Jesus walks on water – one of the most famous stories in the Bible.
I’m sure you know how it goes.
At Bible studies we talk about the faith of Peter, who was willing to step out of his comfort zone (the boat) and pursue Jesus even in the storm. We learn that if we can keep our eyes on Jesus, we can overcome the obstacles and hardships in our life.
All great lessons…but there’s a problem.
You can’t walk on water.
Some of you, like me, know this all too well. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t do it. You want to pursue Christ, but you keep falling into the same mistakes. The hardships of life keep bringing you down. You can’t seem to overcome certain sins. And just when you begin to walk over them, in you go again.
On comes the guilt.
On comes the shame.
What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I just keep my eyes on Jesus?
Why can’t I just keep walking on the water?
But what if we interpret the story a little bit differently? What if it isn’t really about walking on water?
The Big Picture
Let’s first begin by examining what’s happening here. The disciples are on a tiny fishing boat in the middle of a terrible storm. Despite what we may think, this boat is not a place of comfort. It should not represent a “comfort zone” in our analysis. The disciples are going to drown whether they stay on the boat or not. They are completely overwhelmed by the storm… just like we are completely overwhelmed by sin. See, sin is like a raging storm in our life that is impossible to overcome. There is nowhere to go and nowhere to hide. Eventually you will drown. That’s harsh, but it is the reality.
Ah, but what about God? What about religion? Certainly there is a way to save yourself! I suppose Peter may have had a similar idea in his head. After all, Jesus had just declared from out on the water, “Take courage, the I Am is here!” As a good Jew, Peter would have recognized the reference made by Jesus. Jesus was associating himself with God. And also as a Jew, it is no wonder that Peter would have felt the urge to go towards Him. After all, that’s what religion is. Doing good things gets you one step closer to heaven. Overcome the sin and march onward to God himself! But as Peter quickly found out, that philosophy may start off well, but it will not last. The power of sin and the separation between you and God is too great. No matter what, you will begin to sink, just like Peter. You cannot escape drowning.
So what hope is there?
How can we rise above the storm? How can we become close to God?
Before I give my answer, let me ask you a question:
In this story, when was Peter closest to God?
Think about it.
Most people will say that it was when he was walking on the water…but that’s not true.
Peter was closest to God when he held on to Jesus… while he was drowning.
The climax of this story is not when Peter is walking on water, but rather, when he’s sinking. In his desperation, Peter exclaims the most powerful words that any human being can utter.
“Save me, Lord!”
See, this story, like most stories in the Bible, is not about you. It’s about Jesus.
It’s not about you walking on the water – It’s about trusting God to pull you out of it.
As Jesus makes abundantly clear, we are fallen and broken people. We have little faith and are filled with doubts. It is impossible for us to walk on water. Our efforts alone will leave us gasping for air.
But praise God that we don’t have to. Praise God that Jesus did it for us. He walked on the water. He came into our storm. He reached down into our desperation. And His hand was there to grasp when we reached out for a savior.
So listen, if you’re in the middle of a struggle, take comfort. It’s easy to become frustrated with yourself and it’s easy to allow guilt and shame to enter into your life. Understand though, that in your trials, God is close to you. Even after you’ve failed for what seems like the hundredth time, just cry out to Christ and take hold of Him. Sometimes that’s the only thing left to do…and it’s beautiful. Keep fighting your sin and keep pursuing Christ, but remember, He will never let you go.
“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” – Philippians 3:12
It’s not about you walking on the water. It’s about trusting God to pull you out of it.