fear, doubt and faith
last week we started a series of looking at relationships with Jesus and we looked at two relationships in particular. A Pharisee and sinner. Jesus received two different things from them. one, complete and utter devotion, the other, indifference. Jesus was willing to give to both of them, but it seems only one was willing to receive what Jesus had.
this week we will focus on the relationship with Jesus and the disciple Peter in a moment in time where Peter was stepping out but scared and tested in faith.
Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.
And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,
but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them.
And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea.
in those days the nighttime was broken up into 4 watches. the fourth watch was 3-6 am. What do we call that time? very early in the morning! sailing all night in turbulent water had to of been a struggle.
and the disciples see what they thought was a ghost. but actually it was the Lord walking on water.
But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear.
why would anyone think it was Jesus? A person walking on water? this is supernatural. this is beyond what we can comprehend. So the disciples were stunned and scared. A normal human reaction. So Jesus first works on their emotional state.
But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”
when they were afraid, Jesus was there. there to comfort, there to reassure. It is exactly what was needed for them. Jesus does give what is needed. He also states it is I. similar to the phrase in , when God said I am who I am.
And we next hear Peter speak up. He has a bit of doubt, but still asks Jesus a question.
And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
Peter.....and as scripture points out, Peter is the one usually speaking up about the events going on. He always seems willing to step, willing to jump, willing to fight. but this willingness can sometimes cause problems. it can sometimes get Peter in trouble. We can think of a few other times that Peter spoke up.....when the Lord was prophesying of His own death and Peter went against it, Peter was rebuked by the Lord......also, Peter said he would never run from the Lord, but proved otherwise when Jesus was arrested, after the rooster crowed it says Peter wept bitterly. our life is proved by our actions, not our words alone.
Peter certainly spoke his mind,
One thing to note, Peter asked the Lord to command him to walk out with Him. Peter, knowing that he could not do it without the Lord’s word. this was miraculous.
so verse 28 we see Peter desiring to walk on the water with Jesus.
He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.
Jesus opens the way for Peter and we see yet another miraculous event. Peter did walk on water! remember this, metaphorically speaking, the only way to walk on water is you must step out of the boat. a reference to a book written a few years back now that encourages Christians to move, to step out in faith and go beyond your comfort zone, and to see their faith grow. Remember the last time you went past your comfort zone? it was uncomfortable! right?
a side note here...... church is a good thing, bible study is great, but if we do not allow it to sink in to the place where we can use what we learn???? it is of no value. none. what good is having the best of food and letting it sit before you while you smell it? never eating it? or a gift given to you and you never open the present? what good is it?
so I would commend Peter for stepping out of the boat. you you physically step out? What if the Lord commanded it?
verse 30 we see Peter struggling with fear in this miraculous moment of walking on water....
But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”
Peter here is on the water.... by faith he is walking on it. but something seems to take his focus. he sees the wind, maybe the waves were moving too much for him and fear struck him. as the fear collides with his faith, his faith was affected and we see that he started sinking. now the fear will double as he sinks working against his faith. what else can Peter say but Lord, save me. He did know where to turn for help in the midst of his fear. and maybe came into the disciples minds as Peter cried out....
Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me.
back in Matt verse 31 we see Jesus there....
Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Jesus was there in the midst of Peter’s doubt and fear. He reached out to where Peter was and took hold of him. He rescued Peter. and then with a question, you of little faith, why did you doubt?
why would Jesus ask Peter this question? It is a question that might have been for Peters introspection more than the Lord needing the answer. God asks questions throughout scripture and we know it is not for the answer that the Lord needs but for the person to realize where they are.....like Adam and Eve after they had sinned, God asked Adam “where are you?”
scripture can speak right to us as we read it, as we look at what took place between Peter and Jesus,
a few questions that might connect this story to our lives....
Peter stepped out of the boat but then had doubt. what is doubt? and what does doubt produce? is doubt the opposite of faith?
doubt can show us the limit of our faith. it reveals where we can grow in faith. is there areas in your life where you have faith? how about the places where your faith can be stretched to? If we are going to be real with each other, there are things we struggle with today. God is working in those areas for you but today you may have doubts about how it will go instead of having faith.
does this mean you are in unbelief? no, but you are in a struggle. a struggle to grow. so doubt is more of a red flag, a warning. an area for us to grow in.
and how can we grow? diving straight into God’s word and standing on it. sharing His word and stepping out and living it.
in our story, we see Peter asking the Lord to command him to go on the water. Peter wanted the word of Jesus to follow. that is exactly what you and I need too. we need His word.
Church, I want to give you a challenge today, and this is something that I am sure God wants for your life.
Will you pick up the word and read it more than you do already? if you read daily, will you dive in deeper, maybe study it with another person also? if you rarely get into the word, will you read it daily? will you take a step forward, step out of the boat from where you are?
Church, what I know is that this will bless you. Your faith will grow, you will change. God wants that for us all so I encourage you to move in that direction. Let God’s word speak to you. If you struggle with reading, ask for someone to read with you, find audio bibles to listen to, let God’s word fill your mind and heart.
and it is not for the purpose to just have more knowledge, but it is for you to get to know Jesus more, we can all get to know the Lord more, cant we? and maybe, just maybe our fears and doubts will be less with our faith growing more.