“So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.” ( Matthew 14:29).
Most of Jesus’ miracles consisted of restoring a body or a mind to normalcy. He restores a “withered hand” (Matt. 12:13). A “withered hand” is not normal. Jesus heals it, that is, restores it to being functional and normal. A man is crippled for 38 years. Most people can walk so Jesus heals the lame man and returns him to normal, that is, he is given an ability to walk (John 5:8). The uniqueness of Peter walking on the water is this: it is not a restoring to the natural and normal use of things but rather, it is taking the natural and going beyond it. It is the SUPER natural life that is now exhibited in Peter, not the natural. Peter in the boat was already normal since he was sitting there in the boat like the other disciples! But getting out of the boat, in a storm, and walking on the water to Jesus, is beyond normal and natural. It is rising above the normal and going beyond it. It is a life that only Jesus can provide.
Anyone who has been a Christian for any length of time understands that the Christian life is not a “natural” life. God calls us to a lifestyle and a work that supernatural. Especially as leaders, we must make decisions that put our reputation and ministries at risk. When Peter walked on the water, he gave encouragement to all of us who serve the risen Christ. God calls us to do things that are scary. God calls us to do things that are impossible. It’s risky. Here are three thoughts from this story that will help us take risks for Jesus Christ.
- Peter asked Jesus for permission before he stepped out of the boat
Peter didn’t just jump out of the boat upon seeing Jesus. Proper risk is not reckless because true and healthy risk seeks to hear from Jesus Christ and then follow his guidance. Sometimes that guidance comes as an inner persuasion or deep impression in our heart. There is often a struggle as we weigh the costs. Take the risk but ask permission.
Proper risk is not reckless because true and healthy risk seeks to hear from Jesus Christ and then follow his guidance.
- We can trust Jesus to compensate for any lapse in faith
J.D. Greear , in his book “Gaining by Losing”, makes this statement about risking for God: “The Master is gracious and competent enough to handle any mistakes that are made in the pursuit of risk”. When we decide to risk our finances or futures for the church and the kingdom of God, we should remember that Peter did to. He stepped out and then noticed the waves were taller than he was! He started to sink. Was it the end? No, Jesus is faithful. He has more ire directed toward those who do not risk and seek to stay safe than those who take the risks and fall. He called those unwilling to risk anything “wicked and slothful servants”! (Matt. 25:26). I have learned that risking for God and his kingdom is actually safer than staying in our comfort zones of perceived safety and security. I say “perceived” because safety and security in this life is a mirage. It doesn’t exist. The truly safe people are those who risk everything and follow Jesus even into the wind and the storm.
- Finally, healthy risk results in the worship of Jesus as the Son of God
The text says, “And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God’” (Matt 14:32-33). After seeing Jesus and Peter on the water, the other disciples wondered at the miracle and worshipped Jesus. In the same way, the history of missionary advancement in the history of the church was always accompanied by risk. William Carey risked all for India. Adoniram Judson risked all for Burma. Hudson Taylor risked all for China. In all these adventures of faith, we see Jesus ultimately glorified. Evangelism, church growth and church planting, giving money, teaching a class, getting married, having children, are all examples of things that require some degree of risk. Life is full of it. The safest risk with the best returns are those we make for Christ and his Kingdom. In his book “Risk is Right: Better to Lose Your Life than Waste It” , John Piper studied risk in the Bible and in history. His conclusion was, “The Christian life is a call to risk. You either live with risk or you waste your life”. To that I say, “Amen”.
The truly safe people are those who risk everything and follow Jesus even into the wind and the storm.