Today's Lectionary Text
Right then, Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead to the other side of the lake while he dismissed the crowds. When he sent them away, he went up onto a mountain by himself to pray. Evening came and he was alone. Meanwhile, the boat, fighting a strong headwind, was being battered by the waves and was already far away from land. Very early in the morning he came to his disciples, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified and said, “It’s a ghost!” They were so frightened they screamed.
Just then Jesus spoke to them, “Be encouraged! It’s me. Don’t be afraid.” Peter replied, “Lord, if it’s you, order me to come to you on the water.” And Jesus said, “Come.”
Then Peter got out of the boat and was walking on the water toward Jesus. But when Peter saw the strong wind, he became frightened. As he began to sink, he shouted, “Lord, rescue me!”
Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him, saying, “You man of weak faith! Why did you begin to have doubts?” When they got into the boat, the wind settled down.
Then those in the boat worshipped Jesus and said, “You must be God’s Son!”
I remember when both of our children started to walk. They sometimes would pull themselves up on a table or chair and start to take choppy steps across the carpet without the assistance or close, watchful eyes of their mom or dad. In both cases, they would take two, three or even four steps before realizing they no longer had the safety of furniture within an arm’s length.
They no longer had faith in this spontaneous decision to venture from their safe position. They each paused, looked around and then free-fell onto their padded diapers.
This sequence replayed itself until those choppy steps were a little more fluid, each step showing just a little more confidence than the one prior to it.
Peter has his own “choppy steps” moment in today’s text. Jesus is rejoining His disciples after spending time alone in prayer. They are piloting a boat on some choppy waters of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus walks to them on the water, and after realizing the “ghost” on the water is Jesus, Peter ventures out of the boat to meet Him.
Peter takes those first few, confident steps and then realizes he is no longer an arm’s length from the relative safety of the boat. He starts to sink.
We can be critical of Peter, but if we’re honest with ourselves we’ve probably done something similar — even if it’s metaphorical. We start to follow God’s call in our lives, and maybe we even climb out of the boat. But something comes up — a hardship, an obstacle, an unforeseen circumstance — that causes us to doubt the faith that got us out onto the water in the first place.
Jesus probably says to us the same thing he says to Peter: “You of weak faith! Why did you begin to have doubts?”
Do you know your answer?
Regardless of how you would respond, the good news is Jesus didn’t give up on Peter, and He doesn’t give up on us. Just two chapters later in Matthew, Jesus declares that it will be Peter who will build the church, the extended family of believers in the Risen Christ.
As kids, my daughter and son may have plopped down to the floor while learning to walk. But those steps eventually became sturdy. And both of them eventually learned to run and jump and, yes, swim.
Peter regained confidence by remembering amid the storm that he served the Son of God. We should do the same whenever we feel we are starting to sink.
— Todd Seifert, director of communications
Note: The name of the author of Friday's daily devotion was inadvertently omitted from the daily email. Dianne Tombaugh.
Prayer for Reflection
Gracious God, give us the steadiness of steps in our faith as we continually walk toward you. Amid the storms of life, help us to remember that we serve the Risen Christ, the One who continually calms the rough waters of our lives.
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