Mark 6:45-51 NLT
Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida, while he sent the people home. After telling everyone good-bye, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Late that night, the disciples were in their boat in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land. He saw that they were in serious trouble, rowing hard and struggling against the wind and waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. He intended to go past them, but when they saw him walking on the water, they cried out in terror, thinking he was a ghost. They were all terrified when they saw him. But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage! I am here!” Then he climbed into the boat, and the wind stopped. They were totally amazed.
In Matthew, we have Peter getting out of the boat.
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?”
This story begins right after they have seen the miracle of the loaves and fish. So, as I look at this unfold I have to keep in mind that they have had a long day of doing ministry. They are tired, and yet emotionally charged. They have heard incredible teaching and seen the power of God displayed before their eyes. As they row through the night they really are not even able to rest from the already full day that they have had. So, I personally come at this story from the perspective of some very tired and weary bodies. Men who want rest, not to have to endure and fight against stormy waters. Why couldn’t tonight be peaceful and calm? After all, they had been doing good works all day. Wouldn’t it be nice if life worked that way. However, I find it is often when I am tired and feel like I need rest that often the winds pick up.
So, I feel for these guys in the boat. I empathize with their longing for rest and to just get to the place Jesus told them to go, without interruption. I know when I am tired that I don’t process and filter things the same way. Area’s that I might be strong at normally, when I am tired, I can seem to be the opposite. I can overreact to situations. For example, if someone came to me in a normal situation and vocalized words that could potentially be wounding. I often work that out very differently in my heart when I am tired verses when I am well rested. When I am exhausted, I can decide life is too big and too hard. When I am rested I can look at life and assess things much differently. So, I see a group of exhausted men who have some great victories from the previous day, but just want rest as they head in a certain direction. However, instead they are forced to deal with another storm.
I understand their frustration. I understand their overreaction to Jesus coming on the water. I understand their fear. I have been in that boat.
Then Peter does the unthinkable. Who would even think about walking on water just because Jesus did? I am not sure my mind would have gone there, but it has in other ways. I can relate to the question, “If it is you, tell me to come”. I have many times wondered if things were God and wanted Him to speak something directly to my heart. Yet, when he has, I have sometimes lost faith. I want to be a risk taker, someone who gets out of the boat, someone who is not afraid of the storms, but when the water hits me in the face, my fears overtake my boldness. I am like Peter. Even tired, he wants more. He wants to not just see it happen, but to be a part of it. He wants it to be personal. This is the part of Peter I do understand. I am not satisfied to hear that Jesus did something, I want to join Him in what He is doing. I want to step out in the places he is walking and live like I really believe he is who he says he is.
This will require getting out of the place of safety. This will require letting the spirit rule, not the flesh. This will require risk and trust. This will mean impossible becomes possible. What could getting out of the boat look like applied to our lives?