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.
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.
We mentioned once before that every time the disciples get in a boat, it is time for another test.
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.
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.
(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.
(1) In success
This is not rash or impulsive. The Lord does not rebuke him.
(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.
(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.
(2) His cry
The only thing one bound for destruction can cry. “Lord, Save me!”
(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.
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.
In Matt 14:33 the disciples say, “You are certainly God’s Son!” 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.