The Action of Peter
When Jesus walks on the water, we know that the water is turbulent.
The boat is in danger, and the waves are crashing around the boat. Jesus asks Peter to step out onto the waves. Peter, upon stepping on the waves, begins to doubt. When he doubts, he begins to sink (or so the order seems to me), and cries out to Jesus for help. Jesus immediately grabs his arm, saving him. After commenting on Peter’s lack of faith (and, honestly, I cannot quite tell if Jesus is laughing or chastising), Jesus enters the boat and calms the sea (seemingly by his mere presence).
The most common message from this passage, aside from the amazing walking on water miracle, is that faith is a powerful thing, and that doubt can swallow us up. When we do doubt, we should call out to Jesus, and he will save us from our doubts, as well as the consequences of our doubts (in this case, drowning).
This message is great, and should not be forgotten. Jesus does save us from our doubts, and we need only call out to him for that salvation. But there is another important aspect of the story that I think we would be foolish to forget.
Peter stepped out on to the water.
Peter said that if it was really Jesus, then Jesus should invite him onto the water. Jesus asked Peter, and Peter responded with action. Peter had little reason to doubt (as we might, in discerning the will of God), since he was staring at Jesus walking in the water (though with a storm brewing, perhaps there could have been some doubt). While we may have more reason to hesitate about God’s words (His will is more difficult to discern when Jesus is not physically looking at us), if we have a reasonable level of certainty, we should be willing to step out onto the water. If we make this initial step, Jesus is faithful to save us should we doubt and cry out to him.
But it seems that often, we do not make that initial step. We doubt before we step out onto the water. Our doubt can trap us, much like the waves around the boat. Peter, in his moment of action, trusted that Jesus would protect him from the waves as he walked on the water. Peter was right, and his trust was rightly placed. When Peter stepped onto the water, he actually did walk (we know not exactly how far, but he doesn’t seem to have just sunk). When his doubts kicked in, he began to sink, and this is when his cries were uttered and heard. If Peter had not made that initial action, he would not have been touched by Jesus.
We should not be afraid to take that first step of faith, because sink or walk, Jesus will be there. We will either walk with Jesus on the water, storm raging, or Jesus will pick us up with his own hand. And to be saved by the Savior’s hand is a great blessing.