(And Don’t Know What to Do)
In a Storm! Winds, rain, thunder, lighting all mixed-up together and blowing in all directions, all at the same time. A storm. Waters falling down and rising up. A storm. Seems to be a common occurrence now-a-days. They come too quick for warning, but always stay long enough to do plenty of damage. A storm. Relentless rains, winds and water with forces strong enough to damage, devastate and destroy. What do you do when you’re faced with your very own personal El Nino? Your very own Hurricane Andrew, your very own Tornado?
Today, we meet Peter. His name is replete throughout the four Gospels. After the name of the Lord Himself, no other name appears as often as Peter’s. No other disciple is so pointedly reproved. No other disciple is so boldly confessed. No other disciple is so outspoken. There is not one person in Scriptures who intruded into the affairs of others or interfered with the Lord’s proceedings as Peter. While John was intuitive, Phillip, apathetic, and Thomas, melancholy, Peter was optimistic and confident. Peter was naturally enthusiastic, but never one to suppress his true nature. He was a man of the strongest, most willful and wayward impulses that, but for watchful prayer, could become his most destructive passions.
Does this kind of person sound a lot like us? He is! And furthermore, we meet this person in the place where many of us hang out. That’s right! We meet him in a storm, a place where we all have either been, are currently in or, will be in soon. A storm!
The text for this message is from Matthew 14:24-29
But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
Peter teaches us that when you’re in a storm and don’t know what to do, the first thing you do is
Place your confidence in Him (v.24-27). In a storm particularly, confidence can be so easily whipped, depleted, and shattered. Therefore, it becomes essential for our trust and reliance to be intact, because the storm is designed to test them to the limit.
Well, let’s not overlook the fact that the reason the disciples were in this storm was because they followed the orders of Jesus. He was the One who suggested in verse 22 that they go to the other side. Here, Jesus told the disciples to do something, they finally did it, and then all hell breaks loose! Now that’s a real hit to the confidence, isn’t it being in a storm because you did what Jesus said do! Is that you?
Peter and the disciples, were on their way to the other side. Suddenly, their ship is in the midst of a storm at sea and it is commandeered by a boisterous storm. Verse 24 says They and all of their cargo are tossed like wood chips from a huors axe. Look, if you will, at this situation. A dozen men are manning the oars, battling with the tempest, and fighting through the dark hours of the night with a storm-whipped sea. Just look at them. They are fisticuffing with death, and getting nowhere. It has been nine long hours since they left the shore (verse 22). It is the fourth watch, somewhere between 3-6 a.m. and they have made very little progress. They are exhausted, shocked and fearing. They are frightened out of their wits and struggling for their very lives. I suspect that more than once they said to each other, We’re gonna die out here! I wish the Master had come with us! What happened to their confidence? I’ve never seen this sea like this! This may be it for us, they exclaim. What happened to their confidence? Why did He tells us to come out here and He stayed on the shore? I knew listening to Him would get us in trouble, they continue. Their confidence was torn! They are tired, terrified and looking death in the face. They are low.
Then suddenly in verse 26, they see the Master walking from wave to wave, toward them, across the sea. Just look: God used the very waves that had threatened the disciples’ lives as pathways for the Lord’s feet! Just remember your waves may be tall, tossed and terrifying, but keep your confidence in Him. Whatever waves you may have waves of sorrow, suffering, discipline, or testing God can and will use your waves as pathways to get to you.
Although verse 25 tells us that Jesus is walking to them, verse 26 says when the disciples saw Him walking on sea, for some reason, they did not recognize Him. Verse 26b says they take Him to be a ghost and they cry out in fear. Why do they cry out in fear? Their mental and physical condition is very important at this point. You see, they were
That’s a storm! What are the disciples to do? Their lives were threatened. They all are bordering on shock with the premonition that death was eminent. Is this a unique, uncommon, or even an extra-ordinary experience? I think not. Many times Jesus comes to us in a way that makes us dread rather than welcome his approach. Sometimes He comes:
Yes, sometimes the approach shatters our confidence, but this is not the time to give up! Jesus’ sudden presence on the water pumped up Peter’s confidence. Yet Peter and the disciples were not quite sure it was He. So, to calm their fears, Jesus says in verse 27b, And of good cheer, it is I; be not afraid.
Sometimes I think that the only reason the Bible was written was to still the fears of our timid hearts and to teach us to not lose confidence in God at the wrong time. Over and over again down through the years, God has used a common refrain fear not. When it looked desperate for Moses, God said, fear not. When it looked hopeless for Deborah, fear not. When it looked beyond repair for Elijah, fear not. Even today, God continues to use that common refrain. When the doctor says it’s no use and the lawyer says there’s no hope, God says, fear not!
Even in my own life, God has said to me time and time again, Arthur, fear not! And instantly my confidence in Him is regained and my faith abounds! The same thing happens in our text. For at least one of the 12 disciples, confidence is renewed and fear is now replaced with a buoyant faith. No matter what others say put your confidence in God! Regardless of how dark it may seem, put your confidence in God! Thus, when you’re in a storm and don’t know what to do, first, place your confidence in Him.
Secondly, you must entrust your confusion to Him. Verse 28 tells us, And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. Always remember, whenever confidence is in the house, confusion lurks in the hallways. Faith often times renders confidence irrational so you find yourself having to manage not only your confidence, but also your confusion. Why? Because first of all, everything He says may not make sense to us, may not be pain free to us, may not be trouble free to us, and, that’s confusing! Say what you will, but when we do what Jesus says and end up in a storm, that’s confusing! I mean just as soon as you decide to try to live right, you encounter a storm! That’s confusing. You start
You think to yourself, Just when I start to act right, live right and do right, storm!
That’s confusing and you might say to yourself, Looks like Jesus ought be happy and give me some sign of encouragement, not a storm! I could get this all by myself. I don’t need no religion for this. It may not make sense, but there is no surer word to rest on than His!
Then too, nothing we say will make sense either. It is the I versus the if issue (verses 27 and 28). In verse 27 Christ says, It is I. In verse 28 Peter says if it is you. Why did Peter ask if it is you? Didn’t Jesus just say, it’s me! Why would Peter say if it’s you? I don’t know, but it proves that in a storm, whatever we say will make little sense! It proves that in a storm, what we say and how we feel are in two very different worlds. I know I’m right for as soon as Peter recognized Jesus, his fear was gone. He began to hope. He gave up doubt and he began to believe. So harnessed to hope now that Jesus is present, Peter says, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come to thee on the water. Does that make any sense? No, it doesn’t! Has Peter lost his mind? What was a moment ago an enormous impossibility, Peter is now thinking something capable of being accomplished.
Peter says, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come to thee on the water. What is even more interesting is Jesus’ reply to Peter. He did not say, Peter, I’m astonished at you! Why do you want to do such a foolish thing? Don’t you know that the storm will beat you? Don’t you know that the law of gravitation is against you? Jesus did not say Peter, Why such a foolish notion? You’ve been at sea life all your life. When did you ever see anybody walk on the waters? Why do you ask for the absurd and ridiculous thing? Jesus said no such thing. In fact, I’ve never read where He told a single trusting heart that His request was impossible. He did say in Mark 9:23 All things are possible, to him that believeth. He did say He makes all things possible. That’s just like Jesus. He never attacks men at the point of their impossibilities. He calls the selfish man to love his neighbor as himself, and the paralytic to rise up and walk. Yet never is there a rebuke for the man who dares to fling himself blindly upon His power.
When Peter says to Jesus, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come to thee on the water, instead of rebuking Peter, Jesus approves him and encourages him. Jesus actually sets His sanction upon Peter’s request. He said to Peter, Come. Come on, Peter! In the midst of Peter’s own confusion about where they are and how they got there, Jesus says, Come. In the midst of that confusion, can’t you just hear what the other disciples are saying to Peter?
Andrew: If it were me, I’d hang onto what boat we have left.
Thomas: Have you lost your mind, man? Nobody ever walked on no water!
But Peter must have said in his spirit, I’m not thinking about y’all! Y’all can stay here and die if you want to, but if that’s Jesus and He’s walking on this water, I know He can make me walk on it too. Y’all don’t remember Psalms 24:1-2: The earth is the LORD’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.’ Well, I remember it. I believed it then, and I believe it now, and if He tells me to come, by His help, I will. I am not thinking about you all!
Verse 28 says, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. So with storm in his face, the winds spraying his hair, and faith in his heart, Peter pushed the boat from under his feet! I think something ought to be said about that. Here, Peter exhibits for us a great and bold move of faith. He is to be admired. If he never takes another step and sinks to the bottom of the sea as a piece of lead, he is worthy of praise. At least he asked to do the unnatural, dreamed of doing the supernatural, dared in the presence of his doubting friends, and ventured to stake his life on the power of Christ to make good his promise. If he fails or if he drowns, he’s still worthy of respect.
Someone once said It is better to make a thousand failures trying, than to be too cowardly to try at all. If that’s the case, then we ought to thank God for Peter today. For he proves to us that whenever you place your confidence in Him and entrust your confusion to Him, you too, can walk on your waves and walk in your storm. Peter obeys Christ! He steps out if a sinking boat on to a stormy sea, placing his confidence in the Lord, and entrusting his confusing to the Lord.
Notice if you will, when Peter lets himself down from the side of the boat; he did not drop into the sea. Rather he dropped into the arms of God, the arms of Him who holds every sea in the hollow of his hands, the arms of Him who kindled every sun and flung every world into space. Oh, don’t worry about Peter sinking. Before he can sink, somebody’s going to have to break God’s arms.
And as impossible and confusing as it may seem, Peter has never been in a safer place in all his life. Jesus said, Come. Peter said, Yes, Lord, and what happened? Verse 29b says, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. Peter did what was humanly impossible and he accomplished what was absolutely beyond the realm of human endeavor he walked on water! Oh, it must have been a thrilling experience! Can you imagine the joy? Can’t you see the terror in the faces of the disciples give way to wonderment, gladness, and amazement? Can’t you hear Thomas saying, Look y’all, he’s walking! Can you believe that? He’s a man just like us. Then Andrew, Sure he is, but he’s walking! Yes, Peter walked!
My brothers and my sisters, we should let no subsequent failure of Peter’s blind us to this one blessed fact He did walk on that water! Are you in a storm and don’t know what to do? Take a lesson from Peter:
Place your confidence in Him
Entrust all your confusion to Him.
And remember, even when you’re walking, that does not mean that the storm is over. For somebody, your storm isn’t over! You don’t need any news from the doctor, a report from the lawyer, or an appearance before the judge. All you need is to place your confidence in Him, entrust your confusion to Him, and then walk! Walk on your storm of unemployment, under employment, marital disharmony, alcohol addiction, abuse, distrust, dishonesty, envy, and being broke all the time. Yes, you can do it! You're from good stock. You’re a royal priesthood. Just like our parents, who got no respect, had no job security, and no money in the bank, no equal rights, civil rights, voting rights, and not even a decent "Hello, Mrs. Jones!" But they placed their confidence in Him, entrusted their confusion to Him, and then walked on their storms. My mamma used to sing a song called Stand by Me.
Remember, place your confidence in Him and entrust your confusion to Him and walk on your storm!!!!!!