I have been studying the life & leadership of Jesus since the new year with a renewed sense of awe and wonder. Matthew chapter 14 particularly hit me as throughout several experiences Jesus models both perfect humanity and all-powerful deity.
As the chapter begins, we learn about the brutal, vicious, and horrific murder of John the Baptist. Jesus finds out what happened and is notably affected by this devastating loss. John the Baptist was not only His cousin but shared a significant space in God’s story (HIStory) with Jesus. John was God’s chosen messenger, preparing the way for Jesus (Matthew 11:10). Jesus desired to get away and be alone, so he departed by boat.
As always, people were in need all around Him, following Him by foot from town to town. So, his alone time was put on pause while He selflessly and compassionately heals all the sick. After abundantly providing lunch for 5K men (plus women and children) and simultaneously teaching his disciples an incredible leadership lesson, He still needs that time away. No doubt the loss of John the Baptist was heavy on His heart and the long days of ministry were exhausting. So, He puts His disciples on a boat, dismisses the well-fed crowd, and spends the night alone in prayer. Even the perfect Son of God required regular connection to the Father and self care.
Meanwhile a storm is brewing…
As we pick up the story in Matthew 14: 24 I love the response of the disciples! Keep in mind they have been with Jesus for quite awhile and have seen incredible miracles, but their minds are utterly blown when they see Jesus walking on water!! Like whattttt!!! Of course, Peter wants in on the action and is the first to jump at the chance to walk on water.
“And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand, caught hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those in the boat worshiped him and said, “Truly you are the Son of God.”” Matthew 14: 29b-33 CSB
When Peter takes his eyes off Jesus and looks at the wind, fear settles in his heart. He took steps forward and was doing fine, but as soon as he takes his gaze off Jesus and sees the strength of the wind Peter starts to sink. Isn’t that just like you & I? When we take our eyes off Jesus, focusing on the storms, stress, & struggles in our lives, we begin to sink too.
Peter was a fisherman with lots of experience in powerful storms. His experience no doubt informed his fear. Many times, in his past he witnessed the powerful destructive capabilities of wind, rain, & storms. In that moment he relied on his experience rather than his faith in Jesus.
Faith will take us out of the familiar every time.
It doesn’t matter how powerful the storm, or what our past experiences, abilities, or limitations are trying to take us under. God controls the storm! God can do anything, far beyond what we can even ask or think or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). Nothing is impossible to our God if we will keep our eyes on Him. (Luke 1:37)
I don’t know about you but verse 31 ministers so much grace to me. Even when Peter failed to keep his eyes on Jesus, Jesus still caught him. Thank you, Father, for being the type of loving, compassionate, and merciful Father than catches us when we fall.
Wherever you are today and whatever you are facing. Keep your eyes on Jesus! If you’ve fallen, reach for His hand and He will catch you. Nothing is impossible because He controls the storm.
Questions for reflection, prayer, & journaling
– Are the storms that you are facing more impossible than walking on water? (Hint: nope they’re not)
-What is Jesus calling you to in this season?
-How can you rely on His voice and step out in faith in this storm?