25 During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw Him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. 27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” 28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” He said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came towards Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” He said, “why did you doubt?” 32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshipped Him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:23-33)
Here Jesus walks on water – He treads on the abyss. But Peter walks as Jesus walks (cf 1 John 2:6). How?
Notice he doesn’t just step out. He asks for Jesus to command him. He’s been in a storm with Jesus before (Matt 8:23-27). Peter knows the power of Jesus’ word – His word is obeyed! So Peter wants a word from Jesus to command him. And the word is powerful to enable that which it commands (Jesus’ word is like that). Peter does the impossible because Jesus commands it.
Of course he sinks (looking at the waves and not looking at Christ). But in His grace, Peter only ‘begins’ to sink. This is not gravity acting on Peter or he’d sink like a stone. How slowly Jesus lets him down! But when Peter calls out, ‘immediately’ Jesus saves.
His words of rebuke tell us how we can walk like Jesus: ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ Now what is Jesus referring to here?
Peter did not doubt that Jesus could walk on water. And it wasn’t self-belief that Jesus was recommending (Peter has no ability to walk on water!). Peter’s problem was that he doubted Jesus’ word to him. He doubted the word which both commands and enables what it commands. Peter doubted that he truly had been made into the person Jesus said He had – one who walks like He walks. That was Peter’s problem.
When Christ speaks a word to us then trusting Him involves trusting that we are the people Christ says we’ve become. Jesus says to you:
“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” (John 5:24)
So, don’t look at the wind and waves. Don’t look at your heart and your abilities. Trust the word that Jesus has spoken to you. His word is powerful to make you who He says you are. You can’t make yourself into this person, but neither can anyone or anything else prevent you from being it. The word of the LORD is supreme, you can trust Him. You will not be condemned. You have crossed over from death to life. And now, you can walk as He walked.