I’ve been preaching through the gospel of Mark on Wednesday nights at Oak Grove Baptist. In Mark 6:45-52, we find the familiar story of Jesus walking on the Sea of Galilee to meet the chosen twelve, who were in a boat, struggling to make their way to the opposite shore through the teeth of a deadly windstorm. In Mark 6:48, we read:
Then He saw them straining at rowing, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by. (N.K.J.V.)
I have several commentaries on Mark’s gospel, but not one of them makes much of an attempt — if they make any attempt at all — to explain that last part of that verse. Why does the Bible say that Jesus would have kept walking right on past those disciples? I mean, if He was going out to rescue them from the wind storm, walking past them and continuing on His way to the opposite shore wouldn’t have provided much help. So, what was He thinking?
I’ll share with you what I shared with my folks at Oak Grove. If you disagree with me, that’s okay because we are all pretty much groping around in the dark on this one anyway. But my best guess is that Jesus intended to walk right past that boat because He wanted those men to raise their faith ceiling and join Him out there on that water!
You say, “Oh, c’mon Russell, that’s crazy.” Okay, maybe it is, but in my defense I offer exhibit A: a guy named Peter who was in that boat that night and somehow took up the challenge of joining Jesus out there on the water. Mark’s gospel doesn’t record this part of the story, but Matthew’s does.
According to Matthew 14:28-33, Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And how did Jesus respond to that audacious request? He said, “Come.” How I’d love to have an accurate picture of that moment. I just wonder if Jesus didn’t have a smile on His face — the smile of a proud parent — when He answered, “Come.” Could it be that Peter was the only one in that boat who had the spiritual capacity that night to really catch what Jesus was throwing? Could it be that he was the only one who understood the incredible offer that Jesus was extending?
Of course, we know how the story ends. Peter steps down out of the boat, walks on the water an undisclosed distance toward Jesus, becomes frightened by the high wind and big waves, starts to sink, and offers up what has been called the Bible’s shortest prayer: “Lord, save me!” Jesus then immediately stretches out His hand (which would seem to indicate that Peter had walked most of the distance to Him) and walks him over to the boat.
But with the rescue comes a certain quote from Jesus, one that I think might just show that Jesus wasn’t so much disappointed IN Peter as He was FOR him. Jesus says, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” In my mind, I hear Jesus saying, “Peter, you had it! You were just about to claim the fullest extent of tonight’s offer. Why did you let up?”
I don’t know where this post finds you in life at this very moment, but it might just be that Jesus is right now extending to you the offer to step out of the boat and join Him on the water. Perhaps the offer involves a move. Perhaps it involves a business opportunity. Perhaps it involves some other type of open door in your life.
Whatever the details are for you specific situation, just know that Jesus doesn’t extend such offers every day. Think about it, Peter never again got the chance to walk on the water, did he? Neither did the other eleven disciples, for that matter. So, it really could be that you are right now dealing with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that is coming straight from the hand of the Lord. And if that’s the case, there is only one question left to ask: How’s your faith these days, Peter?