Testing the Waters

Peter.1A Sinful Man #5

A Study in Jesus’ dealings with Simon, brother of Andrew, who became the Apostle Peter.

Peter’s decision to follow Jesus led to a remarkable healing service in Peter’s home. Beginning with the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law. The meeting lasted late into the night with Jesus healing everyone who came to him. The following morning Jesus arose before the sun to find a private place to pray. Meanwhile, people gathered at Peter’s house hoping to continue the healing meeting, but Jesus disciples did not know his whereabouts.

The situation demanded Jesus’ attention so Simon Peter and some disciples searched for him. When they found him they delivered an important message. “All men seek for thee.” That message had no effect on Jesus. He told them to pack. They were taking his healing ministry to other towns.

As Jesus preached in other towns Peter witnessed Jesus touch the untouchable when he cleansed a leper. He watched the desperate tear a roof off a man’s house so they could lower their sick friend into Jesus’ presence. While in Jerusalem for the Passover Jesus healed a man who had been ill for 38 years and restore a man’s withered hand.

The healing created conflict with religious leaders exposing the extent of their corruption. A Pharisee named Nicodemus had already confirmed what Jesus knew. The pastors of Jesus’ day did not have the love of God in them. The church would never let Jesus be a part of their organization. They had become salt that lost its savor, good for nothing but to be discarded.[1] Jesus chose 12 men, named them apostles and founded a new church built on grace. The famous Sermon on the Mount that followed became the guiding principles to govern this new religious movement. Then Jesus went to the city of Nain and did the impossible. He raised a widow’s son from the dead.

Peter was well acquainted with Jesus’ power over the human body when they entered a boat to sail to the other side of the lake. As they sailed Jesus fell asleep. Suddenly a storm arose.[2] But the winds and wild rocking of the boat filling with water did not wake him. His terrified disciples were perplexed that Jesus would sleep while they were perishing. They awoke him with an accusation of callousness, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”[3]

Jesus answered that question with his actions. He rebuked the winds and commanded the sea to be still. Then he chastised his disciples for their fear and lack of faith. That experience taught the disciples three things about Jesus. First, Jesus’ power extended beyond the human body. He also controlled nature. Second, human fear and lack of faith did not limit his power. Third, Jesus cared. He allowed them to be tossed in a storm, but he would not have let them drown.

Four months later, Peter’s familiarity with Jesus’ power became personal. Jesus divided the Apostles into teams of two and sent them to preach the gospel with more than words. He gave them the same power and authority he possessed to cast out unclean spirits and to heal the sick.[4]

In the Apostles absence,  Jesus learned Herod’s wife had manipulated him to behead John the Baptist.  When the Apostles returned their excitement about the things they had done and taught comforted Jesus in his grief. The Apostles needed to rest and Jesus wanted to be alone with them. They departed for a desert place, but Jesus could not escape the ever present crowds. There would be no rest or time to grieve. He ministered to the crowds and then fed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish. But the display of his power created a dangerous situation. When the crowds realized what Jesus had done, they formed a committee to force him to be their king.

Concerned for the safety of the Apostles when he refused their demand, he constrained them to sail back to Capernaum while he dispersed the multitudes. After the people left, Jesus went to a mountain to pray. Shortly before dawn he returned to shore and saw the Apostles struggling against the wind as they attempted to row the boat to the other side of the lake.

Jesus cared when he slept in the ship and a storm frightened them. And he cared as he stood on the shore watching them struggle to cross the lake. He was so concerned he walked on water. Everyone on the boat saw him approaching but assumed it was a ghost. Jesus spoke hoping to calm their fears.

They were not convinced the man standing on water was Jesus. Peter wanted to be sure. He already knew Jesus had power over the wind and sea and that Jesus cared. He also knew that Jesus could impart his power to others. He had given Peter the same power he possessed to heal the afflicted. That knowledge made Peter’s test of Jesus’ identity reasonable. “If it’s you…tell me to come to you on the water.”[5]

Jesus said, “Come”

The eleven men on the boat with Peter had experienced the same things Peter did, but Peter was the only one willing to step out of the boat in a storm trusting Jesus would not let him drown. This time Jesus let the storm rage as Peter walked on water until he was within arm’s length of Jesus. Distracted by a strong wind, Peter began to sink and cried “save me.” Immediately, Jesus reached out and caught him, but he still did not calm the storm. Peter’s little faith was enough for Peter and Jesus to walk on water together as they returned to the boat. The winds stopped when they entered the boat. Just as their fear did not limit Jesus’ ability to calm the storm when they awoke him from sleep, Peter’s fear did not hinder Jesus’ ability to save him.

Peter’s request for proof persuaded the astonished disciples that Jesus was the Son of God. Jesus judgment of Peter the first time they met proved accurate. Peter would become a rock because he will test the accuracy of the things he had learned. The truth tested and tried built a solid foundation for Peter’s faith to become a rock. His intimate experience with Jesus also planted the false assumption he loved Jesus more than his fellow disciples.

[1] Matthew 5:13

[2] http://christiananswers.net/q-eden/ednk-seaofgalilee.html

[3] Mark 4:38, NIV

[4] Matthew 10:1-4

[5] Matthew 14:28, NIV

About Teena Myers

Teena Myers is the Chairman of Southern Christian Writers, a freelance writer and author of three books.
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