When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
“Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
“Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
I’ll tell you, there’s just so much to this event!
The only place I can think to start is with Peter trying to walk on water in Matthew 14. But it doesn’t start there. Let me explain: Notice that this event is directly after Matthew 13, where Jesus talked about the different soils for the Word of God to be planted in. We often think of that story for seekers and new believers: you know, we share the Gospel, others hear, and how they respond relates to how the seeds landed? But I have to wonder if what happened in chapter 14 was actually (or also) Jesus’ test to His disciples, and a way of putting the parable into real life, not just for seekers, but also for believers…followers of Jesus Christ…us? I’ll explain:
So we have Jesus walking on water and His twelve disciples freaking out about it possibly being a ghost. Now I thought this was weird, since chapter 10 just got done telling us about how the twelve cast out demons and healed the sick. So everybody freaked out for a bit, and the Bible even says they “cried out”. But then, after everybody realizes it’s actually Jesus, Peter ASKS, “Lord! Command me to come out to you on the sea!” (Dude, that’s like begging Jesus to test you! Peter was just begging for failure!).
So Jesus said, “Come.”
Peter walked for a couple steps, but then saw the waves and felt the wind, and began to sink. Then he yelled, “Lord, save me!” And the Scriptures tell us Jesus caught his arm, lifted him up, and they both got into the boat.
So I’m looking at this, imagining Jesus as he’s saying, “Oh ye of little faith,” and actually thinking, “So Peter, which seed are you (now?)?”
Because check this out: When they asked Jesus why He teaches in parables, Jesus replied that ‘they were given the ability to understand, but many others weren’t.’ So you have to figure, they were feeling pretty proud about that. I mean, heck, wouldn’t you feel special if the Lord told you that he had given you the ability to do something that nobody else there could do, especially not even the hot-shot Pharisees, Scribes, and Teachers of the Law? And we know they took pride in this because as Jesus was teaching the multitudes in the middle of nowhere, for THEY TOLD JESUS to send the people away to eat…THEY ORDERED JESUS! A sign of pride? Ya think? But instead of listening to them, Jesus turned it around and told them to feed the people. And that’s where we have the miracle of the feeding of the 5000+.
So then, once everybody was fed, Jesus told the twelve to get into the boat and return home, while He sends everybody home. That was when the winds began picking up and waves bashing against the sides of the boat. You see? Jesus was putting them in their place. ‘You think you’re so great because you were given understanding of the parables? You think you can tell me what to do? Really?’ I mean remember, at the end of the event, the wind and waves did stop as SOON as Jesus stepped into the boat.
So let’s look at the seeds and soils:
- Some fell on the path, never taking up root; these were ones who heard the Word of God, but never went anywhere with it.
- Some fell in the rocky and low soil, shooting up quickly, but then withering in the sun; these were those who accepted the Word with joy, but then fell away when they put their focus on life’s dangers and worries;
- Some grew fell among the weeds, which choked them; these are those who accepted God’s Word with joy, but soon fell away when they shifted their focus’ onto life’s luxuries;
- And some fell into deep soil; these are the True Christians you see today who planted God’s Word into their hearts, and who share it with others, producing more crops of such Christians as themselves.
So to me, Peter looks here like the second one…the one that fell on shallow soil, for as he began to walk on the sea, he took his eyes off Jesus and focused on the elements around him that could hurt him.
But then, I was thinking as I was reading this: While in Chicago during our Christmas break one year, the Lord rekindled my passion for working in radio (radio ministry). Twice, He put a format proposal into my mind (it’s been approved and praised by several other radio professionals), and He even eased my fears from being out of radio for so long (since 2005). So when my wife and I returned from Chicago, I was on fire with the plan to get back into radio. So I began calling some stations. But within the first month, our cell phone minutes were quickly used up, and so I needed to wait until February to continue my search. Then 2 things happened:
- I received phone calls from the Census Bureau about working for them in the Spring, so I held off on the radio mission;
- I began to learn that most of the stations in the area were owned by major corporations. That brought my hope down, for why would a major corporation take a chance with me? Sure I’m known in Chicago, as is my last name, but not where we were living at the time. So I got scared, and quit. And like Peter, I took my focus off the Lord and His mission for me, and I began to sink.
So for a while, I was looking at this revelation about the events in Matthew, and so I asked myself: “Which seed am I (currently)?” And the answer disappointed me.
Because you see, if the Lord wills (or especially commands) something, then HE will make it happen. But if we are going to walk on the water, we are going to have to keep Jesus in our sites at ALL TIMES, and not be swayed by the elements around us that could normally do us harm. And so if we keep our focus on Him, we’ll continue to walk on the water towards Him. But if we don’t, then just like Peter, we will sink.
So I have to ask:
- Which seed are you?
- Are you happy with that answer?
- What needs to be done in order for you to be able to “walk on water”?
(For the record, we did move back to IL, where I also hoped to get back into radio. Instead, the Lord closed that opportunity and opened up some others…this website is one of those doors that was opened).