We have just spent a long day with Jesus as He talked with the crowds on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. People came from all over to hear Him and to hopefully find healing. He touched many today both with His words and His healing touch. I cannot believe all that I have seen and heard.
Jesus also fed all these people! I am still amazed that we passed out baskets of food to all those gathered and yet we still had twelve baskets of leftovers! There looked to be about 5,000 men here as well as women and children. The offering of bread and fish came from a small boy who gladly shared his lunch.
Jesus is thanking the crowd for being with Him this day and sending them back to their villages. The sun has recently set, and the glow of the sunset is reflected in the sky as dusk is falling. The wind continues to gently move among the trees and the water splashes on the shore near the boat.
Jesus has just told us to take the boat and go to Capernaum. He is not going with us now but has chosen to stay behind to go into the hills and to pray. He does this frequently – goes off by Himself to pray to His Father.
“Andrew! Stop daydreaming and help us to get ready to launch the boat,” called my brother, Peter.
“I’m coming!” I reply as I walk down the hillside toward the boat. There are twelve of us who Jesus invited to follow Him and to learn from Him. Peter and I were fishermen here on the Sea of Galilee and when Jesus called to us to become fishers of men, we dropped our nets to join Him. He also called to James and John, and they have followed Jesus as well.
We all step into the water to push the boat further into the sea as the moon rises and reflects on the water. We climb into the boat and grab the oars to begin our journey to the next town where Jesus will minister.
Our journey starts well enough but as we move out from the shore and night descends the wind begins to grow stronger. We’re familiar with the change in the winds as this can occur over the sea here. We put more of ourselves into rowing in the hope that we can arrive at Capernaum before the winds are too strong for us.
The hours roll on and the wind and waves have increased, and we are becoming tired with our rowing. This is one of the worst windstorms that we have seen, and our efforts are for naught. We are now miles from shore and it’s too difficult for us to return.
Suddenly Peter cries out that he sees someone coming toward us on the water. We stop temporarily so that we can look out as well. We are all terrified and cry out, “It’s a ghost!”
Jesus speaks to us immediately saying, “Don’t be afraid. Take courage, I am here!”
“It’s Jesus!” Peter shouts to us above the wind.
“But that’s impossible!” I shout back to him. “We need to keep rowing so that we can get to shore before we capsize!”
The wind and waves have increased, and we are all becoming tired from our fight against nature.
“Lord, if it’s really You, tell me to come to You, walking on the water,” Peter shouts.
“Yes, come,” Jesus responds.
Peter did not need any further encouragement as he made his way to the side of the boat.
“Peter! Come back and stay here with us! You know that you can’t get out of the boat and into these rough waves! You’ll drown for certain!” I call to him.
Peter has been impulsive from the time that we were young boys and often found himself in difficult situations throughout our childhood and into adulthood. He rarely asks for permission and often rashly moves forward headlong into difficulties. To hear Peter ask permission is in itself a miracle.
Peter ignores my pleas to stay in the boat and eagerly puts his leg over the side. I grab him by the sleeve and implore him to remain with us in the boat, but he looks at me and insists that he will be fine.
As Peter begins to put his other leg over the side, I grab onto the oars to help keep the boat in place while we are tossed back and forth.
Despite all logic I see Peter taking tentative steps across the water as he walks toward Jesus! We all pause to watch in amazement to see this incredible sight.
Peter took deliberate steps on the water, but as the wind continues to batter against him, he then turns to look around him taking his eyes off Jesus. As soon as he did this, he begins to sink! He turns toward Jesus and shouts, “Save me, Lord!” Jesus is there immediately putting out His hand to Peter to raise him from a watery grave. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt Me?”
As the two of them come to the boat, we reach out to help them climb over the side. As soon as Jesus gets into the boat, the winds and waves miraculously calm, and we immediately arrive at our destination. We then worship Him exclaiming, “You really are the Son of God!”
As we climb out of the boat to haul it to shore, we exchange looks of amazement at what we had just witnessed. We have seen many things that defy logic, and this is another miracle that will remain in our memories.
Insight: The story of Jesus and Peter walking on the water can be found in Matthew 14:22-34; Mark 6:45-52 and John 6:16-21. The Sea of Galilee is 650’ below sea level, is 8 miles wide at its widest point, 160’ deep and is nestled among the hills surrounding it. Because of the geography, storms of the type described in scripture often occur.
Prayer: Father, when I am battered by the storms of life, may my eyes turn to You, and may I reach out my hand to clasp Yours as You guide and direct me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.