Let’s face it, often when we think about Peter, at least pre-pentecost, we’re likely to consider his failures. We’ll sometimes refer to him as impetuous Peter. Speak first, think later Peter. Ready, fire, aim Peter. Tells Jesus there’s no way he will let Jesus go to the cross and is rebuked as Satan. Cuts off an ear when, instead, he should have submitted to God’s will being done. Denies the Lord three times when he should have stood fast for Him. And, as I read this morning, Peter sinks into the sea when he should have been walking on the water.
But here’s the thing, Peter’s failures were as epic as they were only because he was willing to be all in. The cross was so unpalatable because he had just declared Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of the living God. The ear fell to the ground because Peter was willing to fight to the death to protect his Master. The denial was so bitter because, though the flesh was weak, his spirit was willing and determined to stand fast as, with boldness, he declared his allegiance. And the sinking? Well you can’t sink unless you first get out of the boat.
Finishing up Matthew 14 this morning. The disciples are in a boat bailing while Jesus is on a mount praying. And somewhere between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. Jesus comes to the beleaguered band of boaters “walking on the sea” (14:24). And when they see Him they are terrified. In the pre-dawn, storm-tossed, mist-filled light Jesus looks like an apparition. But Jesus speaks. And though the wind still raged, the disciples were calmed. Cue Peter.
And Peter answered Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.
(Matthew 14:28-29 ESV)
Stop there! Sure, Peter’s going to avert His eyes from the Savior and refocus on the wind. Yeah, his ankles and then his knees are going to start getting really wet. I know, he’s gonna sink. He’s going to doubt and be rebuked for having little faith. But it only happens because what little faith he had he exercised. You can’t go down if you’ve never tried to step up. Bottom line? Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.
Or, to frame it in terms of another reading of mine this morning . . . a reading in the psalms . . . a reading of one of my life verses . . . Peter tasted some salt water only because he was willing to open his mouth.
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! (Psalm 34:8a ESV)
The sea water might have been bitter as he gulped it in, but how sweet was it when Jesus reached out His hand and took hold of Peter? While Peter might have learned something about his own doubt and lack of faith, by stepping out of the boat what did Peter also learn about the power of Jesus to rescue? The others looked at a ghost-like figure from afar, Peter grasped the hand of the Son of God and was embraced by Him. And I’m thinking, even if we come up short sometimes, we need to be willing and should be wanting, to taste and see that the Lord is good.
I’m not talking about being reckless or about carelessly putting God to the test. But I am thinking about being a little bolder, of sowing that mustard seed of faith a little quicker, and of drinking of what God offers a little deeper.
Don’t much like the taste of salt water, but sometimes if you’re willing to taste, you’ll see that the LORD is good.
All by grace . . . all for His glory.