Peter and Jesus

The Power of Desire

23 March 2022

3.5 MINS

The story of Peter trying to walk to Jesus on water teaches us to keep our focus on God despite the travails of life and distractions around us.

In the face of the contrary and sometimes antagonistic winds of our present culture, we can learn some lessons from an incident in the life of one of Jesus’ closest disciples, Peter.

Delight in the Lord with all our heart

Peter sat in the boat, still reeling from what he had witnessed a few hours earlier. (Matthew 14)

Peter and his friends were learning to love and obey Jesus, so they got into the boat at His command, set the sails and started across the lake.

It was only eleven kilometres to the other side; with the wind behind them, this would only be a four-hour trip. They worked the rigging and talked about the miracle they had just been a part of, when Jesus multiplied a small boy’s lunch to feed thousands.

Their conversation was soon cut short when an unexpected gust hit their boat. A squall was bearing down on them. The sails were quickly pulled down and lashed to the cross-spar.

From now on, oars were used to progress against the wind. All hands worked hard to keep the boat afloat against the onslaught of the winds and waves.

All night, the disciples struggled to make headway. Peter was confused. Why did Jesus send us across the water without Him? How was He going to get across to the other side anyway? Did He know we would encounter a windstorm? Enough thinking — their immediate task was to survive and get to the other side alive.

Only a few hours remained before dawn. They were exhausted from the constant battle against the elements. Just when they thought things couldn’t get any worse, some in the boat cried out: “It’s a ghost!”

Peter looked where the others were pointing, and there, illuminated by flashes of lightning, he saw a figure walking on the turbulent sea! Then they heard a familiar voice saying, “Take courage. It is I; do not be afraid.

Desire to be where Jesus is, doing what He is doing

This was almost too much to take in. It was Jesus, walking on the sea as if it was just solid rock beneath His feet! Suddenly, an overwhelming desire came into Peter’s heart. Peter heard himself yell into the wind, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.

The reply from Jesus was simply, “Come.” Without any explanation on how this could be possible, Peter obeyed Jesus again. No relying on self this time. All he had to walk on was Jesus’ word, “Come!

Disown anything that stops us from obeying Jesus

Before he could do the impossible, Peter did what he could.  He took ahold of the gunwale. With a deep breath, keeping his eyes on Jesus, he swung one leg, then the next over the side and stepped down onto the swelling water. It was the weirdest feeling.

The waters seemed to flatten out into a smooth pathway from Jesus to himself. There was no having to negotiate moving hillocks and valleys of heaving waves. He began walking toward Jesus, trying to keep his eyes on Him. He was doing it, walking on the sea just like Jesus.

The wind and waves continued swirling all around him, lashing his face and tugging at his now saturated clothing.

As he approached Jesus, the storm’s fury increased, with a scream. Peter was becoming less focused on Jesus and more focused on his unstable surroundings. Fear began seeping into his thoughts. Gradually the firmness under his feet turned to liquid again and he began to sink.

Before disappearing under the waves, Peter cried out in desperation, “Lord, save me!” Immediately he felt a strong hand grab his arm and pull him out of the water.  He and Jesus stood next to each other, with solid water beneath his feet again.

Jesus chided him, saying, “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?” They then walked back together, got into the boat and the wind stopped and the sea became as calm as a millpond.

All those who were in the boat came and worshipped Jesus, confessing the obvious: “You really are the Son of God!

Destiny is identifying ourselves as Jesus’ followers

Peter’s one desire had always been to be where Jesus was and do what Jesus was doing! The Psalmist tell us, “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4) As a disciple, Peter was committed to the adventure of following Jesus, no matter what the cost.

Up to a point, he embodied the characteristics of discipleship defined by Jesus Himself:

“If anyone desires to come after Me,
let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
(Luke 9:23)

Peter still had much to learn, but he was on the path of true discipleship. He was constantly reminded that: “Apart from Jesus, he could do nothing.” (John 15:5) Did he love Jesus, even though he often failed him?

Yes, he did! Even though much later, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times out of fear, he never lost his love for Jesus. He would still need the empowering of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost for the boldness to continue following Jesus.

Let us be real, brave and adventurous like Peter, as we follow Jesus where He leads us.

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