The Gospel of Matthew records a miracle performed by our Saviour on the Sea of Galilee (Matt 14: 22-36). Just before this miracle, Christ had shown His divine power when He fed a multitude of five thousand with just five loaves and two fishes. Immediately after this miraculous provision, He “constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away” (v 22).
While their Master went up a mountain to pray, the disciples went before Him “unto the other side” (v 22). But a storm arose while they were on board the boat (v 24). Though Jesus knew that His disciples were in distress, He did not immediately go to their aid. It was only at “the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea” (v 25). This teaches us that the Lord may allow us to be tried by the storms of life, with seemingly no relief. Let us bear in mind that these “billows” are sent by the Lord to try our faith and teach us to depend wholly upon Him. We must patiently wait for God’s answer for He will deliver us in His own good time.
In this miracle, we see Jesus’ absolute control over all nature. He walked on the raging sea as if it was dry land. When Peter requested to “come unto thee on the water,” Jesus condescended and invited him to “come” (vv 28-29a). Though weak, Peter, believing in the Lord’s power to sustain him, “walked on the water, to go to Jesus” (v 29b). Here, we see the great things Christ can do for those who obey Him. He can see them through seemingly insurmountable difficulties. The waves may threaten to overwhelm us but with the Lord on our side, we will be able to face any storm that comes our way.
For a while, Peter walked confidently on the water toward the Lord. But his faith began to waver when he saw the violent wind and raging waves: “But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me” (v 30). Stricken by fear because of his perceived immediate danger, Peter cried to the Lord to save him.
Adam Clarke aptly commented: “It was by faith in the power of Christ he was upheld; when that faith failed, by which the laws of gravitation were suspended, no wonder that those laws returned to their wonted action, and that he began to sink. It was not the violence of the winds, nor the raging of the waves, which endangered his life, but his littleness of faith.”
Before we judge Peter for his weak faith, let us look within ourselves. It is easy for us to take that first step of following Christ. But when we encounter trials, we faint and falter. Our minds are fully occupied with our troubles. Like the fearful disciple, we fail to look to the Lord, as our faith gives way to unbelief. Let us learn to direct our hearts and minds to the Lord Who will see us through our afflictions: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isa 26: 3).
In response to His disciple’s desperate call for help, Jesus stretched forth His hand immediately to save him: “And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? 32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased” (vv 31-32). The Lord did not leave His faithless disciple “to reap the fruit of his own unbelief, and sink in the deep waters” (J C Ryle). Though Peter’s faith failed, the Lord graciously saved him from danger.
The Lord Jesus Christ is our kind and gentle Saviour. Though, like Peter, we are sometimes faithless, He is longsuffering towards us. He understands our frailties and graciously attends to our cries (Heb 4: 15-16). May we learn to bring our needs before our merciful Saviour Who careth for us (I Pet 5: 7).