wee-faithed ones | Matthew 14.28-32
And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to 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.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Matthew 14.28-32 | ESV
Nervously, impetuously, boldly, Peter speaks out to the apparition dancing on the waters, “Lord, if that really is you, then tell me to come to you right out there on the waters!” Jesus shouted back one word, “Come!” And stepping out of the relatively safe confines of the boat, Peter walked. On the waters. And he stepped out, walking right up to Jesus, undaunted, unhesitating. On the water. Ah, but then he looked at where he was and thought about it. He saw the wind – and felt it too – strong and howling, and his heart was swamped with fear, his body quickly following suit, plunging beneath the waves, he then gasping in terrified desperation, “Lord, save me!” And without a moment’s thought or delay, Jesus instantly reached his hand out and he took hold of the helpless, thrashing man, and gently chiding him, “Ah wee-faithed-one, you just had to look and think and doubt, didn’t you?” And lifting him to his feet, they walked back to the boat together. And no sooner had they climbed in and joined the others witnessing this whole spectacle, than the wind. Stopped. MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
Three of the Gospel writers tell this story of Jesus walking on the water, but only one dives into this scene of Peter stepping out and joining him there. For some reason, only Matthew sees fit to mention it, and I just can’t resist going there, for in this story we see a unique portrait of both Christ and humanity – this isn’t just Peter – each of us can see ourselves here, sure enough.
To quote Edersheim, again:
‘Lord, if it be thou, bid me to come to Thee on the water.’ They are the words of a man, whom the excitement of the moment has carried beyond all reflection. And yet this combination of doubt (‘if it be Thou’), with presumption (‘bid me come on the water’), is peculiarly characteristic of Peter. He is the Apostle of Hope – and hope is a combination of doubt and presumption, but also of their transformation.
Yes, we are all a mixed bag of doubt and presumption, of assurance and second-guessing, aren’t we?
And as this mixed bag of doubt and presumption steps out with wavering foot and trembling hand, I can count on seeing my share of the floor (or the water) as I fall flat on my face.
Funny how we so often see the bottom line of this story being that Peter made a fool out of himself (again) and sank like the Rock that he was – what do you expect when Rock tries to walk on water?
He should have tried skipping.
Oh for the faith to fail so grandly as Peter did on the water, rather than failing as we huddle in fear in the boat, for it is not a scalding, scolding that I hear issue from the Master’s lips as he reaches out and takes hold of Peter’s flailing hands – any more than we would scold our child when falling during that first try on a bike.
Only two people in history, as far as we know, walked on water. Jesus and Peter. And Peter did it twice – once on his way to Jesus and again on their way back together to the boat…
just how do you think they got back to the boat?
When most recently have you risked failing spectacularly? What happened? What would you say is the key ingredient needed to get us to leave the safety of the boat and step out into risk?
Lord, give me the eyes to see you skipping atop the troubles that weigh me down and threaten to drown me; give me the courage to step into where you are; and when I think about all this too much, as I undoubtedly will, and begin to sink, thank you for not scolding but catching me, lifting me, and showing me how to skip with you. Amen.