At the urging of my wife, Sheila, I’ve begun the work of populating the non-fiction portion of this site with Lessons at Sea the first of my essays to be updated and published here. Based on the familiar passage in the fourteenth chapter of Matthew’s gospel it explores the familiar story of Peter’s walking on the water with Jesus with a somewhat different conclusion than that traditionally held.
Lessons at Sea
And immediately He made the disciples get into the boat, and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And after He had sent the multitudes away, He went up to the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone. But the boat was already many stadia away from the land, battered by the waves; for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were frightened, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind stopped. And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!” (Matthew 14:22-33)
Like many of the events recorded for us in the Gospel records this incident takes up little space on the written page yet provides a wealth of insight into the Person of Jesus Christ and our relationship to God through Him.
The setting for the event lies at the conclusion of an extraordinary day, one in which the divinity of Jesus is displayed through the feeding of five thousand by means of a small boy’s contribution of five barley loves and two fish. Jesus transformed these meager ingredients into enough food to satisfy all present and the miraculous sign was further evidenced by the collected remnants—enough to fill twelve baskets. (Perhaps one for each of his astonished disciples?) The response of the well-fed multitude was a desire to take Jesus by force and make Him king. Such are the hazards of miracles: signs meant to read one thing are misread by many.