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Peter is known as the disciple who did not walk on water. That he later also denied Christ, is the making of a notorious person. Yet, Peter is a stalwart of faith. How did that happen? How did he learn to overcome his fear and walk in faith?
I like to think Peter always had the making of being a great faith walker. Let’s take a look at his life:
When we first meet Peter, he’s at the dock fishing with his brother and father.
Jesus said to them, “Follow Me. I will make you fish for men!” At once they left their nets and followed Him (Matthew 4:19-20).
It took a certain amount of faith to walk away from what could have been a lucrative career for something unknown. Did they know what Jesus meant when He said they would be fishers of men? Peter, being a fisherman, may have wondered what skills he had to help him in this new career.
He didn’t know how he would be fed, where he would sleep or how long he would be doing it. Furthermore, both he and his brother had abandoned the family business, would their father have enough resources to be successful without them?
The fear could have prevented Peter from taking that first bold step in Jesus’ direction. He had no way of knowing he would eventually be one of the leaders in a new church.
By the time Jesus walked on water in Matthew 14:22-33, Peter had already spent some time in His presence. Peter had witnessed enough to know that there was something supernatural about Jesus. Let’s read the account together:
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Fear is all over this story. When the disciples saw the figure walking on the water, they were terrified. These were grown men. Men who were used to being at sea at night, they had seen many things. Yet, there something ethereal about Jesus walking on water.
But God’s first words to His disciples were “Take courage.” This He tells them even before He identifies Himself. But only Peter was brave enough to get out the boat.
Oh, we love to talk about Peter’s lack of faith, we love to point out that if he hadn’t doubted he wouldn’t have sunk… but –
How many of us would have been willing to step out of the boat? I mean, come on, it was dark, and the waters were deep, who knows what kind of creepy, crawly things were in the water with you? I for one would have kept my mouth shut. Not Peter. He chose to stand up in a boat (did that make it wobble?). Step over the sides and somehow believe he would not sink immediately into the deep.
This is another moment where Peter does not do so well in his faith walk. At the time when Jesus needed him most, he pretended he had no idea who Christ was (Luke 22:54-62). Not only that, he acted in a way which went against everything Christ taught. Is it any wonder he was ashamed?
But see, Jesus knew Peter. That’s why, after His resurrection, He made sure the message was ‘tell the disciples and Peter’. He wanted Peter to know he was forgiven and all was well.
Jesus knew if Peter had heard that the disciples were going to meet Jesus, he would not have gone. He was ashamed because he had denied the Messiah whom he loved. Peter wasn’t looking at the fact that all of the disciples forsook Jesus (Mark 14:50). He was only looking at his failure. When Jesus singled him out, it gave him another chance to walk in faith.
Peter had to choose to leave his
shame behind. He had to choose to forget that his fear had caused him to betray
the Savior he loved. He had to choose every day from that point on to walk in
We have the same choice to make. We have to choose to follow Christ daily. In every decision, we have to choose God. When things seem impossible, we have to choose our faith in God over our feelings. We choose, as Peter did, to walk faithfully and fearlessly regardless of past mistakes.
Challenge: What past mistake do you need to walk away from? How will you choose to walk in faith?
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