Though Matthew, Mark and John record the Lord walking upon the Sea of Galilee, only Matthew records the account of Peter getting out of the ship and walking on the sea also. Most are familiar with the account, but the text says, “And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him…” (Matt. 14:29-31). We wish to note somewhat of a parallel between Peter’s water walking episode and our own plight to reach a heavenly home.
First, we need to take note that it was incumbent upon Peter to come to the Lord. When Peter asked the Lord to be allowed to walk on the water also, the Lord said just one word: Come. One would do well to note the number of times in the New Testament that people are encouraged to come to the Lord. Earlier in this same gospel account, Matthew records where Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). At the close of the New Testament, the apostle John writes, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17). At one point in His teachings, “many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:66-68). It was this same Peter that stood before Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest (Acts 4:6) and said, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
In order for Peter to come to Jesus, he had to get out of the ship. The text says, “And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus” (Matt. 14:29). There was a certainty that none of the other apostles would be able to walk on the water or sink in the water, for none of the other apostles got out of the ship. The only way that one can come to Christ is to get out of the power of darkness and out of the bondage of sin. The apostle Paul said that the Colossian brethren had been delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son (Col. 1:13). In His prayer for His apostles, Jesus said of them, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:16). They abode still in this world, but they did not embrace the things of this world. They had ceased to be under the bondage of sin. They had made that transition when they were baptized into Christ for the remission of their sins (Rom. 6:3-4; Acts 22:16). Paul wrote, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness” (Rom. 6:17-18).
And, then there was that famous walk. Peter walked on the water…until he allowed himself to be distracted from the walk he was currently in and the Lord Himself. Many have done the exact same thing, just not with the wind and the waves of a literal sea. In His parable of the soils, the Lord spoke of the seed that fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it (Luke 8:7). His explanation for this point was, “And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with the cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection” (Luke 8:14). This describes many of our day. The apostle John wrote, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (I John 2:15). It is imperative that one who seeks to walk the walk that leads to eternal life, keep his or her eyes firmly fixed upon the things spiritual, not on the things material. Paul wrote, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set you affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:1-2). To the Corinthians he wrote, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Cor. 4:18).
However, it is a simple fact that no matter how hard we try, we will stumble and fall from time to time. Our Lord was the only one to live on earth of which it could be said, “yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). The apostle John writing to Christians said, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us”, and, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (I John 8, 10). But, Peter set a great example for us. What did he do when he stumbled? He said, “Lord save me” (Matt. 14:30). Rest assured, He will cleanse us (I John 1:9).
(Editor’s note: Robert Oliver is pastor of The Church of Christ. Send any questions or comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org)