The story of Jesus coming to his disciples walking on water comes on the heels of him feeding over 5000 people with 2 fish and five loaves of bread. The disciples, along with many other people, to this point in the life of Jesus have seen Jesus do many great miracles. However, at this point in the life of Jesus, as recorded by Matthew, none of the disciples had recognized the Lordship of Jesus. The disciples have seen Jesus teach and preach with authority, heal the sick, and even raise the dead. Even though Jesus had fulfilled many of the prophecies foretold in the Old Testament about him, the disciples had still not recognized or acknowledged the Lordship of Jesus. In this story, as we will see, the storm that Jesus sent his disciples into, had the purpose of displaying his glory as the Son of God. A while back a great friend and mentor of mine, Dr. Ray Carr, walked me through this story to encourage me through a very difficult time. In many Bible studies and conversations, Dr. Ray Carr constantly reminded me and many of my friends that joy says, “It does not matter what happens to me as long God is glorified and the gospel is preached.”
*Please note, nothing in this story will be helpful in your spiritual formation if you are not pursuing a relationship with the Lord by walking with him in your personal life. This article is based on a sermon that can be found by clicking here.
1 Jesus will allow us to go through storms.
Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. Matthew14:22
Jesus will allow us to go through storms in our lives, ultimately for our good and his glory. Whether you are obediently following Jesus or living in disobedience. God uses the difficulties that we go through to shape us into his image, remind us of our need for him, and to show us who he truly is.
2 Jesus is praying for you.
And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone… Matthew 14:23
As Paul says in Romans 8:34, “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” In this story, Jesus was well aware of what his disciples were going through and he is well aware of what you are going through. Jesus is seated at the right hand of God, right now, interceding on your behalf in the midst of whatever you’re going through.
3 Going forward in obedience is always better than going back in disobedience.
…but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. Matthew 14:24
The disciples are rowing against the storm. At this moment it would have been much easier to turn and go back to shore. But the disciples decided instead to continue in obedience to Jesus’ command to go to the other side of the water. Had they decided to go back in disobedience, they would have missed what Jesus was doing in the midst of the storm.
4 There is never a moment when the presence of God is far from us.
And in the fourth watch of the night, he came to them, walking on the sea. Matthew 14:25
There is never a moment in this story where Jesus is far from the disciples. He knew what they were going through (he sent them into it), and when the time was right, Jesus came to the disciples walking on the sea. The storm that caused the disciples trip to be made with great difficulty, had no power over Jesus who walked right through it. Jesus could have come to the disciples at any moment, but he waited until the time was right. And when the time was right, Jesus showed the disciples that the very thing that caused them pain only did so in submission to him. Whatever storm you may be facing, only comes against you in submission to the will of Jesus.
5 Our focus has to stay on Jesus
But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. Matthew 14:26
The disciple’s focus was on just getting through the storm. No one should fault them for that. By the time Jesus comes to them walking on the sea, it sometime between 3 and 6 in the morning, they’ve been rowing against this storm for hours, so they’re tired. But because they were focused on getting through the storm and not on the one that is allowing them to go through the storm, they missed him when he came them walking on the sea. In all of our storms and trials, we have to keep our focus on the one who is allowing us to go through the storms and trials. God desires that we see, know, worship, and glorify him. So when we are in the midst of the storm we have to keep our focus on Jesus, asking the question, “what is God trying to do in and through in the midst of what I’m going through?”
6 We have to remember who Jesus and allow his words to comfort us.
But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” Matthew 14:27
The words that Jesus uses with the disciples to comfort them with his presence are a declaration of his deity. In Matthew 14:27, Jesus is telling the disciples that they have nothing to fear because he is God, so he is in control. We have to remember that the one who is with us in the midst of the storm, is the God of the universe. And we have to allow the Word of God to be our comfort in the midst of trials. This is one of the reasons that scripture memory is so important. Memorizing scripture gives us the opportunity to remember who God is, what he has done, and what he promises to do. The Word of God not only comforts us in the midst of storms, but it also gives us the courage to continue walking in obedience. There are so many verses and passages of scripture that would be good to have in your memory bank when you’re walking through difficulty. Here are a couple (I would definitely suggest finding more. The fighter verses app is a great resource for scripture memory.):
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
but those who trust in the Lord
will renew their strength;
they will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not become weary,
they will walk and not faint.
7 Never allow your storm to cause you to doubt God’s goodness or lose faith in God’s power.
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.” Matthew 14:28-30
Contrary to the way this story is often preached, this story is not about how much or how little faith Peter had. This story is about the object of Peter’s faith. When Peter asked Jesus to give him the power to walk on the water, he truly believed that Jesus could do that. The issue when Peter began to sink wasn’t that he lost faith in Jesus (because he immediately cries out to Jesus), but he doubted that Jesus could sustain him in the storm. Jesus can and will sustain you in the midst of trials and troubles. Your faith will never be perfect, and at times you will doubt, but you have to remember that is working all things for your good (that he is, he is making you look more like him), and he sovereignly in control over all you go through.
8 Our storms have the potential to open our eyes to the power of God.
Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Matthew 14:31-32
Peter got to see and experience the power of Jesus as he walked in the storm. In the same way that squeezing a jelly doughnut exposes what’s inside, when Peter is squeezed by the storm, his doubt is exposed and expelled and replaced with stronger faith and trust in who Jesus is. Jesus allows us to go through storms in order to expose where our faith in him is weak. Jesus then strengthens our faith by showing us who he is. The promise is not that the storm will stop, but that your eyes will be opened.
9 Our storms have the potential to open others eyes to the power God.
And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Matthew 14:33
Not only where Peter’s eyes opened to who Jesus is, but the eyes of all the disciples were opened to who Jesus is. Just like this story is not about Peter’s faith but about the object of Peter’s faith, your storms and trials are not about you. What you go through as a believer is about the object of your faith. God desires that you see, know, worship, and glorify him above all else. God will use what you go through, to achieve the same in others. Not only is their potential for people’s eyes to be opened to who God is as they watch you walk faithfully with God in the midst of troubles, but God can and will use what you go through to help others who are walking through similar situations. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says that God comforts us in our afflictions so that we may be able to comfort those in any affliction with the comfort we have received from God. So we don’t have time to wallow in self-pity or walk in disobedience. As our weaknesses are exposed, we must lean on the strength of the object of our faith, so that the eyes of those around us can be opened to who Jesus is, what he has done, and what he promises to do.