Every male coming into the world will become a man, if he lasts long enough. But sometime along the way he should stop and ask, “What kind of man do I want to become?”
“Quit you like men” is how the old version of I Corinthians 16:13 reads. Modern translations has it saying: “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong….”
Be a real man.
Be a man like Jesus.
He went up to the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone (Matthew 14:23).
Our text is the 14th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel. In this passage, we have several stark contrasts in manhood. We have King Herod Agrippa, we have the Lord Jesus Christ, and we have a disciple named Simon Peter.
Take a look at them…
Herod Agrippa. 10 BC to AD 44.
Agrippa might be considered the poster child for a few zillion men in our culture.
He was rich. He was powerful. He was famous. He had glory, power, position, all the pleasures he could imagine, all the things to satisfy his appetites.
That’s the life, right? It is to a great part of our world.
They flock to the casinos, play the lottery, and enter Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes for one purpose and one only: To get rich.
They watch shows like ‘American Idol’ and ‘America Has Talent’ and dream of winning fame. “If I could just be famous,” they think.
They run for office and indulge their ambitions with one huge goal in mind: To get power. To have millions of people know their names and to rule over them. As governor, senator, or even more.
Herod had riches, fame, and power.
And he was miserable.
The man had no peace. He was racked by guilt. His conscience ate at him as he thought of John the Baptist whom he had put to death unfairly. In fact, he was sure that the reports he was hearing of Jesus were actually John returned from the grave. Even this man believed in zombies!
This rich, famous, powerful man lived in fear. Matthew 14:5 says he feared his people. Most dictators do that very same thing. Agrippa feared the people he was ruling, those he was leading, and those he was using.
He was driven by his own insecurities. (His comeuppance is recorded in Acts 12, but we are not looking at that here.)
The Lord Jesus Christ. The Man unlike all other men.
“When He saw a great multitude, He felt compassion for them and healed their sick” (14:14). A man of compassion.
And when they were hungry, “He blessed the food and…gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave to the multitudes, and they all ate, and were satisfied” (14:19-20). A man of miracles.
“And after He sent the multitudes away, He went up to the mountain by Himself to pray, and when it was evening, He was there alone” (14:23). A man of prayer.
A storm arose, the sea was angry, and the boat with the disciples was tossed about. “And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea.” (14:25). A man of great power.
“Take courage,” Jesus called to them. “It is I. Do not be afraid” (14:27).
“Those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, ‘You are certainly God’s Son” (14:33). A man who received worship.
Never a man spoke like this man, people said of Him. Surely this was the Son of God, they said. This Man alone is worthy of all worship.
Simon Peter. The only disciple to dare.
“Peter said, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to you on the water!’ And He said, ‘Come.’ And Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.” (14:28-29).
It’s not that Peter didn’t walk very far. The fact that he did it at all is the amazing thing.
Walking on the water was dangerous. Unsafe. Unreasonable. Risky.
“But seeing the wind, he became afraid and began to sink. He cried out, ‘Lord, save me!'” (14:30).
I for one am glad he did this. Because had Peter walked on the water and continued out there for the next half hour, wouldn’t he have been a force to be reckoned with for the rest of his life.
Peter didn’t make it all at once. He did not have a one-time-and-done experience, but struggled with the day-to-day decisions like the rest of us.
He got some things right. And he messed up royally more than once.
He even denied knowing Jesus three times when our Lord was on trial.
But he got up and came back. He wept over his failures (Matthew 26:75).
He saw the empty tomb. He saw the risen Lord. And He stood up on the day of Pentecost and preached the sermon of his life, when 3,000 people of many nations professed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
And finally, he became the Rock the Lord had announced him to be from the beginning.
He had to grow into it.
Like you and me.
Jesus said it’s all a matter of faith. Using our faith. “O you of little faith,” Jesus said to the sinking disciple. “Why did you doubt?” (14:31).
On another occasion, when the disciples feared another storm on the same sea, Jesus said to them, “Why did you fear? Where is your faith?” (Matthew 8:26; Mark 4:40).
Every day of our lives we are faced by these decisions. We have to decide whether we will act by faith or let our fears and doubts dominate us?
John Ortberg wrote a wonderful book titled, “If You Want to Walk on the Water, You Have to Get Out of the Boat.”
That’s the starting place.
Quit playing it safe. Quit giving in to your fears.
Stand up and do the right thing.
Get out of the boat and come to Jesus.