The Walking on the Sea
By Rev. Dr. Sergio E. Arevalo, Jr.
August 10, 2014 (9th Sunday after Pentecost)
Jesus immediately had the disciples get into a boat and cross to the other side ahead of him, while he sent the crowds away. After dismissing the crowds, he went up on a hillside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone. By this time the boat was in the middle of the sea and was being battered by the waves, because the wind was against them.
When the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified and cried out, “It’s a ghost!” And they screamed in terror.
“Have courage!” Jesus immediately told them. “It’s me. Stop being afraid!”
Peter answered him, “Lord, if it’s you, order me to come to you on the water.”
Jesus said, “Come on!” So Peter got down out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came to Jesus.
I. PETER’S DESIRE: TO WALK ON THE WATER
As a human being, we aspire the best, we dream big, we even aspire the unbelievable. Peter saw the opportunity to test Jesus or test his own faith. Peter aimed to do something new. He asked Jesus to walk like what Jesus did. Actually in the story of the Bible, nobody can walk on the water but God. In biblical thought, only God walks on the sea (Job 9:8; 38:16; Ps 77:19; Isa 43:16; 51:9-10; Hab 3:5; Sirach 24:5-6 of Divine wisdom), but Peter tried to walk.
There’s negative and positive lessons in what Peter did. Negatively, Peter aspire for something unachievable. He forgot the letters of the Old Testament. He forgot the law of science in his time. Positively, Peter showed that it is not bad to aspire big. Peter showed that he was a risk taker, he was ready to die for his desire, for his dream.
Everyone has dreams in life, right? Yes, sometimes we have sweet dreams, and sometimes nightmare! The question is how to know if that is sweet dream or nightmare? In the Bible, sometimes a sweet dream is nightmare in reality. Sometimes those nightmares were sweet reality. Like the dreams of Daniel in 7:1-15, which he wrote, “my spirit was troubled within me and the visions of my head terrified me” (7:15).
The dream of Joseph was a sweet reality in the future, but it was nightmare for his brothers in the time of Joseph’s narration (Genesis 37:5-11).
What does this mean? Do we need to stop to dream dreams? Nope, actually in the book of Acts, it’s a part of the prophecy of Joel, “your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.” (Acts 2:17). This may mean we need to be ready to dream dreams, to envision visions, and let us pursue our dreams and visions—personally and collectively.
However, when we pursue our dreams and visions, we need to take the risk. Dreamers and visionaries are risk takers. We also need to wait for God’s timing. If we rush it something bad may happen. In the Old Testament, people know it was from God when they let them realize the will of God. The promised liberation of Israel from Egypt did not happen overnight. Actually most of them did not reach the Land of Milk and Honey. They roamed around for 40 years, and even Moses did not reach the Palestine (now Israel). Joshua fulfilled the dream by leading the exodus towards the Promised Land. Was the dream failed for Israel? Nope, they just waited for God’s timing, they waited many years for God’s promise.
Waiting is difficult, but we need to wait, and it needs a lot of patience, prayers and compassion. When the people of Israel was waiting for Moses to get down from the mountain, they became impatient and tired of waiting, they changed their vision, and they changed their God into a golden calf (Exodus 32:1-4).
Like Peter, the people of God were impatient, and they doubt their leader, and they doubt their God.
Let’s go back to our passage,
II. PETER’S FAULT: DOUBT
Jesus gave Peter an opportunity to walk on the water even though he did not need to do it. Jesus showed to Peter that even though it was impossible for a man to walk on the water, it might be possible through the help of God. But Peter fell down along the way, and about to drown. While saving him Jesus asked him why did he doubt.
There are doubts that can help you, for example, scientific doubt, hermeneutical doubt, etc. but that doubt that Peter had was doubt that might kill him!
III. PETER’S BLESSING: JESUS SAVES HIM
Peter’s faith was firm at a moment, but along the way, his faith stumbled, he noticed the strong wind, he was frightened. As he began to sink, he shouted, “Lord, save me!”
Jesus reached out his hand, and caught him. Peter was saved through the mighty hands of Jesus.
In our lives, we do experience to fall, we do experience to fall in the sea of problems, doubts, hate, jealousy, poverty, troubles, etc. but thank God, he does not leave us in that situation, since we are children of God, he is always extending his hands to help us, to save us.
Jesus told Peter not to be afraid (Mt. 14:27). Being afraid is normal to human beings, but we must do the following:
Do not be afraid. Being afraid is being in a situation that has no peace. Jesus gives us peace in times of troubles, in times of our trials, in times of our sufferings.
Being afraid triggers panic. We panic simply because we don’t what’s going on. We tantrum to a situation which we don’t know. Some people decide when they panic.
But panic creates wrong decisions. Wrong decision leads us to disaster or problem. Thank God, because when we are in troubles, when we are sinking in the deep sea of problems, sufferings, and trials. Jesus’ hands are extending to us! Willing to grab us! We have nothing to do but to grab his hands back, and say “Thank you, Jesus, my Lord and Savior!”