So it occurred to me recently that when Peter walked on water with Jesus that the disciples were watching from the boat.
They were watching.
What were they thinking? Were they jealous, excited, fearful, in awe...?
I have heard many a sermon preached on Peter in this episode, on Jesus or even the storm itself, but I've not heard much about the disciples.
Matthew 14:22 (NLT) reads,
"Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home."
Immediately. Immediately after what? After the feeding of the 5,000, after watching one of the most incredible miracles ever, after a long day, after emotions were running high, after a long long time of listening to the most mind blowing teaching. Immediately when their faith levels were raised. Immediately.
And Jesus didn't just suggest to the disciples that they might like to consider getting back in the boat. He insisted.
Jesus insisted because he knew what was coming next. He knew the faith that would be needed for Peter's water adventure. And he knew that the disciples would be watching.
We're told that the disciples were in trouble. They were far away from land and fighting heavy waves. Physically, emotionally, mentally exhausted.
It's then that the whole Jesus walking on water / Peter joining him jobby happens. Worth noting that they were terrified and fearful... But I want to focus on the impact of watching Peter's faith journey with Jesus.
What happened afterwards?
Afterwards, when Jesus and Peter got back into the boat the storm stopped and the disciples "worshipped" and declared "You really are the son of God".
Peter's encounter with Jesus affected the disciples own faith. Watching their friend trust, rely, walk towards Jesus encouraged and strengthened their own faith.
I recently read the following in Priscilla Shirer's book 'Discerning the voice of God'.
"Monica's life is certainly a case in point. Her friends are blessed and inspired just by hanging around her. Being with her, talking with her, always whets my appetite for a more dynamic relationship with the Lord. She helps me to hunger to experience Him personally and powerfully in my every day existence. I hope you have a friend like that. I hope you are a friend like that."
I think this is the case for the disciples watching Peter with Jesus. Even if jealous, seeing Peter engage, trust and experience the divine is going to make them hunger for the same.
And that's why we need community. That's why we need the church... To encourage, celebrate and spur one another on.
Often we might not think our faith is all that... But when we see a Peter or a Monica living out of the boat on the water it doesn't half make us want to know Jesus on that same level.
I am blessed. I have Peters and Monicas in my life that when my faith isn't strong enough I get to watch them walk on water. I get to sit in the boat and cheer them on when they start to sink. I get to watch from the boat at the incredible work God is doing in their life. I get to go deeper in my own understanding of God without even getting my feet wet. Don't get me wrong, it'd be great to walk on water, but we're not always in a place where that can happen. I'm grateful that Jesus insists we come along and do life together.
I'm grateful that I get to watch from the boat.
I get to watch. And then worship.
Thank you special people in my life who keep on climbing out of the boat so I can watch. You know who you are. X