Red Letter Year: 4/23

Matthew 14:22-36

22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there alone.

24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”

27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”

28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”

Only one walking on the water. The rest are unwilling to risk.

29 “Come on,” Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”

32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

34 After they had crossed the lake, they landed at Gennesaret. 35 When the people recognized Jesus, the news of his arrival spread quickly throughout the whole area, and soon people were bringing all their sick to be healed. 36 They begged him to let the sick touch at least the fringe of his robe, and all who touched him were healed.


A few things to note in today’s passage:

  • Jesus spends time alone with God. I heard a talk the other day that encouraged us with something he read from Gustavo Gutierrez: we need “to waste time with God.” Jesus took time after the big meal to be alone with God, pray, and reflect. Seems like a good practice to me too.
  •  John Calvin read the story of Peter walking on the water as a negative example, one that teaches us to know our limits and not be arrogant. But I don’t think this story teaches that at all. Jesus does not rebuke Peter. He enthusiastically tells him to come on. If anything, it shows Peter’s love for Jesus, his trust in Jesus, and his willingness to risk. All good things.
  • Peter gets scared first and then begins to sink (not the other way around). We know that the Lord has not given us a spirit of fear. We should also know that nothing good comes from fear. Fear is the work of our enemy.
  • Peter had little faith, but he still had a good deal more than the others who stayed in the boat. Calvin got it wrong. Jesus doesn’t call us to play it safe and stay in the boat, fully aware of our limits. Jesus calls us to get out of the boat because it is not about our limits, it is about Jesus and his utter lack of limits. Peter walked on water because of Jesus’ power. That same power works through us when love, trust, and risk for Jesus.

Get out of the boat!!!

New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.