A work in progress, Matthew 14:28-33

Before these events, if someone told you that one of the twelve disciples got out of the boat in the midst of a storm and tried to walk on the water, you might not have been able to guess a name. After these events, one name will always spring onto your tongue: Peter. He was a work in progress, and that’s why we love him.

Matthew 14:28-33

28 Lord, if its you, Peter replied, tell me to come to you on the water.

29 Come, he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, Lord, save me!

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. You of little faith, he said, why did you doubt?

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, Truly you are the Son of God.


Verse 28 contains one of those if-statements signaling that the starting assumption is assumed true; Peter knows that Jesus is speaking, so he solicits a direct order. A shrewd move.

At first, Peter enjoyed complete success in walking to Jesus (verse 29). When the wind became more fierce and came to Peter’s awareness, fear overmatched faith and a gradual sinking process began. Whatever we may say about Peter’s loss of confidence, he knew who to call on to save him: Jesus (verse 30). Jesus solved the immediate problem, including Peter’s lapse (verse 31). Perhaps we see in this that helping disciples of Jesus become mature is not a sink or swim process. It involves both fast assistance and coaching.

Verse 32 has not received much attention. Most commentators indirectly credit Jesus with the fact that the wind stopped after he and Peter got into the boat. Under my theory that demonic action caused these problems, it seems more likely that, absent agitation by these spirits, the wind and water returned to their normal calm state in the pre-dawn hours. The biblical text does not say why the wind stopped, but most of us will realize that going from high wind speed to still is not normal. And Jesus is not the only person capable of acting in the context, even though his decision will be final.

Basking in their rescue by Jesus, the disciples affirm him as the Son of God (verse 33), and they are not wrong, but it is apparent that their grasp of who Jesus is needs to deepen even further.

Copyright 2017 by Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Material originally developed for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

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