familiar. You know the boat.
On the other hand, the water is rough, the wind is strong; there’s a storm out there. And if you get out of the boat—whatever your boat might happen to be— Reason And Logic Says You Will Sink And Drown. But if you don’t get out of the boat, there’s a guaranteed certainty that you will never walk on the water.
I believe there is something—Someone—inside us who tells us there is more to life than sitting in the boat. You were made for something more than merely avoiding failure. There exists inside you the desire To Walk On The Water—to leave the comfort of routine existence and abandon yourself to the high adventure of following God.
Look, a lot of folks point
at the Sinking Peter and say, “Just look at you! Shame on you, Peter! Why didn’t you keep you eyes on Jesus instead
of the storm? You’re pathetic, Peter.”
Let me ask you a
question: Where Were The
Other 11? They were in the boat—the boat that was about
to sink. And this leads me to: Your Next Step:
Identify Your Boat. Your boat is whatever
represents safety and security to you apart from God Himself. Your boat is whatever you are tempted to put
your trust in, especially when life gets a little stormy. Your boat is whatever keeps you so
comfortable that you don’t want to give it up even if it’s keeping you from
joining Jesus on the waves. Your boat is
whatever pulls you away from The High Adventure Of
Want to know what your boat
is? Your fear will
tell you. Just ask yourself this: What is it that most produces fear in
me—especially when I think of leaving it behind and stepping out in faith?
Now, what area of your life
do you need to call out to Jesus with the words of Peter: “If it’s you, call me out!”? What is one risk you can take in your life
that could help your faith to grow?
I believe that right now, that a Theophany is happening in your life. Jesus is about to pass by. Can you recognize Him? And if so, are you using discernment in discovering his will for you? Jesus is passing by, right now. Will you become a Water-Walker? Will you today, right now, engage in extreme discipleship? Jesus is passing by—are you going to stay in the boat, or will you experience your own Theophany, and hear Him calling you, “If you want to walk on water, get out of the boat!”