Peter can be described in many ways – impulsive, reactionary, impetuous – and he had a knack for speaking or acting without thinking. In all this, he was still one of Jesus’ closest disciples. He was full of good intentions, and he eventually grows to a mature Christian. One story really seems to characterize much of what we identify with in Peter, and that story is in Matthew 14:22-33 when Peter goes out to join Jesus on the water.
Joining Peter On the Water
The boat is place of safety, but Peter willingly leaves that safety to join Jesus. He wanted to be with and like the Lord. In John 13:6-8, Peter implores Jesus to fully wash him if that is what it takes to be more like Him. Also, in John 21:5-8, Peter is so excited to see Jesus that he jumps from the boat he is in and swims to shore. Where Jesus was, Peter wanted to be. In Matthew 14, when Peter sees Jesus walking on the water, he wants to be with his Lord, and he wants to be like his Lord.
Unfortunately, once Peter sees how unbelievable and potentially dangerous his situation was, he lost faith and began to sink. We should be willing to have the enthusiasm and zeal of Peter, and hopefully we can maintain the faith needed to persevere. In Philippians 2:5, Paul entreats us to have a similar mind to Christ, and he uses subsequent verses to elaborate on what that means. He tells us to put others first, to remain humble, and these are traits found in Jesus’ example. In I Peter 2:21, Peter makes a similar request of Christians. Peter tried to follow Jesus’ footsteps, and he sometimes stumbled. In the end, though, he found the path to emulating Christ.
Additionally, we should desire to be with the Lord as Peter did. Our goal should be to live our lives so we may one day be with our Lord. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus invites us to come to Him to find spiritual rest. Matthew 16:24 records Jesus asking those listening to crucify self and follow Him. We should be living every day trying to draw closer to Him.
However, we should avoid the distractions of this world discouraging us from our goal. Hebrews 12:1-2 reminds us to keep our eyes on Jesus, laying aside those things in our lives that may hold us back. Like Peter, we may see obstacles that hinder our paths, but if we remained focused on Jesus, we can overcome. In Philippians 3:13, Paul claims he puts his past behind him in order to stretch towards his goal of Jesus.
If we want to walk on the water with our Lord, we have to get out of the boat. We may be comfortable and feel safe in the situation we are in, but if we want to be with and like Jesus, we have to get up, disregard those things that hold us back, and make the effort to follow Him. This requires work. It requires obedience. It requires humility. It requires faith. Luke 6:46-49 records Jesus asking why we might say we believe Him but put no effort in that statement. Multiple times in John 3, Jesus expresses the effort required in following Him.
There are many things in our lives we can plan for or aspire to, but none of these can be accomplished without taking the first step toward our goals. Remaining motionless will not bring us closer to Jesus. I have to be willing to focus my eyes on Christ, step out of the boat, achieve what I perceive as impossible, and go to Him.
lesson by Tim Smelser