What We Can Learn from Peter’s Walk on the Water

5 Mins read

The story of Jesus walking on the water during a storm that left the disciples terrified is found in three Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and John). However, only Saint Matthew included the details about Peter’s walk on the water in his account.

The fact that Christ walked on the water doesn’t necessarily surprise us. After all, we know that Christ was both fully human and fully divine, so God in the flesh walking on the waves isn’t a shocking twist.

However, Peter was a fallen, fallible human just like we are, and he managed to walk on the water, too. That part of the story does bring about a bit of surprise.

Today, the story of Peter’s walk on the water presents us with an opportunity to learn multiple, lifechanging lessons. We can find ourselves in the story, and doing so allows us to apply some powerful principles to our own lives.

God Sees You

Mark 6:48 (NIV)
He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass them,

We’re going to look primarily about the version of this story found in Matthew since he was the only writer to discuss Peter’s walk on the water, but Mark is the only author who pointed out that Christ saw them straining at the oars.

This is an important part of the story because Jesus wasn’t with them during the storm. In fact, He was several miles away, praying on the side of the mountain where He had fed the multitude. It was the middle of the night, Jesus was miles away, the winds were howling, and the rain was coming down in buckets. And yet, He saw them.

It doesn’t matter how far away you feel like the storm has pulled you. God sees you. When you’re struggling to keep going, fighting against the wind and the waves, it’s easy to assume that you’re on your own. You aren’t. The same God who multiplied the little boy’s lunch to feed the multitude had the power over their storm, and He has the power over yours.

The Power of Boldness

Matthew 14:28 (NIV)
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

When the disciples saw a figure walking towards them on the water, they assumed it was a ghost. This is relevant to the rest of the story because in ancient times, sailors believed that seeing a ghost on the water meant that you wouldn’t live to see the morning. As the Giver of Life walked towards them, the disciples assumed that death was imminent.

When Jesus tried to calm them by telling them who He was, Peter was the one who put it to the test. Perhaps Peter was motivated by his typical boldness, or maybe he was just desperate to get out of a boat that was going under. Whatever his reasoning was, Peter was the only one of the disciples who was willing to put his faith to the test.

Because of Peter’s willingness to boldly follow his faith, he was the only one of the disciples who got to walk on the water. Sure, things didn’t go exactly the way he wanted them to (which we will look at in a moment), but the fact remains that Peter got to share a moment with Christ that no one else got to experience because of his boldness.

If you want to experience God in a brand-new way, be bold. Put your faith to work for you, and take a step out of the boat.

Obedience Matters

Matthew 14:29 (NIV)
“Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

Peter wanted to make sure that the person he was walking towards was really Jesus, so he put things to the test. “If that’s really you, Lord, tell me to come.” When Jesus said, “Come,” Peter got out of the boat. There was no more discussion, and there wasn’t any hesitation. Peter was fully obedient to Christ’s call.

There are few things that matter more in our own lives than being obedient to Christ. Peter’s obedience allowed him to experience something that none of the other disciples could say that they had done.

Peter’s obedience allowed him to share a moment with Christ that would always be uniquely his. Peter’s obedience put him above the same waves that he was afraid of just moments before this interaction.

When you commit yourself to living obediently, doors open up for you that were never opened before. Not only can you interact with Christ in a deeper, more intimate way, but you can also position yourself above the things that used to stand over you.

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Matthew 14:30 (NIV)
But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Peter didn’t start to sink until he allowed his focus to be pulled away from Christ and back to the storm. In the moments leading up to this, Peter’s eyes were locked on Christ.

As the waves lapped at the bottom of his feet, and the wind blew through his hair, Peter stood triumphantly over the storm that he was previously convinced was going to kill him.

Then, something happened. Maybe a lightning bolt flashed brighter than before, or perhaps there was a crack of thunder that rang out so loud, Peter couldn’t help but flinch. Whatever the reason, Peter turned his focus from Christ and back to the storm. In that moment, he started to sink.

This is perhaps the most important lesson found in the story of Peter walking on the water. We must maintain our focus on Christ, even in the face of the storm. When we have our eyes on Christ, we can triumphantly stand over anything that comes against us.

Unfortunately, if we focus on the storm, the storm wins, like it almost did with Peter.

It’s OK to Not Be OK

Matthew 14:31 (NIV)
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

Peter didn’t present Christ with a well-planned, well-spoken prayer. In the verse that we read just before this one, Peter found himself going under water in a massive storm. He didn’t have time to pray some lengthy, eloquent prayer.

“Lord save me,” was the most that he could muster. Thankfully for Peter, and for us, that was all that he needed.

Christ didn’t punish Peter for losing his focus. He didn’t refuse to respond to Peter’s heartfelt request until Peter “got himself together.” When Peter cried out for help, Christ reached down His hand, and pulled Peter out of the water. That’s the same way that He responds to us.

Peter’s sinking was his own fault. Before Peter climbed out of the boat, Christ was on His way to their vessel. He wasn’t going to let them sink.

After Peter climbed out of the boat, everything was fine until he allowed his focus to shift from his Savior to his storm. Peter had no one to blame for his near-death experience but himself.

That didn’t matter to Christ. Peter didn’t have it all together, and Christ didn’t care. He picked Peter up, returned him to the safety of the boat, and put the disciples where they were supposed to be.

He does the same for us. Even when what we’re facing is caused by our own lack of focus or lack of faith, He saves us.

A Closing Prayer

Heavenly Father, help me to maintain my focus on You, even in the face of my storms. Give me the boldness to step out of my comfort zone if it means I can get closer to you. Help me to be more obedient, responding only to Your call. In Christ’s name, Amen.

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