Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake. But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’
Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’
I used to read this and imagine Jesus striding confidently toward a slowly sinking Peter and reaching out His hand to help the disciple/chump not drown. It’s funny how abrasive Peter is from time to time. Part of that comes from how much he reminds me of myself.
The thing about this that I noticed awhile back is that Jesus’ stride-based aquatic rescue is not in the text. At all.
It just says that “Jesus immediately reached out and caught him.” It would appear that the Lord didn’t have to move much to do this. A freind of mine once said that, “He’s the Lord. He could move like lightning if He wanted to.” I disagree with this one two levels:
One: Jesus is a man. He moved at man speeds. Being God and man didn’t imply that he could run as though he were a superhuman. The fact that He walked on water at all was quite spectacular enough I would think.
Two: The text says no such thing. It’s not there. It’s not implied. Jesus’ movement is limited in the story by what we read. What did He do? He reached out.
What this says to me is that Peter started sinking an arm’s length away from Jesus.
Peter walked all the way from the boat, on the water, and upon getting to an immediate-reach distance from Jesus saw the strong wind and started active drowning.
It isn’t clear either how they got back to the boat. How far from them was He? Hmmm…
Either way, the now-dampened Peter and Jesus get back to the boat and the wind ceases.
I wish I had more moments where I was the guy who walked out there to where I was called and didn’t start to drown 2 feet from Jesus. All the same, if we draw anything from the narrative it can surely be that Jesus intends to not have us drown. Whether we have little faith and boldness or whether we stay in the boat and just get battered by the waves. He meets us where we are and immediately reaches out.
No Hesitation. He means to save us. Even when we happen to be fishermen who might have better spent their childhood learning to swim in the sea that might threaten to drown us while we’re out on it…