Sometimes it’s scary obeying Jesus.
The incident recorded in Matthew 14–in the darkest part of the night, the Lord came walking across the wind-tossed sea to the disciples and Peter is allowed, nay encouraged, to leave the boat and walk to Him, managing to take a few tentative steps over the sea before his fears got the best of him–turns out to have been the story of the rest of Peter’s life.
In a manner of speaking.
Leaving his comfort zone to come to Jesus, stepping out of the metaphorical boat and onto the watery surface where no visible means of support presented themselves, thus risking everything, is what Peter did–or was called on to do–again and again for the rest of his life.
One. Peter, will you confess Jesus? “Well, normally I would–but today it’s scary!”
He was warming himself at the fire in the courtyard while, not far away, the Lord was on trial. Three times Peter has the opportunity to confess Jesus. The problem is that was a most scary thing to do. He would have been hanging himself out there for all to see, he would have made a target of himself, and it would have been uncomfortable. Luke tells us what happened at the end….
“But Peter said (for the third time), ‘Man, I do not know what you are talking about.’ And immediately, while he was still speaking, a cock crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter…. And Peter went out and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:60-62).
Two. Peter, will you stay near the cross? “But that’s dangerous.”
“They brought Jesus to the house of the high priest, but Peter was following at a distance” (Luke 22:54).
When the Lord was crucified on Golgotha, the Apostle John stood by and we’re told a group of women remained near the cross (John 19:25). . Peter is nowhere to be seen.
Perhaps he was still in the boat.
Three. Peter, will you be a witness of the resurrection? “I’d like to. Just as soon as I’m sure.”
John 20 informs us that Peter and John were on their way to the tomb that first Lord’s Day morning, and when Mary Magdalene told them someone had moved the body, they ran to see. John arrived first, peeked in, and then hesitated. But Peter rushed in, looked around, and took note of the head cloth laying to one side, rolled up, and the linen strips in which the Lord had been wrapped, all still encircled, just as the beloved friends had done Him for burial, but with one exception: the body has disappeared from the cocoon.
John “saw (this scene) and believed” (John 20:8). We’re not told Peter’s reaction. This gospel is, after all, John’s story. And, oddly, while the Upper Room appearances of the risen Lord are given in Mark 16:14ff, Luke 24:33ff, and John 20:19ff, not one word is mentioned about Peter, the most loquacious of the Twelve, the one who spoke when no one else knew what to say (see Mark 9:5-6).
Perhaps Peter had been humbled by his failings over the past few hours, and God was doing a new work in him. It’s what our Lord called “when you are converted” or “turned again” (Luke 22:32).
To see how he witnessed of the resurrection thereafter, read his sermons in Acts and the two epistles bearing his name. In particular, do not miss I Peter 1:3 and 2:21-25.
Four. Peter, will you preach to Jerusalem and go public in this gospel message? “I will.”
“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…. But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them, ‘Men of Judea, and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give heed to my voice….” (Acts 2:4,14ff).
Don’t miss this. Peter was the preacher, but he was backed up by all the disciples. And we will not fault him for this. He was spreading his new wings for the first time. This was scary. And yet, the power of God was surging within them all, and this had to be done.
Fear was no longer an option.
Peter had finally learned to walk on water.
Five. Peter, will you boldly take a stand before the religious authorities for Jesus? “Lead me to them. I’m ready.”
After healing the cripple at the gate called Beautiful, a crowd gathered and Peter preached his second sermon (Acts 3). As a result, he and John were arrested (4:3). At their trial (of a sort), they were asked “by what power or in whose name” they had done such a miracle. The ringing declaration came through–and we have quoted Peter ever since–that “Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
And when they were instructed to leave Jesus out of their preaching, Peter and John were unequivocal: “You can decide for yourselves what you will do, but as for us, we cannot stop speaking the things we have heard and seen.” (4:19-20).
The rest of Acts 4 tells what happened next.
Peter was walking and skipping on the water.
Six. Peter, will you be willing to suffer for Jesus? “Whatever it takes.”
“We must obey God rather than man,” Peter and the apostles told the authorities (5:29).
“So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name” (5:41).
Peter is now dancing on the water.
Would Peter open his heart to the Gentiles also? That’s Acts 10.
And in time, would Peter die for Jesus? The earliest records say that Peter was crucified for his faith in Jesus, but counting himself unworthy to be treated as Jesus had been, insisted that he be executed upside down.
Would you be willing to step out of your comfort zone and walk to Jesus if He bid you come?
–To stand before your co-workers and testify of your faith in Jesus?
–To give that talk before your peers and explain the new thing God has done in your life?
–To openly confess Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior even if your family disowned you and cut you out of their lives and cursed you?
–To leave the comfort of familiar things and move to another culture to live this new life for Jesus Christ?
–To teach that class? Make that substantial gift? Go public in your opposition to corruption and in support of all that is right?
It’s scary. It might even be dangerous.
But you could end up walking on the water.
And think what fun that will be.