Jesus walked with compassion – He invested His life in the hopeless and the hurting. To do so, Jesus had to be selfless – He had to set aside His own desires and needs. The Bible states that you and I are to walk like Jesus – it gives evidence that we are one of His followers (1 JN 2:6). Like Jesus, we must however acknowledge that we cannot walk in our own strength. Jesus said in John 5:19, “I assure you: The Son is not able to do anything on His own, but only what He sees the Father doing…”
Jesus walked in complete dependence upon His Father so that He could fulfill His earthly mission. His sense of mission was strong. He came to seek and save the lost (LK 19:10). He put the Kingdom of God on display. He came to show us the Father. He nurtured eleven men to carry on His mission. The size and importance of His mission kept Him dependent upon His Father.
Our dependence upon God in many, if not most cases, is for our own benefit. We depend upon God for our salvation as we should. We trust Him to provide for our physical and emotional needs as well. We ask God to provide for our food and shelter. But are we trusting God to give us the strength and guidance so that we can reach the lost and serve the hurting?
There is an account recorded in Matthew 14 that captures for me the idea of total dependence upon God. Not only do verses 22-33 show us what total dependence looks like, they show us the outcome of dependence and how to get there. Let me set the stage. It is around 3 a.m., the disciple’s are in a boat in the middle of a vicious storm, when Jesus comes walking towards them upon the water. He knew where they were. He knew their situation. They have been struggling for hours. He has been praying the entire time. He couldn’t physically see them in the storm but He knew right where they were.
Verse 26 tells us that when the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water they were terrified! They thought it was a ghost. Immediately Jesus cried out to them, “Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid!” Jesus knew that they had enough. His purpose had been fulfilled. It was time to show grace and mercy. Peter cries out, “Lord, if it’s you command me to come to you on the water!” His request isn’t rooted in fear or doubt – He knows that it is Jesus. Peter didn’t ask for a promise or protection. He didn’t ask Jesus to calm the storm. He asked for a command. He asked for an opportunity to be with Jesus. He knew it was better to be with Jesus on the waves then to be in the boat without Him. Peter got out of the boat and began walking toward Jesus on the water. He dared to be different. That’s total dependence.
I love reading in Scripture about people’s walk with God. Adam and Eve walked with God in the cool of the evening. Joshua walked around Jericho. Moses and the Israelites walked in the desert for 40 years. Paul walked on the road to Damascus. But Peter, he walked on water. Now that’s a walk! He shows us what total dependence looks like. In Peter’s walk we find several ways to increase our dependence upon God.
First, Peter acknowledged that Jesus was his Master and in doing so, declared himself to be His slave. In verse 22, Jesus commands Peter and the other disciples to get into the boat. They really didn’t like the idea. Like the crowd, they felt that Jesus was to rescue them from Roman oppression. In spite of his own desires, his own plans, Peter surrendered to the authority of his Master. He got into the boat. Total surrender to the Master is the first step towards total dependence.
Second, Peter sought to be in the presence of Jesus. His love for Jesus was obvious. Peter knew that getting out of the boat was dangerous, maybe deadly. He was an experienced fisherman. But he had to be with Jesus. He knew that when the night grows darker than it’s ever been, that when the waves are larger than they have ever been, there is no better place to be than with Jesus. Peter hungered to be with Jesus on the water. Intimacy with Jesus will foster greater dependence.
Third, Peter sought to know the will of Jesus. In verse 28 Peter asked, “Lord, if it is you command me to come to you on the water.” Peter’s request reflects his desire to be directed by Jesus. Peter was saying, “If it is your will… command me!” Peter didn’t ask for safety. He asked for an opportunity – an opportunity to be in the perfect will of God and to be with Jesus. Knowing the will of God creates tension within us – will we obey or stay in our comfort zones? Obedience strengthens our dependence upon God.
Finally, Peter got out of the boat. We all have places of comfort. We love security and the peace that it brings us. But God didn’t create us to stay in the boat. You and I were created by our heavenly Father to be water-walkers. We are to be people of faith. It is how we please our Father in heaven (Heb. 11:6). God beckons us to step out of the boat, maybe gently, but out of the boat for His glory and for the good of others. Stepping out of the boat fosters deep dependence upon Jesus.
This passage wasn’t about water walking. That’s not the miracle. This story isn’t about Jesus’ ability to calm storms. That’s not the miracle either. The miracle in this story is that blind eyes now see. The disciples declared, “Truly You are the Son of God!” There’s your miracle. That’s what happens when we get out of the boat and live for God’s glory. When you and I live in total dependence upon God people are encouraged. They’re given a glimpse of God’s power and glory. When you step out of the boat, when God puts His power and glory on display through your life, people are transformed. The blind see. Those dead in their trespasses and sin, find new life in Jesus.