But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? – Matthew 14:24-31.
Most of us are familiar with the account of The Lord Jesus Christ walking on water. In one of the many displays of His miraculous power, Jesus walked on the surface of raging waters to visit his disciples whose boat was getting tossed by the raging waves. The disciple Peter, often the quickest to respond in a situation, actually requested that Jesus empower him to walk on the water as well to prove it was truly their beloved Master. Jesus honored the request and Peter, a mere mortal man, was actually walking on water. But soon fear crept in and he started sinking into the rushing waters, whipped into a tempest by violent winds and storm. And at this time he uttered the shortest prayer in the entire Bible: “Lord, save me.” In this account there is much to be learned about the power of prayer and the awesome power of God.
1. We Are Utterly Helpless – Peter was a desperate man in a hopeless situation. There are few scarier moments people experience than the feeling of drowning. The fragile state of human mortality is pronounced when a person is struggling to breathe and stay afloat in harsh waters. Peter knew that on his own he did not stand a chance of survival. And this of course is the truth of the human condition. Because of our sin, we now stand hopeless and utterly powerless against the judgment of God that stands before us. We have willingly and knowingly violated God’s commands in thought, word and deed daily – despite God’s warnings that the wages of sin is death.
What defense can we offer? None. Can we make a case to God that we’re really not that bad of a sinner and that we are actually “good.” No. The Book of Job poses the question: “How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?” Psalm 130 similarly questions: “If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?” When God stuck 57,000 men of Bethshemesh dead for stealing the ark of the covenant and breaking his command to never look inside of it, they uttered in desperation: “Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God?” In the face of God’s judgment we have nothing to grasp onto, hold on or power on our own to stand and proclaim our goodness. Because of our sin we are just as helpless as the drowning disciple.
2. Prayer Acknowledges God Is Lord – Peter opened his 3-word prayer by addressing Jesus as “Lord.” He recognized Jesus Christ not as a teacher, wise sage, hippie or some type of political figure – but as God. Seeing Jesus for who He truly is – God in the flesh, or “the fullness of the Godhead bodily” is the first step to a right relationship. It is a sign of humility before God. King Solomon, then the wisest man on Earth cautioned: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7). Do you want to feel closer to God? Do you want to understand God and the Bible? Start by humbling yourself and acknowledging Him as Lord. James chapter 4 says: “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” Peter indeed humbly called upon God and was lifted up.
3. God Will Save Us
“And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”
Facing an impossible situation, Peter nevertheless called upon The Lord Jesus Christ to help him. When there was no other option and his life was in the balance, he believed that Jesus could do something to rescue him. Even after he disobeyed Jesus. Notice that Jesus told the disciples “It is I, be of good cheer. Be not afraid.” And just two verses later, we read of Peter: “he was afraid.” We will all stumble. We will all have doubts. We will all at times, let the troubles, stresses and pain of this world guide our thinking. We will take our eyes off Christ and turn them to our circumstances. And we will be afraid. But even after giving into the flesh, and putting ourselves in a horrible situation, we can still turn back to God.
This is the faith that Christians should hide in their hearts and cling to each day. We are certainly guilty and clearly deserving of Hell for a lifetime of sin and iniquity. But Jesus Christ, by His shed blood on the cross saved us from what was a sure fate. The guilt we have for our sin is replaced with free forgiveness when we trust in Jesus Christ who took God’s wrath for us. This same drowning disciple Peter would at a later time write of Jesus: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1 Peter 19:24). Jesus chose to die for the sins of humanity because He loves humanity. And through His perfect life, death and resurrection all who believe are indeed saved.
And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
In each challenge, when we cry out, we grow closer and more sure in our knowledge and faith. This world is a refinement process – we suffer in this life to build our faith and continually rely on Christ until we see Him face to face.
If we call, Jesus Christ will indeed answer. Peter did not have time to give an impressive speech. He did not use fancy words or impress God with his knowledge. He only uttered 3 words: “Lord, save me” and it was done. The impossible became possible. Death was defeated. The Grave would not have another life that day. Jesus Christ, the image of the invisible God, the Messiah, the Savior, standing on the water, pulled Peter to safety and then calmed the storm so all of His followers on that ship were saved. And so shall He do for you, when you humble cry to your Lord in prayer.
As for me, I will call upon God; and the Lord shall save me. – Psalm 55:16.