After Jesus had rescued Peter the two of them climbed into the boat and the wind died down. That was impressive in itself. A similar effect had caused the disciples to react with awe on an earlier occasion (Matt. 8:23-27). But this is not the climax of the story in Matthew 14. The climax here is not the stilling of the waves or even Jesus' earlier words to Peter; "You of little faith, why did you doubt?” The climax is the disciples' confession of faith in Jesus and worship of Jesus in verse 33: “Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, ’Truly you are the Son of God.

The Jews were not seafaring people. So there are not many stories in the Bible about their being in peril on the sea. But I think of one! It is the story of Jonah, who tried to run away from the Lord by taking a ship from Joppa to sail to Tarshish on the far side of the Mediterranean. He was not acting in faith, as Peter was. He was defiantly disobedient. But when God sent the great storm that threatened to sink the ship in which he was sailing and when the sailors finally threw him overboard to drown, which he had told them to do, it was when he was sinking down to bottom of the sea forever and was swallowed by the great fish that Jonah turned to God again in prayer and found salvation. Jonah wrote,

When Peter looked about him and became aware of the fierce wind and saw the rolling waves he became afraid and began to sink. His faith faltered at this point. But it is important to recognize that Peter's faith did not fail utterly. He had lost faith in Jesus' ability to bear him up over the water, but he still trusted Jesus at some level since he immediately called out to him for help. "Lord, save me," he said (v. 30).

As the disciples struggled to row across the lake through the storm, Jesus must have seen what was happening from the mountain. He did not need some supernatural insight to know this. But Jesus did exercise his divine power when he went to them walking over the waves. The disciples were terrified when they saw him. They thought they were seeing a ghost, but their fear would not only have been because of that. Most likely they took the apparition for an omen warning them that they were all doomed men. They must have supposed that they were going to drown.

In the last study I said that Matthew 14-16 is characterized by three important themes: 1) Jesus' private teaching of the twelve disciples, 2) repeated failures on the disciples' part to understand or respond to Jesus’ teaching, and 3) some small glimmerings of true faith and growth. We saw Jesus teaching the disciples in the account of the feeding of the five thousand. When he told the disciples to feed the people he was obviously intending to impress upon them that they could do nothing, and when he then fed the masses from five small loaves of bread and two fish he was imparting a lesson about his own utter sufficiency. When Jesus used the disciples to distribute the food to the people he was teaching them their role as messengers. They had nothing to offer, but hey would become bearers of the bread of life to those who were starving spiritually.