Do you ever feel like you are drowning or sinking? Life can quickly pile up and feel like we are being swallowed up by the waves of life and there is no lifeboat near us. You can feel encouraged to know that Jesus and Peter felt the same way.
In the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 14 we see some events beginning to surround Jesus all at once. In verse 3 we see where Herod has John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin and disciple, arrested and beheaded. Jesus responds to the heartbreaking news by wanting to be alone for a little while. Jesus felt grief and knew what it was like to just want some time by yourself. But, Jesus was not given that time.
“When Jesus heard of it (John the Baptist’s death), he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick” (Matthew 14:13-14)
Next, his disciples begin to complain.
“When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, ‘This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the village and buy food for themselves’” (Matthew 14:15)
Jesus was still grieving the loss of his friend John the Baptist, a crowd continued to follow him and would not give him some time alone, and now his disciples are complaining about the crowds and want him to send them away hungry. How easily it is to relate to Jesus at this moment. We have all received some form of bad news and had things to continue to pile up. In the middle of receiving the news of a death of a loved one, a broken relationship, or maybe a medical diagnosis, we still have demands at work, our spouse is wanting something, the children are fighting and dinner is still not cooked.
Jesus responds in a way many of us would. He puts himself and the complaints of others aside and he meets the needs of the people. He feeds them. Finally, Jesus gets some alone time as he sends the disciples to the other side in a boat and sends the crowds away. Jesus still makes it a priority to find time for himself and the Father. He makes prayer a priority even in the midst of responding to all of life’s demands. We would do well to take note and follow his example.
What happens next is powerful. Jesus walks on water and then he allows his disciple to do the same.
“During the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them, walking on the sea” (Matthew 14:25)
The disciples were afraid and thought it might have actually been a ghost rather than Jesus. Peter challenged him and said if it was really Jesus then he wanted him to allow Peter to come to him walking on water as well.
“He (Jesus) said, ‘Come’. Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus” (Matthew 14:29)
Soon, however, the raging storm around him gets the best of Peter and he begins to sink. He reaches for the hand of Jesus and cries out for him. What does Jesus do? He responds of course and reaches his hand out toward Peter and pulls him out of the water.
The difference in how we handle the storms of life is determined by where our eyes are fixed. Jesus made prayer a priority. His eyes were fixed on the Father. Peter let his eyes begin to focus on the storm rather than the Savior and he began to sink.
Where are your eyes fixed?