Peter’s Action: At Least He Stepped Out

When Jesus walked on water, we know that the water was turbulent. The boat was in danger, and the waves were crashing around the boat. In this storm, Jesus asks Peter to step out onto the waves. Peter, upon stepping out, begins to doubt; he begins to sink and cries out to Jesus for help.  Jesus immediately grabs his arm, saving him.  After commenting on Peter’s lack of faith, Jesus enters the boat and calms the sea.
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.
This message is true, and should not be forgotten. Jesus can and does save us from our doubts, 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, since he was staring at Jesus walking in the water. 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), there is something to be said for this willingness to take that step. 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 leave the confines of the safe boat.  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. Matthew tells us that he walked towards Jesus. It was when his doubts kicked in that he began to sink, and this is when his cries were uttered and heard. If Peter had not taken that initial step, 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.

Published by

J.F. Arnold

James received his MA in Philosophy of Religion at Talbot School of Theology in 2013. He holds a BA in Biblical Studies from Biola University, and is a graduate and perpetual member of the Torrey Honors Institute. James blogs on a number of subjects, including technology, theology, and hip-hop. He has written for Biola’s Center for Christianity, Culture, & the Arts, The Gospel Coalition, and he is an editor for Mere Orthodoxy. You can also keep up with him on Twitter (@jamesfarnold).

  • Dave

    Great insight, I love that you focused on Peters action not just his failure. Also, I love that you noticed that sometimes failing isn’t so bad, so we can see our dependence on him.

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