He Walked On The Water
Pr Edi Giudetti
We live today in difficult times the world over. This time in history is unique in so much that all people are struggling with fears about what tomorrow will bring. Added to that we have our own difficulties and struggles.
Relationships are usually the source of our woes. There seems to be nothing else that gives us greater anxiety or sadness than broken or difficult relationships. Equally so, there seems to be nothing that brings us greater happiness and joy than good and loving relationships.
But there is one relationship that seems to govern them all, a relationship with one person that, if this is right, all other relationships will be right.
It is that relationship with Jesus Christ.
How many of us have recently said, “I don’t know how people are dealing with the current times without Jesus?”. We say this because we know the comfort he brings and the hope he infuses within us. We say this because our relationship with the Lord is strong, he has our complete attention and has had it for some time, but what happens to our state of heart when we turn our affection and focus away from the Lord?
What happens when the focus is turned from Christ directly to the problems we are surrounded by?
We find ourselves miserable and them look for the source of that misery to appoint blame. Perhaps its people, perhaps it’s simply our circumstances, but is that really the true source of the problem?
When history records this incredible event none of us have any question as to whom it alludes.
To know that God can walk on water is indeed a certainty, in Jeremiah he records for all posterity to know, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?” (Jer 32:27), certainly walking on the water is not too hard for the Lord.
It was indeed written about in ancient times that he would physically do this, in the book of Job he records the power of God and wrote of him saying “Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waves of the sea.” (Job 9:8)
Through history we have exalted men and equated them with God, saying even in common conversation that “he walks on water”.
In modern times popular media journals and news items have also equated politicians with deity, depicting them photographically “walking on Water”, Barack Obama and Emanuel Macron (French President) are two recent examples.
The world held them in such high regard as able to do anything, even to ‘walk on water!’
The point is that the world seems comfortable in the acknowledging of Christ, “God… manifest in the flesh” according to 1 Tim 3:16, as walking on water, as treading upon the waves of the sea, but what if there was a mere man doing so?
“Impossible” would be the cry.
Yes beloved, we know that what is impossible with man is possible with God. Remember that Jesus himself said this respecting the attainment of the kingdom of God for the rich of this world?
He said, “For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle’s eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (Luke 18:26), and when the disciples followed that up with the wonder of who then can be saved, Jesus is recorded to say “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God”.
But to walk on water?
The recording of history cannot be doubted on this matter, the Bible is plain to teach that Peter, a mere man, did indeed walk on the water.
“He walked on The Water”, is the Title of this morning’s sermon, and it is lifted directly out of the Bible, the pronoun “He” does not refer to Christ as we already know Jesus came to them “walking on the sea”.
It was Peter who said “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
Peter walked on water. History speaks of two people who physically walked on water. Jesus Christ and Peter, his disciple.
But he did not stay on the water long.
And He Said, Come.
Let’s set the scene to ensure the context remains before us.
Earlier that Day Jesus had been told that John the Baptist had been beheaded by King Herod.
When he heard the news of it he departed on his own by Ship to a desert place to be alone, but when the people heard of his departure they followed after him out of the cities by foot.
Jesus had seen the multitude, had compassion on them, healed their sick and the evening was drawing near.
The disciples encouraged the Lord to send them away so they can get food for themselves. But jesus said there was no need for them to leave, and it was there that Jesus multiplied fives loaves of bread and two fishes to feed a multitude of people that included five thousand men, beside the women and the Children.
Yet twelve baskets of food remained after they had all had their fill.
The passage then goes on to say that Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.
To constrain historically means to force, or to compel or oblige, it is Latin in origin and is a compound word; ‘Con’ means ‘with’, or ‘together’, while “Stringe” means to tie tightly or to compress or draw tightly.
The Bible uses the meaning historically in other passages also,
- Lydia, a seller of Purple, Constrained Paul and Luke to abide at her house in Acts 16.
- Paul was “Constrained to appeal unto Caesar” in Acts 28
- Paul rebuked the faithlessness of the Galatians because the Jews would “Constrain them to be circumcised” to avoid persecution for the cross of Christ (Gal 6)
Here, Jesus compels the disciples to go it alone before him to the other side of the sea of Galilee to Gennesaret, or modern day Ginosar.
The Gospel of John records this event with the people quite astonished to see Jesus on this shore with his disciples, they remember that Jesus was not with them when they left and there was no other boat there, so they asked him saying “Rabbi, when camest thou hither?” (John 6:25).
But was that the most incredible thing that happened that night?
Let’s take our text from Matthew 14:22
22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. 23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. 27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. 28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29 And he said, Come….
When the heart of a man, a woman, a child desires the Lord and nothing but the Lord and to do his will and to follow him wherever he goes and can see nothing else but Christ before his eyes, and desires to do nothing else but to please the Lord and to give up his life and to live only for the Lord, all he needs is to ask him…. bid me come unto thee on the water and he will say “Come”.
Come to where I am
Come to me and be here with me;
Do not concern yourself with the troubled waters around you, simply “Come”.
Let the waters do what they will, have your sight fixed on that which you desire more than life itself and “Come”.
And he said, Come….
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Mt 11:26)
It does not matter how heavy laden you are, “bid me come unto thee on the water” and he will say “come”.
It’s difficult to find a more impulsive person than Peter in the Bible. He doesn’t think first, he just does it. Many times, he has placed his foot squarely into his own mouth “not knowing what he said”, “Bid me come unto thee on the water”.
He did not stop to think that this is Jesus the Son of God, ‘of course HE can walk on water, but not a man like me!’
Peter didn’t consult with the other disciples in the ship whether he should ask the Lord, he didn’t look for the counsel of others to see if the notion had merit, he just asked the Lord to “Bid me come unto thee on the water”.
And he said, Come….
The times we live in today are unprecedented in history past. Governments around the world are declaring laws with one voice and the people are constrained to OBEY them irrespective of consequence.
We are in a ship tossed with waves and the wind is contrary.
What seems on the surface to be a world of trouble, is to Jesus a casual evening walk.
Marks account of this event says he “would have passed by them” (Mrk 6:48). Jesus fully expected to see them on the other side.
So too it is beloved with our lives today: Jesus said “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16:33).
Even in the midst of a boisterous sea with winds contrary, do not think to yourself that a heart focused upon Christ cannot raise you above it all; you need only ask “Bid me come unto thee on the water”.
And he said, Come….
He Walked On The Water.
25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. 27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. 28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
Perhaps it’s is because of verse 30 that we often get the impression that Peter was ignorant of the nature of the sea and he somehow leapt in and found a firmament that can hold him.
But the text is careful for us to know what Peter and the other disciples were physically experiencing;
The ship was “tossed with waves” it says in verse 24.
Marks Gospel account tells us that Jesus “saw them toiling in rowing” (Mrk 6:48)
Johns account in Jn 6:18-19 states that “the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew” and they rowed through this sea “about five and twenty or thirty furlongs”. Taking the middle measurement, that’s about 6km of rowing a ship “tossed with waves”.
Beloved I am quite certain that Peter was well aware of the turbulence of the sea before he was come down out of the ship, and he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
Even in the midst of fighting to get through a turbulent sea, no doubt exhausted by the effort, when Peter was presented with the calmness of Christ walking upon the sea, his desire was walk to him and with him.
The book of Hebrews tells us that there remains “a rest to the people of God” (Heb 4:9). The context is that there is no more work to undertake for the greatest effort of all and that is the salvation of our souls.
The wind was contrary to the disciples and they rowed against it with all difficulty, our own flesh and sin nature is against us and we cannot save ourselves.
We have trusted in Christ for the greatest work of all, the salvation of our souls, can we not trust him for the blessing of our lives?
“He walked on water”, those words don’t speak of Jesus, its Peter!
“He walked on water”
In the midst of a wind-swept turbulent sea, Peter came down out of a ship tossed with the waves and “he walked on water to go to Jesus”.
Please tell me beloved, what trouble are you experiencing in your life that the calm walk of Christ can’t get you through?
Peter came “out of the ship” to walk on water to Christ.
Peter had worked hard to have a worldly vessel get him through the tough times, but that left him exhausted, surely the rest he can see in Jesus is the better option!
No worldly vessel, no “Self-help book”, no “Podcast”, no “magazine article”, no “Netflix clip”, no “drug”, no “girlfriend, boyfriend, wife or husband” can give you rest from battling the troubled waters you are navigating; this passage tells us plainly that it is ONLY the singular joy, hope, devotion and attention on Jesus Christ that can have you “Walk on water”.
I guess what might give us even greater confidence is knowing that it is those who have the greater turmoil, trouble and sin that Jesus specifically came to bring peace, comfort and life.
Turn to Luke chapter 4:18
18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
It was an ancient prophecy that Jesus claims to be the fulfillment of.
Notice that there is no mention of any benefit to those who have no need!
Jesus himself said in Matthew 9:12 “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.”
David cried to the Lord for mercy because he was weak (Ps 6:2), he was content to walk through the valley of Death knowing the Lord was with him (Ps 23), He knew the Lord was his light and his salvation, his strength and his life (Ps 27).
Beloved, it is this God of the Old Testament who is the comforter of the New.
It is Christ who shall wipe every tear and dry every eye.
He is why Peter “walked on water”
He is how you have comfort, peace and even Joy all the while you go through a life that seems to come against you.
28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, …
How quickly we turn from faith to faithless!
We see how wonderfully the Lord has delivered us for so much trouble, how he has given to us all that we need, how, in the midst of difficulty we see him again walking on the waves of the sea and we cry out to him “Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.”
And he says “Come”.
Nothing fills our hearts with greater joy than when in the midst of all our trials and tribulations we feel like we are walking above it all. We have the joy and the comfort of the Lord, we sing the songs of praise and even find ourselves looking at others going through their trials encouraging them also to take a step out of the ship and walk on the water with you to Jesus.
You could almost imagine Peter looking at the disciples being tossed about and saying, “Come on guys!”.
I don’t like that word.
It’s almost as bad as the word “if”.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink,
How quickly does our faith turn to faithlessness?
It seems often to take no time at all. How does it happen? How does our joy turn to sadness so quickly? How can I be walking on water one minute and sinking the next?
It might be on interest to consider that when we borrow money and have all the means to repay the debt, we feel like we are doing very well indeed, walking above it all, and yet when the circumstances change and debt overwhelms us, the term ‘being underwater the loan’ is employed in finance.
Perhaps it’s a coincidence.
The question is why does it happen?
The answer is in the text;
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink,
Its really not that difficult is it? We know this by the very experience of life itself. You simply can’t hit a target you are not focussed upon.
“Keep your eye on the ball” is probably the most common phrase in sporting instruction.
If you play Golf, a split second your eye is lifted off the ball, changes the trajectory of the ball.
In tennis the same;
In football, netball, squash and even in billiards.
The incredible potential of the greatest prise is lost when our focus has moved from their target. Your desire might be good, but when your focus changes so too does the result.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous
Peter had heart and head directed and employed ONLY on his Lord, his desire was ‘Good’ 30 But when he saw the wind boisterous…. When focus shifted from his Christ to his condition, so too the state of the heart.
Beloved, Peters circumstances had not changed, he was in the same turbulent waters that he knew were surrounding him, he knew them well even before he had forsaken his worldly vessel for Jesus, what changed was the focus of his trust and thereby the inclination of his heart.
Peter went from confidence and joy, trusting in the peace that passes all understanding, to the fear of his circumstances.
Anxiety filled his heart, the idea that he would soon be underwater filled him with a dread that previously disappeared while he trusted Christ.
What a terrible word to see in this context!
Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water
Isaiah had seen the Lord high and lifted up, after he was cleansed by the God knowing God had a work he searched for someone to undertake, Isiah cried out saying “Here am I, send me”.
Whatever work it is that you are to do for the Lord, know this and let it sink down deep into your ears, there will be times he will bid you to come unto him on the water!
There will be times when nothing but trusting in Christ will suffice to do the work he has called you to do.
It will be those times that will stand you in good stead for ever greater events ahead.
BUT! It is when we take our attention from the Lord and place it upon our circumstances, we too will begin to sink.
Jesus said “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)
There are Christians today who once trusted in the Lord for their very souls but seem to look to the world to save them.
They once believed in the infinite, unchangeable, righteous God for everlasting life, but “Looking back” like Lots wife, they see the winds boisterous and turn again to the temporary, everchanging, deceitful world for hope in this life.
Peter walked on water BUT!
He looked away and looked back, and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. 31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
O my, there is one thing above all that I rejoice in so much, and that is that through all my faults, faithlessness and falls when I begin to sink and cry out “Lord, save me” “immediately Jesus stretches forth his hand”.
No time of consolation or contemplation.
No appointment for whenever he sees fit to be available
IMMEDIATELY JESUS stretches forth his hand.
And when I see that hand still pierced, I remember with both shame and joy the extent he has gone to gain my trust.
What more do we need to quench our doubt?
Immediately he stretched forth his hand and caught him.
When your desires is to be saved by the Lord, when you heart believes the Gospel and you aks the Lord to save you, is there an elongated process until it is attended to? NO! Immediately Jesus stretches forth his hand.
When faith turns to faithlessness and you see it for what it is, does your turning back to the Lord and crying out to him take days and weeks? Does your feeling far from him disannul his words saying “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee”? (Heb 13:5).
When the sin that so easily besets you, grieves you to the core and you ask for the Lord forgiveness, does he take time to forgive you? Hours, days, weeks etc? NO!
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
You are not forgiven when you feel forgiven, the grief you feel for sin may remain for a time but there is nothing in the bible that teaches anything other than Immediately Jesus stretching forth his hand to save you.
Beloved there is something that these passages assures us of. It seems certain that all the lessons and applications that can be drawn from this text boils down to two.
- That when our focus is on Christ alone, the problems that surround us go on unnoticed.
- That when our focus is turned from Christ, we sink in them and our own weight hastens our fall.
How do we attend to it practically?
Let’s first begin with how to continue living in fear and anxiety burdened by the troubles we are in and those to come.
- Don’t change anything!
- Ensure your relationship with the Lord is as far from him as it is now.
- Continue in all the distractive, destructive diversions you now entertain yourself in.
- Keep believing things will get better, that tomorrow will be as today but more prosperous.
- That this life is all about you.
- That if you only row a little harder and get your wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, son, daughter etc to help, you can bring this ship to shore in spite of the wind that is contrary.
If you are willing to continue in all those five things;
- Your distant relationship to Christ.
- Your distractions
- Your aspirations
- Your self-interest
- Your Efforts
Nothing will change.
Beloved the surest way for nothing to change, is to change nothing.