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What lessons can we learn from Peter’s attempt at walking on water? Why did Peter sink? What makes this account interesting is that Peter started in faith but nevertheless stumbled (or began to sink). Did Peter act too soon before he was spiritually ready?
I think some of these questions are not unlike those in our own lives. We often start off in faith but then the scary waves, of our circumstances, distract us and cause us to take our eyes off Christ. The account of Peter walking on the water is a classic example of starting off in faith but stumbling along the way.
Matthew 14:25-32 NAS77 And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. (26) And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were frightened, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. (27) But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” (28) And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” (29) And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. (30) But seeing the wind, he became afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” (31) And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and *said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (32) And when they got into the boat, the wind stopped.
We all know the outcome, that he started well, but in the end, took his eyes off Jesus, and then began to sink. The interesting thing about Peter, is that he started off acting in faith. Therefore simply starting in faith does not guarantee continued success. Why did Peter sink? Did he not sink when he became afraid? What caused Peter to fear but that he took his eyes off Jesus. We also need to keep our eyes on Jesus rather than our circumstances.
Now the big question is should Peter have gotten out of the boat? There are a number of questions that can be asked about this account of Peter.
Should Peter have gotten out of the boat knowing that the possibility of sinking existed? Was Peter ready, spiritually, to walk on water?
Was Peter predestined to sink from the foundation of the world? (Calvinistic Predestination)
Did Jesus set Peter up for a fall knowing full well that he would only get half way across and then sink? (Maybe to teach us something 2000 years later.) (Arminianism)
Should only greek or hebrew scholars get out of the boat?
These questions, which may seem a little bit academic, have a bearing on whether we will get out of own boat in faith (whatever situation in our own lives to which this might apply). We might ask ourselves if we are also predestined to sink when we get out of our own boat.
Maybe we could also play the dispensationalist card and say that the time of getting out of boats has come to an end because we are now in the age of grace. Could it be that getting out of the boat passed away with the last apostle?
All of these thoughts discourage us from getting out of the boat but what might happen if we closed our theology books and just acted on the words of Jesus, today.
Remember the wise man who built his house upon the rock:
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.  “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.  “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.  “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell–and great was its fall.”
Now, maybe the foolish man said to himself “I’m not a theologian or a greek/hebrew scholar so I should not act on the word” or maybe “my church doesn’t believe in acting on the word”. Do any of these excuses make anyone wise? Or is trusting God even for today?
Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.
So the question is “can anything God reveals about himself, perhaps at a future date, cause us to wish we had trusted him less”? If so then we should not trust God with all our heart but should have leaned to our own intellect (or some other humans). Could it be that, at times, faith really does take a leap of faith?
Food for thought?