Miracle 20:
Walking on the Water
     

A. Passage Selected: Matt. 14:22-33

Also in John 6:15-21, Mark 6:45-52

22And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. 23And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. 24But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. 25And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. 26And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. 27But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. 28And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 30But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.  31And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? 32And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. 33Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God. [i]

B. Presentation Summarized:

1. Context  14:22-24

a.          “Straightway” is a word of urgency and swift movement. Matthew’s record has a strange omission at the conclusion of the miracle of feeding the five thousand. He notes the urgency with which Jesus dismissed the multitudes and the haste in which He sent His disciples over the sea in the boat; however, he does not offer an explanation.

b.          John gives us the reason: “When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone” (John 6:15).

c.          This is another evidence of the remarkable character of the claim of Jesus to be King. He is King by right and title. He will not become King by any democratic process. He is not “elected” King by the will of the people. He is King by the will of God.

d.          He will finally become King by force (see Ps. 2:8–9).[ii]

e.          Jesus has just been offered the crown, but without the cross.  He’s fed the 5000 and sent them away, now He sends the disciples ahead of him to Bethsaida, and He stays behind to pray. 

f.            The disciples are in the boat in the middle of the lake (3 miles from shore).  3:00-6:00 in the morning.  They’ve been rowing a while, probably against the wind.

g.          We mentioned once before that every time the disciples get in a boat, it is time for another test.

2. Content  14:25-33

a.                   The Lord is in the mountains, in the place of prayer. The disciples are down on the Sea of Galilee in a storm and in darkness; they are in the place of peril.

b.                   What a picture this is of our own day. Our Lord has gone on to the Father and is seated at the Father’s right hand. We today are down here on a storm-tossed sea in the place of peril.I love this next verse—3

 

And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea [Matt. 14:25].[iii]

a. Jesus alone on the water (25-26)

1.            Mark says Jesus was intending to pass them by.  Picture it:  The disciples are exhausted, they’ve been rowing for hours against the wind and are probably going nowhere and here comes Jesus, making good time.

2.            The disciples think it is a ghost.  We laugh and ridicule them, but their blunders are there for us to learn from.  This is an example of their lack of faith.

3.            The fourth watch is the morning watch, from three in the morning until daylight. This is the time the Lord walked on the sea, going to His disciples.

4.            Some are inclined to think that will be the watch in which He will come for us at the Rapture. Christ is the bright and morning star for the church, and He will take the church out of the world. We don’t know the date of His coming. There are men who would have us believe that they know the time, but they don’t know. However, I believe that we are in the fourth watch of the night.

 

And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear [Matt. 14:26].[iv]

5.            This is the picture: Our Lord is up there on the mountain, and He sees the disciples in the storm, toiling and rowing, as Mark’s record has it. Then He comes to them in the fourth watch. When they see Him, they say, “It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.”

6.            Somebody is going to say, “Well, they were superstitious.” Yes, there may have been a certain amount of superstition in them, but what would you think if a man came to you walking on the water?

7.            Many years ago over in Tennessee a fellow said, “l didn’t believe in ghosts either until I saw one!” And that is the position of the disciples. They had never seen a spirit before, but they think they are seeing one now![v]

 

b. The Disciples in the boat: fear  (27-28)
(1) The response of Jesus

“Don’t be afraid.  It is I.” The phrase "It is I" also means “I am.”  It was the normal response of a person identifying themself, but with Jesus it takes on special significance.  Here He is identifying himself to them as the one who can walk on the water, i.e. God.  He will use the phrase later in the Garden and knock the soldiers back with the power of the statement.

(2) The request of Peter

“Lord, if it is you...”  Peter models for us what we do.  Lord, I know it is you, but....  Lord, I know you are sovereign, but...  Lord, I trust you, but....  Peter is asking for proof.  We all want proof.

Jesus just says, “Come.”  What control.  What gentleness.  He didn’t lecture Peter.

 

And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water [Matt. 14:28].

(3) Peter has certainly been criticized for this. They say that he should not have asked to walk on water. Well, I rather admire the man. William Carey said, “Expect great things of God, and attempt great things for God.” Certainly Peter did that! I am afraid that most of us are satisfied with little things from God.

Notice that Jesus did not rebuke Peter for asking—[vi]

c. Peter with Christ on the water: faith  (29)
(1) In success

This is not rash or impulsive.  The Lord does not rebuke him.

And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus [Matt. 14:29].

I hear people say that Peter failed to walk on the water, but that is not the way my Bible reads. My Bible says that Peter walked on the water to go to Jesus. This is not failure! Peter asked a tremendous thing of God. No wonder God used him in such a wonderful way during the days that followed. No wonder he was chosen to preach the sermon on the Day of Pentecost.[vii]

(2) In failure

This is rash.  He is successful and soon forgets where his success came from.  Verse 30 says, "seeing the wind."  He begins looking at the circumstances.  He gets his eyes off God.  Then he sinks. We sometimes do great things for God and are ok until we start to think about it.  When we do start thinking about it and analyzing it, we are in trouble.  It is then that we often start thinking that we are doing it on our own.

d. Peter in the water: failure   (30-31)
(1) His condition

He looks at the circumstances. Peter’s story is the story of all of us. We usually begin good.  But in the middle of the situation, we get our eyes off Jesus.  We begin to look at our situation and we have no faith. Peter took his eyes off the Lord Jesus while he was walking on the water.

But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me [Matt. 14:30].

 

(2) His cry

The only thing one bound for destruction can cry.  “Lord, Save me!” When he began to sink, he prayed the shortest prayer in the Bible, “Lord, save me”! If Simon Peter had prayed this prayer like some of us preachers pray, “Lord, Thou who are omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent … ,” Peter would have been twenty-nine feet under water before he would have gotten to his request. Peter got right down to business, and you and I need to pray like that.[viii]

 

(3) His conviction

Jesus says Peter’s problem is his lack of faith, his doubt.  When the circumstances appear overwhelming, it is the result of doubt. If we are trusting God, then nothing will seem overwhelming, because nothing is overwhelming to God. When my kids have a problem, break something or get their shoestrings in a knot, it is overwhelming to them and they come to me and ask "would you fix this…" They assume that I can do anything.  They are still young.  But they have the attitude that we should all have towards God.

e. Peter in the boat with Jesus  (32-33)
(1) Rescue

When they climbed in the boat the wind died. John also reports that the boat immediately arrived at the other side, which in itself seems like another miracle.

Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God. [Matt. 14:32–33].

Our Lord performed this miracle for His own, that they might be brought into the place of faith. Even Simon Peter, who was audacious enough to say, “Lord, bid me come unto thee on the water” and actually walked on the water, which should have cemented his faith, got his eyes off Jesus, and his faith failed. I don’t want to criticize Peter because that has been my problem, also. I have stepped out on faith many times and then have taken my eyes off Him. This is the tragedy of the hour for us in our day. But these things were done that the disciples might worship Him and know that He was the Son of God. [ix]

(2) Reverence

In Matt 14:33 the disciples say, " Of a truth thou art the Son of God!" How do you reconcile their confession in Matt with the hardness of heart statement in Mark?  The Mark passage points out that they did not understand who He was before now.  Now they are beginning to understand.

II. INTERPRETATION

·          Absence of faith in the person of Jesus Christ brings failure.

·          He has the power over the natural elements.

III. APPLICATIONS

·          Jesus often sends us into the storm to test and strengthen our faith. No pain ... no gain (in understanding or faith or whatever God needs to work on.)

·          A hardened heart keeps me from seeing Christ for who he really is. (Mark)

·          There is no success in service for those who have no faith.  They failed with the feeding of the 5000.  They struggle here too.

·          The danger of self-confidence is obvious.

·          There is safety in the person and power of Christ.

·          Prayers don’t have to be long to be effective.  He didn’t follow the “ACTS” formula. (Adoration, Confession, Thanks and Supplication).



[i]The King James Version, (Cambridge: Cambridge) 1769.

[ii]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.

[iii]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.

[iv]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.

[v]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.

[vi]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.

[vii]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.

[viii]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.

[ix]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.