About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
“Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”
When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.
-Story appears in Matthew 14:25-33 [NLT]
It appears here that Jesus is putting the faith of the disciples in clear view. Not for Jesus’ sake but so the disciples could see for themselves where they are at faith-wise. Peter, of course excitedly, jumps out of the boat to see if Jesus is powerful and can help him walk on water. Well, he is, and he does. Except when Peter does step out of the boat to start walking on the water gets scared by some wind and falls in. If Peter would have been able to, in the moment, remember how not long before this Jesus was able to rebuke the wind, maybe he wouldn't have fallen. So, Jesus’ faith-demonstration played out perfectly to show not just Peter but all the disciples that they lacked faith. We sometimes scoff at Peter for falling in, yet you have to hand it to him, at least he tried! The other disciples stayed in the boat the entire time, I wonder if they even got up to try and help Peter. Peter has seen first-hand, Jesus do some of the most amazing things already, yet he fell in.
I can't help but think about what this means for our faith. Maybe the lesson to learn is something like, “always be willing, even if you aren’t perfectly sure something will work out”. Even better, “try and fail, and Jesus still loves you”.
As one with a sanguine temperament, it makes sense that I have been in similar situations. Especially early on in my walk - similar to Peter. I remember early in High School when our group needed students to step up and teach. It was a step of faith for me to put my name in the hat and try and teach our high school home church. Yet when the time actually came around I stopped trusting God for my needs in teaching that many fellow students, and instead tried to do so on my own power. I remember how grueling and terrible it felt standing in front of everyone. It was terrible, I felt like I was suffocating. Similar things like that have happened to me many times. But I think spiritually, teaching is the thing that I’ve seen that come into play the most.
For just a small moment, Peter had full trust in Jesus to help him walk on water. Once he noticed it being windy he lost focus on Jesus, and his self-trust rushed him. “Oh boy, I got bad balance” was maybe something he thought, and then what we know for sure is that he fell in. Peter sunk quickly into the water until Jesus grabbed him. He decided quickly in the moment to turn to self control instead of his faith in Jesus to keep him atop the water so he began to sink, yet it was still the Lord who saved him even when his faith wore thin.
We too will sink, time and time again, and we must allow Jesus to pull us out of our self-trust lake. Sinking deeper and deeper until ultimately we die spiritually obviously does not sound like a good idea. As long as we turn back to faith in Christ every time we fall, everything is going to be alright. God is good.