Springboarding off of the Apostle Paul’s life focus, clearly expressed in 1 Corinthians 2:2, Pastor Greg launched an “open-ended” message series on January 12th, 2020 – focusing on “Just Jesus.” He is walking us through the entire New Testament, pulling passages from the Old Testament for context, and keep us focused throughout the year on “Just Jesus.”
This is week 58, Matthew, part 56 in the series. Today Pastor G covers Matthew 14:24-36. Peter walks on the water with Jesus.
Welcome to week 58 of our Just Jesus series. This is Matthew Part 56. Last week we saw Jesus feed 5,000 men plus women and children, possibly as many as 10,000 people, with just five small loaves and two fish. Of course, we know He could have fed them by creating it out of thin air if He wanted to. He chose to use what the disciples provided and what the people were willing to share and create way more than enough for everyone with twelve baskets of stuff leftover! Amazing! A powerful object lesson for us about trust, generosity, service, and sharing as well as meeting real physical needs of the people Jesus loves. Jesus then sent the disciples across the sea in a boat. Sent the crowds home and He went up on a mountainside alone to spend time in prayer with the Father. We talked last week about how He was modeling this need to be alone with God in the quiet place. That’s what Jesus modeled for us last week. That kind of prayer is a good place for us to begin this week. That’s a lesson Peter and the other disciples learned shortly after what we just read about last week.
If you are ready to hear what God has put on my heart to share with you this morning, please do me a favor and say or type Hit Me Wit It G! I’m Ready! Awesome! Let’s get into it. The disciples have been out on the water for a while. They left right after dinner time that night. Jesus went off alone to pray for a while and then this happened.
But the boat was already a long distance from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. ~ Matthew 14:24-25
In that Hebrew culture, the night was divided into four watches: The first watch was from six in the evening (about sunset time) until nine at night. The second watch was nine until midnight, the third watch from midnight until three in the morning, and the fourth watch from three in the morning until six, about sunrise. So, the disciples have been out on the water, probably about 5-6 hours. They are way out in the middle of the water, middle of the night, stormy seas around them. And they look out across the water and see a figure walking on top of the sea toward them. Can you imagine?
They don’t recognize the figure as Jesus right away. In their defense, what would they? If you are out in the middle of the ocean at 3 am and somebody looks like they are floating out over the surface toward you your first thought is not that they are walking on water. To my knowledge, no one had ever done that before. So what is their reaction? Look at verse 26
When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. ~ Matthew 14:26
I’m with them. I think that would have been my first, natural reaction to that sight as well. If I had been by myself I would have assumed I had lost my mind or maybe I was dreaming but if I am there with my eleven best friends and we are all saying the same thing, I’m thinking GHOST!
But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” ~ Matthew 14:27
Notice, Jesus does this IMMEDIATELY. Everybody say immediately. Without delay. As soon as it is apparent the disciples are feeling fear, Jesus IMMEDIATELY speaks to them to calm their fears. He doesn’t leave them hanging, stressed out, worrying. He does the same thing with you and me as well by the way. Whenever we begin to feel stressed, worried, afraid, pull this promise into your mind as well. IMMEDIATELY be aware of and claim the truth that Jesus is with you so do not be afraid.
By the way, do you know, How many times does God says “do not be afraid” or “fear not” or some variation of that phrase in the Bible? Anybody know? Take a guess. Yeah, it’s been said that it is in there 365 Times! One for every day of the year. Isn’t that awesome? That’s not really true though. Sounds really cool but it’s not true. But the word fear does occur 385 times and the word afraid occurs 163 times not always in the “do not fear” sense but often just in a statement of fact that someone is afraid. The phrases “do not be afraid” or “fear not” or “have no fear” or “do not fear” or “do not worry” or “worry not” or “what can you can by worrying” occurs 121 times altogether. In addition, there are many C.I. E. context is everything moments where it is certainly implied that we should not be afraid of anything or worry about anything or be terrified of anything other than fear of rebelling against or opposing God.
So, all in all, there may be 365 or more times that we are encouraged to choose something other than fear. Why does God say do not be afraid so much to us? Because we so often tend to be afraid yeah? Fear often immobilizes us. Causes us to miss out on blessings God intends for us. Causes us to miss out on blessing someone else. Fear, worry, doubt, terror, those things are all our enemies. That’s why Jesus tells us to avoid these negative emotions.
Here, and He makes this clear throughout Scripture, the reason we don’t need to be afraid is because God is with us. Even if the thing that is coming at us succeeds in killing us, we just go on to eternity with Jesus. As fully devoted followers of Jesus, we literally, have nothing to be afraid of. This life, even with the worst troubles we can imagine, is just a drop in the bucket of eternity. A flash in the pan. A billion years from now you won’t remember a single bad thing that ever happened to you. So don’t be afraid. We need to be like King David in Psalm 27 when he declared
The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear The Lord is the defense of my life; Whom shall I dread? When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, My adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell. Though a host encamp against me, My heart will not fear; Though war arise against me, In spite of this I shall be confident. ~ Psalm 27:1-3 YAY GOD?
We need to declare courage like Paul did in Romans 8
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:31-35, 37-38
Somebody say WHOOP GLORY! Back to Jesus walking on the water. Jesus IMMEDIATELY tells the disciples it is not a ghost – they have nothing to be afraid of. Jesus is with them. Again, take that message to heart for you in your life right now. Whatever troubles, trials, tribulations, scary situations, worrisome fears and doubts are trying to crowd in on your mind have no power over you. IMMEDIATELY remind yourself that Jesus is with you this very minute and He is also IMMEDIATELY saying to you right now “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” ~ Matthew 14:28
This reminds me of John’s advice in 1 John 4:1 1
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. ~ 1 John 4:1
Peter wants to make sure this isn’t some ghost pretending to be Jesus. If it really is Jesus then He should be able to miraculously help Peter walk on the water too.
And [Jesus] said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. ~ Matthew 14:29
Can you imagine? How amazing would it be to go walking on the surface of the ocean? Of course, Peter is not doing it on his own power. It is only because Jesus has invited Him to do it and has given him the power to do it. That’s a big lesson for us as well. Two key points to this.
KEY PONT #1: If God calls us to do something He will not set us up to fail.
We talked about that last week as well. If God calls you to do something difficult, seemingly crazy, even impossible, don’t be afraid. Trust that is He has called you to do it, it must be possible for you to do it. Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:24
Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:24
He is specifically referring to the second coming of Christ that He will bring to pass but it applies to every other promise God has made as well. If God calls you to do something, even if it seems impossible, step out of the boat in faith, trusting that He will not set you up to fail. There is a second key point to this action of Peter stepping out of the boat to walk on water.
KEY IDEA #2: His faith had to be confidence in Jesus and what Jesus commanded him to do.
Even though it was Peter’s idea to do this impossible thing and even though He had to have faith in Jesus to pull it off, He didn’t just name it and claim it and jump out onto the water trusting in his faith to keep him from sinking. That’s just not the way Biblical faith works. No matter how much we want something, no matter how much we believe it is possible, no matter how much (PASTOR G GRUNTS) FAITH we muscle up to apply to the situation, we cannot accomplish that thing unless God has called us to do it and unless we trust God in doing it.
If that name it and claim it idea worked then we could all just walk down to Hapuna and take a stroll over the Maui. Now, if Jesus shows up at Hapuna and says “Come, follow me across the sea to Maui.” We should absolutely have 100% faith in Him and that command and we should head right out onto the water. He will never set us up to fail. Anything He calls us to do is possible for us to do as long as we keep our faith in Him, in who He is, and in what He has promised us. You see the difference?
I’m not trying to offend anyone. I’m just telling you what the Bible ACTUALLY SAYS about the way faith works. It’s not about US and what WE want. It’s about Jesus and what He calls us to do. Period. Peter basically prays “Jesus, can I walk on the water with You?” Jesus could have said no, but in this case He says yes and He gives Peter the miraculous ability to walk on the water with Him. Peter never could have done this on his own. He never did it again. Just this one time while He was with Jesus. So, Peter is out there walking on the water toward Jesus and at first he must have been totally stoked. Right? He was thinking “This is the killler whip yo!” I am walking on the water! I am walking on the water
But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” ~ Matthew 14:30
What happened? Peter forgot that walking on the water was not dependent upon Him. This wasn’t a super power bestowed upon him. The ONLY reason he was walking on water is because he was trusting in Jesus to levitate him on the water because Jesus has invited Him to come out on the water. When he took his eyes off of Jesus, when he stopped keeping his faith in Jesus, when he looked at the storm around him, and when he tried to walk on the water on his own power, he realized, rightfully so, “I can’t walk on water!” Of course YOU can’t walk on water Peter! But Jesus can! And if you would have just kept looking at Him and trusting in Him you would still have been walking on the water. That’s why the author of Hebrews tells us in Hebrews 12:2a we need to
… [fix] our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith… ~ Hebrews 12:2a
Peter begins to sink and he cries out to Jesus to save him. That’s a very smart thing to do yeah? When you have those crises of faith, as we all sometimes do, when everything is falling apart around you in your life and you feel like you are sinking, drowning, what should you do? Cry out to Jesus! That’s what Peter does. What happens?
Immediately [everybody say IMMEDIATELY] Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him …. ~ Matthew 14:31a
Just like when they saw Him on the water and became afraid He was a ghost. As soon as Peter was afraid, as soon as Peter cried out for help, Jesus IMMEDIATELY answered him and reached out to him. A couple of months ago I found this painting of that very moment.
I LOVE this painting. It is my screensaver on my desktop and my phone. I would LOVE to find out who the original artist is and buy a print for our condo wall. It’s just amazing!
(NOTE: Someone did find the artist and ordered a print of it for Pastor G.)
When we cry out to Jesus in fear He comes running IMMEDIATELY. [Pastor G sings] Let me tell you friend see it’s not good to be alone in this world. Not talking about friendships. I’m talking about Jesus Christ and what He’s done for you. He paid the price with His life and now He’s waiting closer than a whisper away. Jesus is always closer than a whisper away.
Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” ~ Matthew 14:31
Again, the lack of faith on Peter’s part was not a doubt that HE could walk on water. No. The doubt, the little faith, that Peter had just shown, was a lack of faith in Jesus’ ability to keep Peter afloat in the midst of the storm. You see the difference? How do I know that? C.I.E.
Now, for us, we’ve maybe heard this story a hundred times or more and we are quick to criticize Peter right? Oh, how could he have such little faith, after everything He has heard Jesus say and especially after everything he had seen Jesus do. And especially, especially after, for a short time at least, Peter was actually out walking on the water with Jesus! Why did he take his eyes off of Jesus? Why did he begin to doubt Jesus’ ability? But before we get too hard on Peter. Where were the other eleven disciples? They were all still back in the boat yeah? They never risked anything. They never asked Jesus anything. Never tried anything. They were safe and dry in the boat the whole time. ONLY Peter had the faith in Jesus to actually get out of the boat. The lesson for you and me is,
IF YOU WANT TO WALK ON WATER, YOU”VE GOT TO STEP OUT OF THE BOAT!
Where in your life is God calling you to step out of the boat? What safety net, what safe harbor are you hiding out in, resisting the call of God to trust Him, step out of the boat, and walk on water with Him, figuratively speaking? Are you going to be like Peter and at least try to exercise faith in what God is calling you to do, trusting that He will never set you up for failure? If He calls you to do something then it must be POSSIBLE for you to do it, AS LONG AS YOU KEEP TRUSTING IN and FOLLOWING HIM! AMEN? YAY GOD!?! If you want to walk on water, you’ve got to step out of the boat.
When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!” ~ Matthew 14:32-33
This is astounding to me! NOW they confess their faith that He is God’s Son? All the other miracles they’ve seen Him do, those didn’t convince them? Really?? Even now, despite the fact that they proclaim their faith in Him in this moment, as we read the second half of Matthew’s Gospel we see that their faith regularly failed them again and again. Doubts and questions kept roaring in. Despite Jesus’ many warnings and promised about His impending crucifixion and death, they were all still surprised. Despite Jesus’ many promises that He would rise again on the third day of the Passover and Unleavened Bread Feast, they were still shocked when it happened. They still didn’t believe the reports of the women when they first heard it. There is a powerful lesson for all of us here. How quickly we forget. I am confident every single one of us has experienced, more than once, the miraculous provision of God. We’ve all had our faith boosted enormously in the moment when we watch God arrive “Large and In Charge” and do the impossible in our lives. But then, a year later, a month later, a week later, a day later, an hour later, a minute later …. we find ourselves back in the midst of doubts and fears and worries again. How consistent is our worship and our faith that Jesus is indeed God’s Son? That’s one reason daily quiet times alone with God, as we talked about in-depth last week, are so important to keep our faith consistent and strong.
Then, when the storms, when the “I’m drowning” moments come, we don’t panic at all. We just reach our hand up to Jesus, with confident faith that He will immediately be there to help us, to save us. AMEN? YAY GOD? Let’s finish the story, and finish Matthew 14. We are halfway through our Matthew journey.
When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. ~ Matthew 14:34
Gennesaret is a village on the coast of the Sea of Galilee. In fact, the Sea of Galilee is also known as the Lake of Gennesaret. When you are reading the Gospels you will see both names used. It’s the same body of water.
And when the men of that place recognized Him, they sent word into all that surrounding district and brought to Him all who were sick; and they implored Him that they might just touch the fringe of His cloak; and as many as touched it were cured. ~ Matthew 14:35-36
This story ends the same way it began. The requests of these people to touch the fringe of His cloak are very similar to Peter’s request to walk on water. Again, they don’t assume they WILL be healed by touching His cloak. It’s not their independent decision to have faith in this idea that has come into their head that brings about their healing. They make the request and Jesus, fortunately, GRANTED their request, and, placing their faith IN HIM, NOT placing their faith IN THEIR FAITH, NOT placing their faith IN THEIR CLAIMED DESIRES, NO! Their faith, their confidence that Jesus is who HE CLAIMS TO BE and that He will do everything HE PROMISES TO DO, THAT is what heals them. “Jesus, can we touch your cloak and be healed?” is, at its core, the same question Peter asked. “Jesus, if it is You, can I walk on the water with You?” In BOTH cases, Jesus answers yes but He could have said no. If Jesus said no to Peter, Peter would have sunk like a stone the minute he stepped out of the boat. No matter how much faith Peter had that he could walk on water. You follow me?
If Jesus had said no to the crowd’s requests for healing, they would not have been healed. They would have gotten a hand full of fabric and NOTHING ELSE. No matter how much they believed they would be healed. No matter how much faith they had in that preferred outcome. No matter how sure they were. That’s just not Biblical faith. Biblical faith is ALWAYS – everybody say ALWAYS – Biblical faith is ALWAYS 100% dependent upon the Promises of God and NOT on our own desires.
Finally, notice also, the demands and requests never end on Jesus. He never complains. He is always filled with compassion, with splangknidzomai. He is always IMMEDIATELY close by. Always IMMEDIATELY ready to give, to heal, to guide, to support, to love. When doubt, fear, worry, comes your way, just cry out to Jesus and He will IMMEDIATELY reach out and remove your fears. He is always [PASTOR G SINGS] Closer than a whisper away.
One day soon, He may call you to do something seemingly impossible. When that day comes, remember, He will never set you up for failure. He is faithful and He will do it. He will always keep His promises to you. [PASTOR G SINGS] So if there’s an ocean in front of you. You know what you’ve gotta do. Take another step and another step. Maybe He’ll turn the water into land, and maybe He’ll take your hand and say “Let’s take a walk on the waves. Will you trust Me either way, and take another step? Take another step and another step and another step.” If Jesus calls you to walk on the water with Him, you’ve got to step out of the boat. Amen?
~~~~~ LET’S PRAY ~~~~~