Prepare to Listen. Lord, save me!
Prayerfully Read Matthew 14:28-33
28Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ 29He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. 30But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ 31Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ 32When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’
It wasn’t a ghost walking on the stormy sea, it was Jesus. Or was it? How could they know for sure? Perhaps this is what Peter was thinking when he burst out: “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” It’s a strange request. Why not: If it’s you, please calm the storm now. That would make more sense. But Peter wanted power to walk on water, especially in a stormy sea. Jesus didn’t criticize or chastise Peter, he merely gave a one-word invitation: Come. Peter did and failed miserably.
I’ve heard many sermons on this story and the assumption was always that Peter failed because he took his eyes off Jesus. The challenge given was: Keep your eyes on Jesus and you won’t fail. The concluding hymn: ‘Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face.’ But I now wonder about that challenge. Did Peter fail because he took his eyes off Jesus? Were they on him in the first place?
Imagine getting out of a boat into a stormy sea. What would you be looking at? I suspect it would be the waves or your feet! Not Jesus. Peter failed, not because he took his eyes off Jesus. He failed because he lacked faith in Jesus from the beginning. He doubted Jesus’ words, ‘It is I.’ In his uncertainty he challenged Jesus, ‘If it’s really you, command me to come.’ Reminiscent of Satan’s, ‘If you are….’ Peter doubted and began to sink. Only then could he cry out in weak faith, ‘Lord save me.’ Jesus did but also rebuked Peter: “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Imagine the scene, and put yourself in the story and observe your thoughts, emotions and response to Jesus.
Respond in Prayer
Lord, save me. Amen.
Live Obediently. Have faith, however weak.
Despite having frequently read and taught Matthew's Gospel, preparing these daily devotions, taking that second gaze, has surprised me with newness.