FEATURE ARTICLE

Rev. Dr. Adenike YesufuThursday, September 7, 2017
[email protected]


JESUS IN AND OUT OF BOATS: PETER WALKING ON WATER

he Bible contains many verses and places describing Jesus in and out of BOATS. Jesus started His ministry when He saw two brothers, James and John his brother, in the Boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. Jesus called them to come follow Him. They immediately left their father Zebedee in the Boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Jesus.

From then on Jesus and Boats became a constant picture. Jesus preached from Boats: at times Jesus will get into the Boat, sit down turning the Boat into a pulpit, from where He would teach and preach to the large crowd always around. There was an account in Mathew 13 of Jesus going out of the house and sitting by the sea. A great multitude of people were gathered together. Jesus then stepped into the Boat sat down and began to speak to them. This was when He told them the three parables about Sowers. When Jesus has finished telling them all the three parables the Bible says "He stepped out of the Boat".

Jesus spent time, a lot of times, with His disciples in the Boat. He was always comfortable in the Boat. Some of His miracles are linked to Boats. There was a time when Jesus was in the Boat with His disciples and there was a severe storm, but Jesus was sleeping and his disciples were really scared. They woke Him up and He commanded the storm to stop. His disciples wondered what type of man He is that even the sea would obey Him. Jesus disciples had seen Him work miracles and watched Him do many acts of healing around the sea and Boats. We also read that Jesus after being told about the death of John the Baptist, departed from where He was by Boat to a deserted place to be by Himself.

Mathew 14 however has a focus on Peter one of the disciples stepping out of the BOAT to walk on water with Jesus. After feeding the five thousand Jesus made His disciples get into a Boat to go before Him to the other side. He sent them away in a Boat hoping to join them later. Jesus stayed behind. He then went up to pray on a mountain by Himself and He was there till evening. As Jesus was finishing His prayers there was a severe storm. Jesus saw that the Boat the disciples were in was in distress, so Jesus decided to go out to rescue them. Instead of taking another Boat to sea Jesus decided to walk on water to the Boat in distress. When the disciples saw Him they thought He was a ghost. Jesus assured them that it was He and Not a ghost.

Peter the bold one told Jesus if it was really Jesus, He should invite Him Peter to come and join Him. Jesus immediately invited him, with a simple "COME". Peter RESPONDED. He then stepped out of the Boat without thinking, into the water and walked on water for a few seconds before he realized what he was doing. The wind became boisterous; Peter became AFRAID and shouted "LORD SAVE ME". Jesus caught his hand and they both went into the Boat. After that the severe wind ceased.

Let it be noted that Peter was NOT the only disciple in the boat. Why was Peter the only one who asked Jesus to invite Him to come to Him? Why was Peter the only one who actually stepped out of the Boat to go and meet Jesus? Peter was different. Peter is like the Head Prefect, the most vocal, the one who asks questions of Jesus, the one who would always reject the idea that Jesus would one day leave them. Peter had a different perspective of the whole incident of Jesus walking on water. It took only one word from Jesus for Peter to jump overboard from that Boat. There was something about Peter that made him so courageous as to jump out of the Boat to respond to Jesus invitation? Peter was just an ordinary man, who did an extra ordinary thing by taking a leap of faith. Peter is the only one in the Bible who achieved that feat apart from Jesus. It's a remarkable story. I am sure the experience stayed with Peter for the rest of his life. Peter knew the glory of walking on the water.

But what gave Peter that courage? I think it is Peter's knowledge of Jesus. Peter had been with Jesus from the beginning so he knew Jesus from deep within Him. In his relationship and interaction with Jesus, Peter has learned some significant things about Jesus. When He once told Jesus that He was the "Son of God" Jesus told Him that flesh and blood did not reveal that to Him. Peter's action on this occasion demonstrated that he was totally a believer in Jesus. This single act of Peter made him stand out among all the disciples.

I have always wondered about the remaining disciples in the boat. Why was there no significant reaction from them as regards Jesus invitation to step out of the Boat and come to Jesus? They were watching all that was happening with curious interest. They behaved like spectators of a show. They were equally Jesus disciples. They knew Jesus. They too must have learnt something from their interaction with Him. Why were they indifferent to Jesus invitation? Why did they not jump into the sea like Peter? What type of faith did the other disciples in the boat have? What strength of character did they demonstrate by refusing Jesus invitation to come and meet Him on the water? We would never know.

The other disciples missed the opportunity of a unique experience by not being adventurous like Peter. They stayed put. They became lethargic. They never got out of the Boat. What could be going on in their minds? What were they thinking? They were probably thinking "This Peter again" some of them might think he was deluded to want to walk on water like Jesus. Peter did not think twice. He just did it while the other disciples were busy rationalizing. At times people get motivated when they see somebody do something that they have thought was impossible. Peter's instant reaction to Jesus invitation should have spurred them into action. But it did NOT. I have always wondered why!!!!!!

John Ortberg in 201I wrote a book titled "If You Want to Walk on Water, You Have to Get out Of the Boat". The book became VERY popular because the tittle of the book is a fundamental truth: "If you want to walk on water, you've got to get out of the boat. If you want changes in your life you have to do something different. If you want to experience the power of God in your life, you've got to take a step of faith." What are some of the factors that can prevent people from taking steps of Faith like Peter did? Factors that would make them get stuck in one spot like the rest of the disciples?

The first FACTOR I believe is FEAR. Fear of the unknown. Fear of what is happening around. Some people live in perpetual fear of everything. Remember there was a storm and it was dark. But Peter did not flinch. Peter chose to respond to Jesus. Peter did not focus on the circumstances around Him. His focus was on the One who invited Him. Fear paralyses. Fear prevents us from fully trusting God and therefore experiencing what God has in store for us. The Bible in many places tells us that Fear is not of God. 2 Timothy 1:7 says For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. Also in many places in the Bible we are urged NOT to be fearful. Isaiah 41:10 says Fear not; for I am with you. Be not dismayed; for I am your God: I will strengthen you; yes, I will help you, yes, I will uphold you with the right hand of my righteousness. Psalm 23 even tells us, though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil: for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me. Psalm 27:1 says The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Fear is not justified.

The second factor is COMFORT ZONE. The fact is most of us like our "comfort zones". We get stuck in one corner and we never dare to step out. At times many people feel so safe and comfortable in their Boat and may NOT want to get out of it. Our Boat may be our house, our car, our job, our money, our position at work, our relationship, a bad habit or addiction, our tradition, our friends, our family, or anything that make us feel comfortable. Anytime we refuse to step out of our Comfort Zone to do something that Jesus is calling us in faith to do, we are missing some other blessings that the Lord has in store for us. We can only respond if we clearly hear the simple Invitation from the Lord like it was said to Peter. The other disciples probably did not even hear the invitation. They were too comfortable in the Boat to pay any attention to Jesus invitation. Stepping out of the Boat involves obedience. When we learn to discern the calling of God in our lives and respond with a resounding YES and get out of the Boat, we really do experience God's power in our lives. When people decide to get out of the Boat, they are never quite the same.

The third factor is lack of TRUST. When it comes to trusting Jesus, what keeps us from getting out of the Boat? What keeps us from daring to trust Jesus? To trust Jesus we must know Jesus, in the deepest most personal sense. Only through a personal relationship with Him will we be able to recognize Him. Only as we grow to know Christ deeper will we be able to respond to Him like Peter did. How is your relationship with Jesus? What kind of relationship do you have with Jesus that will make you even think of getting out of that Boat? Peter stepped out of the Boat because he was confident about who Jesus was. Above all he knew about His power. How many of us really KNOW Jesus enough to have that confidence and trust in Him. Most times people allow a sense of insufficiency, problems, busyness, and distractions to keep them away from their focus on Jesus. Many of us will have a million reasons for wanting to continue to stay in the Boat. Reasons like: "I have many other things to do". "I will come out of the Boat when my life is better". "I will leave the Boat when it is no more dark, when the storm is over". It was dark in the night and the storm was still raging, yet Peter still got out of the Boat. Walking on water is about trusting God and experiencing God's power enabling us to do what we could not do otherwise. Most people would not have the guts to step out of the Boat in that weather, even in the face of Jesus beckoning to them.

In terms of Jesus doing something different, in many situations, the disciples have seen Jesus perform the extraordinary when he was in the Boat. Jesus calmed the storm when He was in the Boat. Second time the storms did not calm down until Jesus got into the Boat. However this time, it was NOT Jesus doing the extraordinary, It was Jesus giving opportunity for His disciples to do the extraordinary. Jesus was OUTSIDE of the Boat. I am sure some of them would be debating what can Jesus do? He is not in the Boat anyway. I am sure Jesus stepped out of the Boat not to be dramatic but to prove to them that His powers are not limited to locations and situations. Jesus power is immense and extensive. How many of us know that?

Since this incident Jesus has been sending out invitations to people to Step Out of the Boat and come walk on Water with Him. Some have responded. Some have not. Jesus can beckon us anytime to come and walk with Him on water. Wondering how many of us will respond to that call? So if Jesus calls us in a storm, how many of us would be prepared to get out of the Boat to walk with Him on water? How many of us would follow in the footsteps of Peter? Leaving the Boat and walking on water may not be doing big things. It could just be doing little things for Jesus like: feeding the poor, visiting the shut-in, being there for somebody else, and being a son or daughter of encouragement like Barnabas, offering a word of comfort to someone in distress, saying a prayer or two for someone in the shadow of death. It could be one of a million things.

Today Jesus is still looking for people who will get out of the Boat. Jesus is sending out that invitation for people to COME out of the Boat and come to Him, not in a Boat but walking on water like He did. I don't know what this means for you. When we take God's call seriously and have the faith to get out of the Boat, some things do change, our world becomes better. In this particular instance, Jesus was NOT IN the Boat. Jesus was OUTSIDE of the Boat. But Peter was IN the Boat. Peter then stepped out of the Boat. It was outside of the Boat that Peter experienced the saving grace of Jesus. Peter was rescued from sinking. He later gets into the Boat after he was rescued. Sometimes to receive the blessings that God has for us, we must be ready to step out of our Boats because our blessings may be OUT in the water and not IN the boat.

Today Jesus is inviting YOU reading this article to STEP out of the Boat and WALK on water with Him. Will you have the same boldness that Peter had? Do you believe in Jesus and His ability to save? This is the time to ask Jesus for the COURAGE to respond to His invitation. It is also the time to ask for HELP to be more OBEDIENT to Jesus, to always step out of our Boats as OFTEN as Jesus requires it of us. Amen Amen Amen.

IMAGES IN THE NEWS