“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said.
- Matthew 14:28, 29 (NIV)
There has been many times in my life where I have thought to myself “God if this is you, show me” or “let me know” or “show me a sign” or “make it obvious to me” etc. Most of the time it hinges on God doing something. God if this is you… I need you to do _(fill in the blank)_ to let me know. What does that tell me about myself? I don’t know God enough and I don’t believe fully that he can do “all things” through me. If I did… I would be more like Peter. I would say “God, even though my sight of you is vague, I know your voice… and I know that I can accomplish the impossible with you.. so if this you.. tell me to come to you.” Then, like Peter, I would actually have the boldness to go for it.
Matthew says the disciples were rowed out a “considerable distance.” John says “three or three and a half miles.” Mark says “the boat was in the middle of the lake.” The disciples had gone out, without Jesus, on rough waters, battling the waves in a row boat… and we find them right smack in the middle of the lake. As far from either shore as possible. Neither here nor there. Stuck in the middle of nowhere.
Mark 6:48-49 says “He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out because they all saw him and were terrified.”
Jesus saw them struggling. It doesn’t say how long he let them struggle but we at least know He allowed them to for a little bit. Then, when the time was right, he “went out to them.” Funny thing about the Mark account.. it says Jesus was about to pass them by. But I thought he was going out to aid them?! Well, he was going out to be with them… which results in the aid. But he was about to pass them by?!
“But when they saw him.” He wanted to be seen. He wanted them to take notice. To realize they needed help and to see it coming.
God will come to us when we need him. However he might not be waving banners, flashing neon lights or screaming for our attention. He will likely come in the most unexpected way, half hidden by wind and waves, and cloaked in the chaos of a storm. To see him, we have to be looking. Jesus WILL come when we need him, but it IS possible for us to miss him.
After they saw him it says they were terrified. Sometimes the way God reveals himself to us can be scary. Maybe not haunted house scary but scary nonetheless. When God shows himself we often end up either experiencing change, finding things out about ourselves that we don’t like or being told to follow him somewhere we don’t understand. All pretty terrifying.
Luckily he says “take courage, it is I. Do not be afraid.” So basically “hey, it’s me.. I got this.”
Then, Peter tests both Jesus and himself. He proves that it is indeed Jesus while simultaneously proving to himself that nothing is impossible with Jesus. “If its you, tell me to come to you.” Jesus could have just climbed in the boat and said “tadaaa!” But he only got close enough to the boat for the disciples to barely see him and for Peter to be courageous enough to come to him.
Jesus comes to us often expecting us to meet him. He will come just close enough for us to vaguely see him there. But we will have to step out and meet him. Which requires faith and courage. The key thing here is after Jesus said “come”.. Peter actually went.
We cant just camp out in fear and uncertainty and expect God to jump in the boat with us and save the day. He has to first be acknowledged.. then he must be pursued. Why is it so hard to do the pursuit part? Cuz he walks on the dad gum water during crazy storms! He doesn’t make it much of a habit to hang out in fields of flowers and call us to lay with him on a pillow top mattress. How much would we have to trust him to do that?! He wants us to rely fully on him. Which means we first must be helpless, broken, lost, confused, uncomfortable, etc etc.
Peter of course doubted and started to sink. Jesus immediately saves him and they climb into the boat. After that, the winds died down and according to John 6:21, “immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.” They were in the middle of a 6 or 7 mile wide lake, during a crazy storm. The minute Jesus steps foot inside the boat, the wind stops and they miraculously reach their destination on the other side. It just took recognition, boldness and faith (from Peter) to go out and meet him.