Tag Archives: Jesus

Impetuous Peter Walks On Water

peter walks on water.jpg

Today’s post is about the impetuous Peter.  The disciple who refused to allow Jesus to wash his feet, then wanted Jesus to wash his whole body which garnered a double-redirection from Jesus (John 13:6-10).  The disciple who rebuffed Jesus when he spoke of his death, earning him a stiff reprimand from Jesus (Matthew 16:22-23).  The disciple who cut off the ear of a servant of the high priest, which Jesus rebuked firmly (Luke 22:49-50).  The disciple who returned to his profession of fishing when he had been called to be a fisher of men (John 21:3).

The same disciple who professed that Jesus is the Messiah, God the Son (Matthew 16:16).  The same disciple who continued to follow Jesus, if only from afar, after Jesus’ arrest (Luke 22:54-62).  The same disciple who immediately ran to the tomb after the women told him it was empty (Luke 24:12).  The same disciple who jumped into the water to get to shore faster in order to see Jesus sooner (John 21:6).

Peter was impetuous, often doing things immediately without thinking things through.  After the miracle of feeding 5,000 men plus women and children (Matthew 14:13-21), Jesus sent his disciples on a boat to Bethsaida.  Jesus went to pray alone.  In the early sea-of-Galileemorning hours (between 3 A.M. and 6 A.M.), the wind had prevented the disciples from making much headway on the Sea of Galilee.  Jesus began walking on the water, intending to pass by them in order to make a demonstration of his deity.  Instead of being impressed by the power of Jesus over the fluidity and instability of water, they imagined him to be a ghost and became afraid.  You cannot really blame the disciples, though.  They had been in a boat all night on a lake that is only 64 square miles large, roughly the size of Liechtenstein.  There was a tremendous headwind preventing the sea-of-Galilee-2000px.jpgboat from making much progress.  Waves were buffeting the boat.  It is quite possible the disciples saw some supernatural force at work in the wind, preventing them from getting to where Jesus had sent them.  A mysterious image walking on the water must have confirmed their fears.

“But when tjesus_walking_on_waterhe disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, ‘It is a ghost!’ and they cried out in fear” (Matthew 14:26).  How soon the disciples forgot that Jesus had calmed the wind and the waves before.  “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:41).  They had just seen Jesus demonstrate his power by feeding 5,000 men with just five loaves and two fish, yet now were trembling in fear at the sight of a ghost.

Jesus immediately calmed their fears by identifying himself “Take heart; It is I.  Do not be afraid” (Matthew 14:27).  Here is where Peter does something impetuous.  He insisted that he walk on the water with Jesus.  “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you onpeter-jumps-john-21 the water” (Matthew 14:28).  Now, I wonder what was going through Peter’s mind at that moment.  Wasn’t he afraid that some ghost imitating Jesus could have bid him to get out of the boat to his death?  Even though his eyes saw a ghost, his ears heard the voice of his Master.  His Master bade him “Come.”  So Peter got out of his comfort zone and walked on the water.  No other man on earth (who was not also God) can make that claim.  Peter was walking on water.

Then Peter took his eyes off of Jesus. “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out ‘Lord, save me!'” (Matthew 14:30).  “When he saw….”  To see.  The Greek word for saw is βλέπω (blep’-o) which means to look at, behold, beware, peter waterlie, look (on), perceive, regard, see, sight, take heed.  As impetuously as he was in leaping out of the boat at the voice of Jesus, Peter now was just as impetuous to regard the wind, and the way it made him feel emotionally.  Instead of regarding the one who commands the wind and the waves, his eyes told him “Beware of the wind and waves.”  He began to walk by sight and not by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7).  He trusted what his eyes were telling him and not in who Jesus is.  Jesus reached for Peter, lifted him up.  Jesus labeled Peter one of little faith.  “Little faith” is translated from one Greek word, όλιγόπιστος (ol-ig-op’-is-tos), meaning incredulous, lacking confidence.  Taken from two Greek words, όλιγόπιστος implies “puny conviction.”

“Why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31).  “Doubt,” διστάζω (dis-tad’-zo) meaning to duplicate, to waver (in opinion), to doubt.  Peter doubted the power of Jesus.  Instead he believed the lie of the wind and waves.  Jesus did not refer to Peter’s “little faith” because he required evidence in order to believe.  Jesus, of course, does not demand blind faith.  The definition of faith is not believing in something without evidence.  Faith is putting trust in someone who is trustworthy.  Jesus, in fact, gave the disciples (and us) evidence of his power by calming the storm, feeding the 5,000, walking on water, resurrecting from the dead.  Requiring evidence is not the issue. 

Trust.  That is what faith is about.  Trust.  Is Jesus able to make me walk on water?  Has he bid me “Come?”[1]  Then what am I waiting for?  Do I trust him?  Imagine if Peter had not lost confidence in Jesus and kept walking by faith instead of by what his eyes saw.  Which disciple would have been next to step out of the boat?  Andrew?  John?  Philip?  Could Peter’s demonstration of faith have inspired the rest to step out in faith?  They weren’t getting anywhere fast inside the boat.  Jesus seemed to be getting along just fine walking on the water.

Peter missed the opportunity to inspire his fellow disciples because he regarded what his eyes saw, instead of the One who bade him “Come.”  His impetuous nature led him to a place where he could have demonstrated great faith.  Instead, he exhibited little faith.  Thankfully, Peter’s story of faith did not end here.  The power of the Gospel transformed him.  He became a man of great faith, even to the point of preaching the resurrection of Jesus though he knew it would lead to his death.   


[1] Although I am not one who believes that miracles ended with the Apostolic age, I do believe that they are less frequent.  God used miracles as evidence for his authority and power. Now that his Word is complete, there is no need for miracles to demonstrate his authority and power.  Do we really trust God who has already spoken, or are we like the Pharisees who constantly sought signs, doubting, wavering?  Though Jesus has the power to make us literally walk on water, he has not bid us “Come.”  My point above about us walking on water is metaphorical, not literal.  Let us be careful not to turn Jesus into a glorified magician, who can wow people with parlor tricks.


A Celebration of Life


Today we celebrate the first anniversary of the homecoming of my father-in-law, Timothy Stanton.  His body succumbed to cancer in the early morning hours of November 18, 2013.  Though he left his body behind, he most assuredly lives in the presence of God.

2013 had been a horrible year for my wife and me.  We suffered two miscarriages and faced the likelihood of our prayers for healing being answered with “No.”

On a Saturday in early November last year, we got a phone call informing us that my father-in-law’s end was near.  Sunday, we packed and traveled the six-hour drive to his Florida home.  When we arrived, I was surprised to see him alert, sitting up on his couch.  I had seen my great-grandfather suffer the same type of cancer.  He had been bed-ridden for months before his death.  My father-in-law did not appear at all close to death.

Throughout the week family members arrived to say their “Good-byes.”  After Thursday, his health quickly deteriorated.  He survived the weekend, and with his wife, and two daughters at his side, early Monday morning Timothy Stanton slipped the bonds of this imperfect life and found himself face to face with Jesus.

He left a godly legacy to his wife, his daughters, and his grandchildren.

In the weeks following my father-in-law’s death, I struggled with my understanding of God.  I never had a crisis of faith, but I had to come to grips with who God really is.  I had some frank discussions with God:


“God you say in your Word ‘Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.’  You said ‘Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?’  Well, God, I asked for healing for my father-in-law, and guess what? You didn’t do it.  I asked for ‘bread’ and was given a ‘stone.’  You say you are good, and you give good gifts, but my experience says to me that you are a liar.”

For several weeks I struggled with what my experience was telling me.  I kept praying, seeking for some understanding.  Then one day I had a Job-like moment with God. Job had questioned God at length. When he finally fell silent, God answered Job with questions of his own. “Were you there when I laid the foundation of the earth?”  After all my questions of God, he had some for me.  He asked “Are you an infinite being with all knowledge of every situation throughout all of history in the entire universe?”

“No,” I sheepishly replied.

“Then how can you possibly know my plans or understand my ways?”

At that moment I understood what “faith” really is about. Faith is not some belief in something despite the evidence. Too many Christians think faith and reason are enemies. People think faith is “believing hard enough,” or “believing in something despite the evidence.” Belief, however, does not create truth.

Too many Christians treat faith like this: Someone walks into an empty room and believes with all his might that a chair is there. When he goes to sit down he falls to the floor because that wishful thinking cannot create a chair.

Faith is walking into a room, seeing a chair, and trusting that it will hold you up when you sit down. Why do you have faith in the chair? Because of the evidence: it has four legs, it looks sturdy, it is made of wood, it has held you up when you sat in it before. You then take the risk and sit down in safety. That is faith: trusting in something/Someone that is trustworthy.

I knew that I needed to exercise faith in God. Not in a mere opinion about him, or in some wishful, positive thinking. But in a complete trust.  I looked to the evidence of Jesus’ resurrection.  Jesus rose from the dead just like he said he would.  I then understood what it means to put my trust in God. I said “I will trust you, God. My experience says you’re a liar. But I believe you are true and my experience is the lie.”

Through my struggles with my father-in-law’s death God has given me a new understanding of death.DSC_0988 Because I trust God, I have embraced what he says about death. “O grave, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” I Corinthians 15:55. “We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.” II Corinthians 5:8.

For those of us who have yielded ourselves to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, death is nothing to fear.  The sting of death is gone. Death is not the end. The finality of death is a lie. Because of the resurrection, death is merely a portal to the presence of Jesus.

So, today we celebrate my father-in-law’s homecoming to the presence of Jesus. His life isn’t over. His perfection has only just begun. We mourn his parting, but not as those who have no hope. We weep at his departure, but not as if his absence is final. We will see him again because of the resurrection power of Jesus.

Timothy Stanton was a loving husband, a devoted father, and is now called “Good and Faithful Servant” by his heavenly Father. On this anniversary of a his passing, we trust Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, will reunite us with him in our own glorious homecoming.

Early Christians Worshipped Jesus

A Look at Bart Ehrman’s Objection: The Earliest Christians Did Not Think Jesus Was God

To this article I would have added some historical perspective. Pliny the Younger was the Roman governor of Pontus and Bithynia from A.D. 111-113. Early in the Second Century (c. A.D. 111) Pliny the Younger wrote to Trajan the emperor, about the problem of the Christians. In interrogating Christians, some of the ones who recanted described to him what they did at these “Christian” meetings. Pliny the Younger wrote to the emperor:

“They asserted, however, that the sum and substance of their fault or error had been that they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and to bind themselves by oath, not to some crime, but not to commit fraud, theft, or adultery, not falsify their trust, nor to refuse to return a trust when called upon to do so.”

So, as early as A.D. 111 Christians were singing hymns to and worshipping Jesus as God. Polycarp, John’s disciple, and others who interacted with the eyewitnesses were still alive and there was no concerted effort to stop this “heresy” of believing Jesus to be a god.

The New Testament is the most reliable document in all of antiquity. The New Testament we have today is the same New Testament penned by the eyewitnesses.  In the New Testament, Jesus is proclaimed to be God.  So from the earliest Christians on down to us, those who truly believed in Jesus confessed he is God. Those who posit that the early Christians did not believe Jesus to be God need to provide more evidence than the speculations of Dan Brown.