One of my favorite stories in the Bible is found in Matthew 14:22-33. I have heard it told many different ways, but all seem to share the same emphasis; a story of Peter’s faith being tested as he walked on the waters. I found myself reading it again in my quiet time one morning, when the Lord broke through the silence and said to me, “that story was never meant to be about Peter……” Then, as quick as He had come, He was gone and I was left to search out His truth.
I began to read the story over again as if I had never read or heard it before. The disciples had just witnessed a most beautiful miracle, the feeding of the five thousand. I’m sure as they saw all the people being fed they must have been pinching one another to make sure it was real. How could only five loaves of bread and two fish multiply in such a way as to feed thousands of hungry people? All doubts of who Jesus was or what He could do must have been silenced after what they witnessed that day. A miracle like that would have changed even the hardest of skeptics.
After the meal, Jesus insists that the disciples get into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake without Him. I am most certain that many of them fought Jesus on this request, for it says that He had to insist. They had just been a part of something that would put them in the history books. They might have wanted to stick around for a few autographs or see if there was a part two of this historic day. Whatever their motives, they did not want to leave, and yet Jesus insisted. He wanted to be the last person the people saw.
So now the scene is set, the disciples going one way and their beloved Jesus in another. There might as well have been a huge chasm between them and a thousand of years of silence for they seem to have forgotten everything Jesus had taught them thus far. As night fell, it says they came into troubled waters, a mighty storm had befallen them. At this point some of their “instincts of trade” must have surfaced for it does not yet say that they were fearful. Perhaps they had been in similar situations before. Even though they had not yet called out in desperation, Jesus saw a desperate situation, and so He came walking towards them. As He did this, for the first time in this story, the disciples were fearful. Though they had seen this man just hours before, they suddenly did not recognize Him. It says that “in their fear they cried out.” Their delusion blinded them from the severity of the storm and their fear blinded them from their way out.
I love the picture the story now lays out. Here is a massive storm shaking everything that can be shaken. These disciples have now gone from “trying to get their bearings about them” in their own strength to an irrational mess of fear and trembling. And Jesus, seeing and hearing their fear speaks the most glorious words of love and beauty, “Don’t be afraid! Take courage, I am here!” Oh how excited He was to save them. To once again prove in such a perfect way that He was their all sufficiency. I can just picture Him walking towards them, arms extended out wide, tears falling down His face, and a smile that was so glorious that it must have even brought the sun to shame. And yet even in all His glory, all that love, the disciples missed it. They did not recognize Him. Their fear overshadowed their judgment and past experiences. It was as if they never knew Him.
At this point, the emphasis was no longer on some men alone in a boat amidst a storm, but about a Savior coming to their rescue. Peter however, in one presumptuous act, stole the glory that was meant for only Jesus. It was suddenly about him and testing the authenticity of Jesus’s power. Peter was never called to walk on the waters, he was challenged to wait until Jesus came to him, to be an “extra” in a story whose main character was a Savior who was coming to save a people who didn’t even realize how much they needed to be saved. Today we too are challenged to look at our lives with fresh eyes and ask ourselves…….whose story is it really about?