Get out of the boat, part 1
by Dr. Clovis Chappell
Peter walking on water
Alessandro Allori, 1535-1607
oil on copper
"Lord, if it be thou, bid me
come unto thee on the water."
KJV, Matthew 14:28
"Lord, if it’s you, tell me to
come to you on the water."
NIV, Matthew 14:28
Our text is Matthew 14:22-33 - I'll wait here while you take a moment to read it for yourself. I have read this story many times yet in spite of it’s familiarity it always grips my heart. I always read it with a thrill of joy. I can never expose my soul to it’s vital truth without being helped and made more hopeful and a little bit better.
Picture the scene on the sea of Galilee in the first century AD. A wooden boat battles to stay afloat in a raging storm. Wind howls and lightning rends the night sky as men struggle with sails and fight waves to the point of exhaustion.
In their darkest hour, tired and discouraged, they are ready to give up. “If only Jesus were here He would know what to do," says one disciple. And suddenly a ghostly figure appears, walking upon the waves. The disciples, not recognizing Jesus, cry out in fear.
You and I have experienced
the same distress.
Many times Jesus comes to us in a way that makes us dread rather than welcome His approach. Sometimes He comes to demand that we give up certain sins or pleasures we’ve grown to love. Sometimes He asks for services our hearts are unwilling to give.
He demands surrenders and sacrifices our flesh has no desire to make. Sometimes Jesus comes to us in the form of great disappointment or great discouragement. Have you ever missed seeing Jesus because He came disguised as a heartache that wounded your soul and scalded your cheeks with tears?
The disciples were afraid until Jesus calmed their fears with a few simple words: "It is I, be not afraid."
When we cannot hear the voice of the Shepherd, John 10:27, fear floods our heart. Hearing His voice and believing what Jesus says quiets the fears of our timid heart. Over and over again God’s message to us rings out, "Fear not.""Lord, if it’s really you,"
shouted Peter, "bid me come to you on the water."
That’s what happens when you hang around Jesus. Your faith grows and you’re willing to attempt the impossible. Have you read your Bible today? In the twenty first century, part of hanging around Jesus is reading and believing your Bible.
As soon as Peter recognized Jesus his fear turned to hope. In the presence of Christ doubt and despair give way to belief. Believing the word of Christ always builds our faith because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God,
Romans 10:17. In the presence of Jesus, impossibilities become possibilities because hope becomes reality.
Are you willing to"Bid me come to you on the water."
get out of the boat?
Peter had no inclination to get out of the boat before Jesus appeared. Christ inspires great faith in the hearts of those who know Him. In the presence of Jesus, we know that great things are possible. Jesus delights in our faith. Have you ever stepped out of your comfort zone? Has the Savior ever delighted in your faith?
Remember the woman with an incurable blood disease, Mark 5:25-34? For her, getting out of the boat meant going to Jesus when no one else had been able to offer a cure. What right had she to expect anything from Jesus?
Would you have encouraged her had you known her plan way back then? “What will you say to Jesus when you approach Him,” you may have asked if you had been her friend in that far off time.
“I am not going to ask for anything,” she would have answered. "I’m simply going to touch the hem of His garment. The results are up to Jesus and I trust Him."
Our human impulse is to laugh at such reckless faith. It simply won’t work, we insist. You must at least ask for something. We would have thrown cold water on her fiery faith or mocked her as mad. Yet on her reckless way she went and when she touched the hem of His garment, without uttering a word, she was healed.
Are you willing to trust Jesus when other Christians refuse to trust Him? All of the disciples could have got out of the boat and walked on water but only Peter trusted Jesus enough to do it."Lord, bid me come,"
said Peter. And what was the reply of of the Master? Jesus could have said, "Peter, you must be crazy. Don't you know the law of gravity is against you? You’ve fished the sea of Galilee all your life. Have you ever seen anyone walk on water?"
But Jesus never says that to any trusting heart. Jesus says, "All things are possible if you believe."
Jesus calls on paralytics to rise and walk and they rise and walk. Jesus commands blind eyes to see and they see. Jesus says, "Fear not!"
and our fears vanish.
Get out of the boat!
Instead of rebuking Peter, Jesus says: "Come."
One word was all it took to get Peter out of the boat. What will it take to get you out of the boat? The boat is your comfort zone. It’s where you feel safe because being in the boat seems better than getting out of the boat to walk on water. But if you want the blessing, if you want the adventure of faith, you must get out of the boat and get your feet wet.
As I read about Christians
who dared to get out of the boat for God, I’ve noticed that the Christian life need not be drab, dull and unexciting. If your Christian life is dull and you're dying on the vine, maybe it’s your time to get out of the boat!
Most disciples prefer to stay in the boat. Most Christians never try to walk on water but shouldn’t we be as adventurous as Peter? Has the spirit of Christian adventure died in your heart? Are you among that great crowd of fearful Christians just waiting to die?“Come”
says Jesus to Peter and he drops his oar, steps out of the boat and walks to Jesus. Some critics paint Peter as too bold, too daring, too open to risk-taking. But remember that the critics will never leave the boat, will never walk on water. They are about to capsize and drown in the storm and Peter steps out of the boat and tries to walk on water. How foolish that seems!
And yet, with rain soaked hair and lightning lit face, Peter is out of the boat, defying gravity, walking on water with Jesus. Nothing holds him up but the power of God. He risks everything on one word from God, “Come.”
There is something admirable about Peter. He had his faults as all of us do. He talked too much; he was impulsive, opinionated. He had a bad temper. Yet when it came to trusting God, for Peter, it was always go time.
What are you willing to attempt for God? Do you have the guts to trust God and get out of the boat at least once in your life? It is better to fail a thousand times than to never attempt anything for God. Get out of the boat, part 2Can I know for sure
I am saved?
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The original sermon by Methodist minister Dr. Clovis Chappell, 1882-1972, is in the public domain. This edition of the sermon has been edited, revised, updated and copyrighted by Rick Brentlinger for use on our website.