What Jesus Did Not Say To Peter
Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the time Peter walked on water and our Lord’s remarks to him when he sank. I can't help but feel it's incredibly related to our lives now and I want to take a look at what Jesus actually said and what He did not say.
First, He did not rebuke Peter for looking at the storm. We know Jesus has the power to calm storms with a word (Matthew 8:23-27). We also know He is God (John 8:24) and knows all things; so clearly, He would have expected Peter to look at the storm. Why then did He not calm the storm for Peter? The obvious answer is that this was a test of faith however, I believe there is more to it. Hang onto that thought, we'll get back to it later.
Jesus also did not rebuke Peter for being afraid. We often quote Jesus' words, "You of little faith," and sometimes think Peter should have been fearless in that storm but you can have strong faith while being afraid. To show the separation of faith and fear, we need only look at Jesus in the garden before His death. Luke's account says He was in so much agony His, "sweat became like drops of blood" (Luke 22:44). Matthew and Mark tell us that He went to pray the same prayer three times to ask the Father not to let Him suffer. Here's where the faith comes in: Jesus finishes His prayer each time with, "Yet not My will, but Yours be done." In other words - "I'm terrified and don't want to do this. But if this is what You want, I will do it." This is what Jesus expected of Peter. To look at the storm and be afraid yet continue walking toward Him in faith.
One last thing I want to point out that Jesus did not say to Peter. He did not say, “You of no faith.” Clearly Peter had some kind of faith, or he wouldn't have gotten out of the boat in the first place. And when he began to sink his first thought wasn't to try and swim back to the boat or to find something to grab on to but to cry out to Jesus for help. Jesus rebuked Peter for having “little” faith because it was enough to get him out of the boat and enough to remind him Who to call for help but not enough to get him where he was going in the first place.
Now, let’s make an application. There is a storm going on around us right now: a pandemic, rioters, messy politics, and many other things. Fear is a natural part of seeing these things happen, but do we have “little faith” like Peter? I have made several prayers to see a peaceful end to all of it, yet it persists. I'm confident many others have too. Why then does God not calm the storm for us? Because He wants us to look at it and be afraid - yet walk toward Him in faith. Keep in mind what Paul says in Philippians 4:11-13, “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
These lessons have hit personally and made me realize some of my own flaws. I have been afraid, angry, and confused. None of those emotions are wrong necessarily but I let them distract me just as Peter let his fear distract him. The only way to get past all our troubles in this "present distress" is faith. We are all going be afraid, angry, and confused; but we must not have "little faith" during this time. Rather we should be "rich in faith" (James 2:5) and continue to walk toward Jesus while watching the storm rage around us.