Theme: Peter’s Walk
This week we see how to turn failing faith to robust faith.
And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
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).
I said earlier this week that Peter’s walking to Jesus on the water is a good illustration of the trusting nature of true faith. But it is also a good illustration of true but faltering faith, which is what the faith of most of us is like. If Peter had no true faith at all, his act of getting out of the boat would have been mere foolishness or bravado, and when he began to sink he would have started to flail his arms about desperately trying to get back into the boat himself. He would not have cried out to Jesus again. That he did cry out is proof that he really did trust Jesus. On the other hand, his faith was weakened by the waves, just as our faith is often undermined by difficult circumstances or by tragedies in life. When Jesus rebuked him it was not for having no faith at all but for having little faith. “You of little faith,” Jesus said, “why did you doubt?” (v. 31).
Previously I disagreed with Spurgeon, believing that Peter’s attempt to walk to Jesus was a bold but proper act. Spurgeon thought Peter was wrong to do it. Yet Spurgeon said something else with which I agree entirely. He said that “Peter was nearer his Lord when he was sinking than when he was walking.1 ” Have you ever thought of that? It was when Peter was in trouble that he was driven to Jesus and was closest to him.
It is exactly the same with us, and it is why Jesus permits storms to come into our lives too. As long as life is going along smoothly we may be genuinely trusting Jesus for our salvation as true Christians, but our faith can be somewhat distant, abstract or even peripheral. We trust Jesus, true enough. But if the truth be told we also trust ourselves and our abilities. We may even trust ourselves more than we trust Jesus. Let trouble come, and suddenly we are confronted with our own lack of ability and weakness, and we are driven to Jesus simply because we have nowhere else to turn. It is in times like these that faith in Jesus Christ grows strong.
1 C.H. Spurgeon, The Gospel of the Kingdom: A Popular Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Pasadena, Tex: Pilgrim Publications, 1974), p. 118.
Did Peter’s faith fail?
Let trouble come, and suddenly we are confronted with our own lack of ability and weakness, and we are driven to Jesus simply because we have nowhere else to turn. It is in times like these that faith in Jesus Christ grows strong.
When has a difficult circumstance weakened your faith? Did the trouble later bring you closer to God?
Pray that you may become strong in the Lord, in good times and bad.