“And 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.” (Matthew 14:22 KJV)
This must have been odd for the disciples. The instruction was clear that they needed to get into the ship and go to the other side. They exercised some faith in knowing that he would be with them soon. Yet as the rowing got harder against the wind and waves and the night got longer, do you think there was anyone questioning why He had sent them out there? Have you ever received direction from the Lord that you thought it so clear that it could not have been clearer if He was standing right there giving the order, and then as you got out on the lake you begin to question what it was that you thought you heard? The version of this story in the gospel of Mark has an interesting verse in it. “For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.” (Mark 6:52 KJV) This becomes evident early on in the story because when they do see Jesus walking on the water they dismiss what they have seen as though it was only a ghost. Would not someone who has been given clear instruction be more likely to rejoice at even the ghost of an encouraging vision? It would seem true that we all can get caught up in the mechanics and stress of attempting to accomplish the task we feel that we have so clearly been given. Still when we see the power of God walking through the wind and waves that we so struggle with; we discount His realness despite the fact that we left with clear instruction knowing full well that Jesus was going to meet us and He did not have a boat.
Simultaneously, we are afraid. Perhaps because we wonder why we struggle so and see Him in such power that we are concerned about our abilities. It is well that we are concerned. It may be that it seems so needless for us to be struggling if He was going to meet us out there anyway. Would it not have been easier if we just waited to begin for Him? Yet, that was not His instruction. The important detail to watch is not their concerns, their discounts, or their questions, but rather what was done when they recognized Jesus. “…they cried out for fear.” (Matthew 14:26 KJV) When you see Jesus, the important thing to do is to “cry out”. No reassurance was given, no sea or waves were calmed, and no one offered the testimony of faith in coming out to Jesus without first the acknowledgment of who He is and calling to Him for help. Whether Jesus calmed the sea or not, the important thing was the faith that is revealed by crying out to Jesus for help with the task that He has given us. Remember, Peter steps out of the boat in faith before the storm is calmed.
The best part of this story to me is Peter’s realization when Jesus asks him why he doubted. Why he doubted? Are you kidding? Really, look at this closely. Notice that Peter stepped out with the storm still raging. Not after the storm was calmed. It was clearly not the capabilities of the storm that he doubted. Notice that Jesus asks this question after Jesus catches Peter and it is the hand of Jesus that is currently holding Peter afloat. Peter is not even back in the boat yet. So, it is not the sufficiency of Jesus that is in question. Yet somehow we are left to conclude, as it hits us right between the eyes in our own lives, that it is our own unworthiness, insufficiency, and inability to manage what ought to be surrendered that causes our doubt.
“And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matthew 14:31 KJV)