The account of Jesus walking on water of course contains the series of events where Peter gets out of the boat and proceeds to try to walk on water. Of course, he succeeds while he keeps his eyes on Jesus. When he takes his eyes off of Christ, he falls.
But this episode is not about the strength of Peter's faith rather it is about the strength of Christ. The passage is not teaching us what we can do under Christ, rather it is teaching us how desperate we are without Christ and how mighty he is to save--as Peter has nothing left but desperation out of which he calls out to Christ.
Here are some applications from my sermon this past Sunday:
If Jesus is God’s Son He is mighty to save no matter how desperate you are.
1. This passage isn’t so much about how much we can accomplish if we just look at Jesus. This is about how much Jesus accomplishes despite who we are. It is about the excellency and majesty of Jesus not about Peter’s ability to get out of the boat. Jesus commands Peter to take courage. Peter takes courage and gets out of the boat. Peter doesn’t sustain his courage--but Jesus still grips Peter.
It is not about how much God can use us if we just have a leap of faith (get out of the boat).
It is about how mighty Christ is. It is about how Christ grabs us when He saves sinners.
It is about Peter’s desperation, crying out of a Savior. --maybe you are desperate. You feel it; you know it. But you are so desperate, you think that maybe Christ won’t even regard you if you cry out.
This passage is about Christ who is both mighty to save and compassionate to save in our greatest hour of need.
2. No matter how desperate you are Christ is both mighty to save and compassionate to save. NO LEVEL OF DESPERATION IS BEYOND CHRIST’S COMPASSION.
Jonathan Edwards’ in a sermon “The Excellency of Christ” asks this question: “What are you afraid of, that you dare not venture your soul upon Christ? Are you afraid that he can’t save you, that he is not strong enough to conquer the enemies of your soul? But how can you desire one strong than the ‘Mighty God”? as Christ is called in Isaiah 9:6.
In our passage: he walks on water, the storm and winds obey him, touching his robs gets people healed.
How can you not want one who is so strong he uphold creation.
Are you afraid that Christ won’t have mercy on you? Are you afraid that you are so wicked and so wretched that Christ cannot get down low enough to grab you? Are you afraid that you have done something so horribly Christ will not want to save you?
Peter of all the silly things he could do, wants to get out of the boat. Then when he does get out of the boat he takes his eyes off of Jesus. He is like the little child who daringly is learning to walk--stepping away from support and balance--only to look all around and not at the parent whose arms are opened wide.
Peter is desperate. Very desperate. Yet Christ is mighty to save. Jesus grabs Peter. There is not even a hint on condescension--a sort of “well now you learned your lesson”.
Of course Peter had little faith, he doubted. Jesus points that out. But Jesus still grabs Him in His most desperate moment.
One of the saddest spiritual ironies is that we sometimes think that if we are too desperate we are unqualified to be saved. This is particularly true of a Christian who finds himself struggling again back under some sin. --we think that because we were given a second chance and “we blew it” --Christ won’t have compassion. HE WILL!
3. How much faith is enough? How much do I have to believe in Him? How much do I have to rely on Him to have him clutch me? We all go through times were our faith struggles--we are like someone wobbling with our knees about to buckle. We know we are weak. We begin to wonder: is God not answering me because I am not strong enough? Maybe in despair we cry: “Oh my faith is so weak.”
It is the object of our faith that saves us not our ability to hold on to Him. We just Jesus and He grabs us.
Notice that Peter does doubt, He does have a weak faith. He sinks--but Christ still grabs Him.
Christ is so merciful and gracious a Savior that he we are weak and struggling in our faith He grabs us. He strengthens us. He lifts us up.
Christ builds our faith and does not rely on us to build our own faith up to get to Him.
The father who has a demoniac son, is told to believe in Jesus.
Mark 9:23 And Jesus said to him, “ ‘If You can?’ All things are possible to him who believes.” 24 Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”
4. The sinner who finds himself/herself wallowing in sin and despair. Enslaved. Entrapped. A weight upon their soul... if they just turn to Jesus and cry out in utter desperation: “Lord, save me!” You will find mercy. You will find Jesus mighty to grab you and lift away the guilt of sin. He will free you from enslavement.
Find Christ as precious. He is Mighty--GOD THE SON; He is tender, compassionate, “God with us” who stoops to grab people and save them.
Even a child of God wobbling in doubt, struggling to find God as real, wondering if God is still there--they will find the Lord Jesus mighty and compassionate to save. He will buoy you up from whatever despair is starting to entangle you. Trust Him.
Your struggle and your sins, no matter how great or how small, cannot throw you beyond the ability of Christ to save. Your struggle and your sins, no matter how great or small, cannot cast you outside of the depth to which he will reach down to grab you.
5. Your faith will not save you. Only Christ will save you. Look to him. Peter doubted. Peter had little faith. Peter was not strong--he did not have a ‘worthy faith’ as if his ability to trust earned him a right. Peter did not deserve salvation and deliverance. Peter’s only qualification was that He need Jesus at that moment. Consider later in Peter's life his lack of faith led him even to deny Christ--yet Christ who is mighty to save restored Peter because Christ has great grace and mercy upon the needy and desperate.
No matter what your going through right now: maybe you only qualification is your great need.
Look to Jesus. Trust Jesus. Believe in Him. He is mighty to save and He delights in rescuing those who have nothing but desperation.