By Jason Soroski, Crosswalk.com
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” - Matthew 6:33
Walking on Water
There is a series of events recorded in the Gospels that stand out as among the most amazing and incomprehensible to ever occur - the account of people walking on water, specifically Jesus and Simon Peter. Matthew’s account tells us this, “When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ ‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’ ‘Come,’ he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.” (Matthew 14:26-29)
Like the Resurrection itself, walking on water is seemingly impossible, and so it becomes a flashpoint of faith – those who accept that it happened are strengthened by it, and others who reject it end up rejecting the Gospel as a whole. At the heart of it is the idea of taking a literal step of faith. Walking into something we can’t understand and have no previous experience with. We can only take this kind of step in complete trust.
We are not necessarily surprised to read of Jesus walking on water, we expect miracles from Him! It is Peter’s brief water-walking adventure that stands out as different and extraordinary. It lasts just a moment, but it is a moment that we see Peter doing the unimaginable and unthinkable. He is a regular person just like us taking an extraordinary step of faith by training his eyes firmly on Jesus. The question is not whether we can do the same, but rather if we have the courage to do it.
It Is for Freedom that We Have Been Set Free
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” - Galatians 5:1
How many times do we choose the ordinary, the safe, and the comfortable in exchange for taking a step of faith and experiencing true freedom? And why do we make that decision? Thinking back to Simon Peter, he was accustomed to being in a boat. Simon Peter was a fisherman who spent most of his life fishing in a boat. These things were not new to him but were quite comfortable and quite familiar.
He knew his way around a boat. He knew everything about fishing, how to read the weather, how to navigate at night, how to do everything that needed to be done in a fishing boat. It was his area of expertise. When Jesus called him away from that and into something extraordinary, he jumped at the opportunity, in this case, literally.
Simon Peter left the boat that he knew so well in order to do something that no human being had ever done before, and he did it solely on the basis that Jesus was calling him out to do it. All he had to do was fix his eyes on Jesus and experience a previously unexperienced human freedom.
Running Back to the Boat
In a breathtaking moment of absolute trust and faith, Peter steps out of the boat and onto the water. And it works. Against common sense and against the laws of physics, he does not sink but actually walks on water. When he is seeking His Kingdom and focusing on Christ, there seems to be nothing impossible. Yet he quickly realizes that none of this should be happening, and instead of looking more intently at Christ, he looks to get back to the safety of his boat.
We see ourselves in Peter’s situation and wonder how he could ever look away from Jesus, how he could ever stop trusting. Yet it turns out that even when Jesus is standing right in front of us, abandoning all we know for something extraordinary, no matter how freeing, can be frightening.
Seeking His Kingdom First, Even When it Is Scary
I think I have been very good at seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness. Until it gets scary, anyway. Then I'm wobbly and utterly horrible at it. When it gets scary, I start making lists of pros and cons: safety and normalcy vs. The unknown and the unusual. Choosing the unusual takes faith. A lot of it. Yet the things that make faith terrifying are the same things that make it liberating.
Just like Peter walking on the sea, we long for freedom. We long for the miraculous. And sometimes God allows us to have it. But when we realize we are free, when we realize we have tapped into a righteousness that is not our own, we get overwhelmed with it; we get scared and we start to falter.
Just like Peter, we breathe in the supernatural, we feel the freedom of faith, and we step out where we have never been, in a way that makes no sense and others won’t understand. Then we start to think, "this isn't normal! None of this is normal!". We soon fall prey to fear and before we know it our eyes are off of Jesus as we start looking for the safety and security of that tiny, dirty little boat we were sitting in before Jesus showed up to call us to something bigger.
We are so frustrated with our sin, with our culture, with the confines of our little boat, yet Jesus is right in front of us and calling us out of it. Jesus is calling us to seek something new, something miraculous, something better. Not our own righteousness that will fail in the end, but His, which is just, perfect, and unfailing.
My prayer for myself, and for all of us, is to find the courage to not just look in the window of His Kingdom as we walk past, not just to think about it sometimes, but to SEEK it out! Walking in faith is not easy. We will be ridiculed for it, and we will likely not understand it ourselves. But when we keep our focus on Jesus, there is no telling what He can accomplish through us.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/KristiLinton
Jason Soroski is a homeschool dad and author of A Journey to Bethlehem: Inspiring Thoughts for Christmas and Hope for the New Year. He serves as worship pastor and in Colorado and spends his weekends exploring the Rocky Mountains with his family. Connect on Twitter, Instagram, or at JasonSoroski.net.