Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. (Matthew 14:25–31)
Having just fed a hungry crowd of five thousand after a day of teaching, Jesus was exhausted. He sent the disciples to find shelter on the other side of the lake while he went to pray. But the disciples encounter a squall and spend much of the night trying to cross the lake. Whereas Jesus was in the boat when a storm arose previously, this time they are on their own. But by now they know that Jesus is interceding for them, and will come to them.
And he does so in a miraculous way, walking on the water. The disciples are depleted from the day’s ministry and a night of slapping on the waves; in their exhaustion they wonder if they’ve seen an apparition. But Jesus reassures them, and his “It is I” could hearken back to Yahweh’s statement of “I am” from the Hebrew scriptures.
Then Peter asks to walk to Jesus. Jesus commands him to come, and – amazingly – he does. Only when he takes his eyes off Jesus does he realize that this isn’t normal. Then he starts to sinks, but knows immediately to cry out to Jesus for help.
The feeding of the multitude and the amazing aqua balancing act bring forth a unified response from the disciples: “Truly you are the Son of God” (v. 33). Likewise, may we give him the authority and rule in our lives, turning to him when we are exhausted or sinking – or when we are flying high.
Prayer: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)