Jesus Is Stronger Than Fear
And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”
Many sermons and writings have been done by many people regarding Jesus walking on the water. It’s an important scripture regarding faith, yet an equally important scripture regarding doubt and fear. All three can have an enormous effect on our lives, for the good and the bad, if we allow them too.
In this particular scripture, Jesus and the disciples just finished a day of preaching to thousands of people, healing and feeding them, no doubt in heavy heat as you have to consider their location. We know that although we may be used to different climate conditions where we live, it can still have an effect on us after a while. They had also recently heard about the beheading of John the Baptist so their emotions had to have been effected as well. They had to be tired and were looking forward to rest. Jesus dismissed the crowd of people and sent the disciples in a boat to the other side of the sea toward Capernaum because, as we see in John 6:15, the crowd was about to take Him by force and make Him their king and He knew that wasn’t part of His mission on earth in that respect. So, He not only sent the crowd away but He also sent the disciples away because Jesus knew that if they remained, so would the people. Jesus then went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. As tired as He probably was, He knew the importance of taking the time at the end of the day to be with God to recharge and valued His alone time with Him.
Once the disciples were in the boat and rowing to the other side, we read how a storm hit and the boat was tossed by the waves as the wind was contrary. Contrary means opposite in nature, character, direction or position. In other words, the wind wasn’t doing what it’s supposed to be doing and it was tossing them around, possibly even sending them in a wrong direction as can happen, making it impossible to steer the boat. At this point with the busyness of the day and now rowing for hours in a strong storm, they had to be exhausted and even fearful though some were experienced fishermen. Even when we are experienced workers in our jobs, we can become tired and fearful when heavy storms of life hit where it’s beyond our control. We must also take notice in verse 25 it states that Jesus came out to them in the fourth watch of the night which is between 3:00am and 6:00am. This means that Jesus had continued praying even through the storm. He didn’t quit to run for cover or become fearful and stop praying but stood firm in faith, not allowing the strength of the storm to deter or weaken Him. Knowing the disciples were out in the middle of the storm, we can assume He was also praying for them as well. This is how we must be when we are caught by storms or problems of life. Although the wind and the waves can toss us around a bit as it did the disciples, we must remain steadfast in faith until the Lord comes to deliver us from the situation and calms the storm.
Once Jesus finished praying and left the mountain, He walked on the sea towards the disciples. However, due to their fear, their fatigue and the strength of the storm, they were unable to see clearly that it was Jesus coming towards them and they thought it was a ghost which caused them even more fear. When we are in the midst of intense situations and we get tossed around, sometimes we may not be able to see clearly and become a bit lost, not even realizing we are going in a different direction. As with the disciples, we may not even be able to tell when Jesus is coming towards us to help us or is close to us and feel it is something bad or evil approaching causing even more fear. When we allow the problem to cause fear in our hearts, we neglect to pray and do not trust that God will rescue us. Our vision becomes cloudy and we are unable to see and sometimes unable to hear, clearly. Jesus, however, recognizes their problem and knowing their thoughts, quickly identifies Himself as we see in in verse 27:
But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”
This should have calmed them down instantly now that Jesus had made it clear He was there with them but they still had doubt and needed more proof. With everything they had gone through with Him and as close to Him as they were, they still failed to recognize Jesus and needed more proof to truly believe as we see in verse 28 when Peter said:
“Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
Peter was asking to do what no one but Jesus had ever done…walk on the water. Water is not a solid form so we cannot walk on it firmly without falling in. Once in it, if the conditions are right, we can either remain in place or be tossed around by the waves and be pulled under. Peter knew the water well as his job was a fisherman and he had to learn to understand the conditions of the weather and how to maneuver the boat in those conditions. He wasn’t inexperienced, but he was human and could only do so much. So, Peter knew if it was truly Jesus, then nothing would be impossible for him (Peter) to do and that is called faith. Knowing that if Christ is involved, then it’s going to happen no matter what. Faith the size of a mustard seed is all that was needed and we see Peter had it because once Christ commanded him to come on the water, Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water towards Jesus. But there is something that can stop us dead in our tracks, causing us to retreat or sink into the waters of emotion and that is fear. Fear is a very powerful emotion that the enemy uses skillfully against us in order to get us to stop what we are doing for the Lord even when God has given us the authority and power to do the job. Fear can cause us to feel so defeated in our lives that the thought of even trying to move makes it impossible. Our minds and bodies go on lock down and we become paralyzed, doubtful and defeated. It can cause us to forget everything that Christ had done previously in our lives, coming to our rescue, and only see what we can’t do. Fear can make a normal day feel abnormal. Fear is a bondage that only Christ can break but in order for Him to break it, we must trust Him and have faith that He will do it. We must trust in what He tells us in His Word. Philippians 4:13 states:
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”
It doesn’t say I can do some things, a few things, or only in certain things. It clearly states “I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.” Due to obedience in following Christ’s command to come and then the faith that Christ would give him the power to do so, Peter was able to do the impossible…walk on water during a storm…because he kept his focus on Christ and had faith. But it wasn’t until the storm intensified and Peter removed his eyes from Christ to focus on the storm, did he sink in the sea and call out for Jesus to rescue him. What was Jesus response as He reached down to lift Him back up out of the water?
“O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Peter had Jesus right in front of him and within reach and he still became fearful and doubted. He studied with Him, lived with Him, talked with Him, was ministered by Him and was one of His closest friends, yet Peter still had doubted it was Jesus coming towards him even after He identified Himself and feared the storm that surrounded him. In other words, at that moment in time while on the water with Jesus directly in front of him commanding Peter to come, Peter somehow felt the storm was more powerful than Jesus, allowing fear and doubt to enter into his heart causing him to sink. Peter stopped believing in the power he had been given by Christ to “come”. He had the power to move, but he stopped believing in it due to the storm and words of doubt that went through his mind.
How many times during our storms has Jesus identified Himself to us, letting us know He was there and everything would be ok, yet we doubted and had fear. How many times had Jesus commanded us, in the midst of a problem, to step out of the boat and move forward only for us to walk a few steps in faith, have fear and doubt once the storm intensified, causing us to sink in the sea of emotions. How many times have we allowed the words and actions of others to stifle, remove or steal the power and authority that Christ had given to us to move forward and do the impossible because of intimidation and fear. How many times have we allowed the enemy steal that power and authority through that same intimidation and fear. When will we learn to recognize fear as an emotion that can be dismantled by faith. When will we learn that fear, along with intimidation, is a highly effective tool of the enemy that is used to control us and stop us from healing, growing and moving in the direction that God wants us to go. When will we realize that Jesus is stronger than any problem, any person, any army or any enemy, human or spiritual. We must decide who we choose to believe in and have faith in…Jesus, other people or the appearance of situations going on around us. Sometimes people, the enemy and even ourselves can cause us to feed into our fears convincing us we can’t do this or that. That the situation we are in is impossible and there is no hope so just give in which completely goes against what Christ tells us in Philippians 4:13. It’s in those times when we have no control over the situation that is going on in our lives, where God glorifies Himself the most because He wants us to see that He is the one in control and not us. This will not only glorify Him but it will raise our faith to another level. Even when the situation looks the worst and it seems like it will never get better, even when everyone says it’s impossible, even when others will say there is no hope…stand firm in faith that Christ will have the last word and will take care of everything even if it’s in a way contrary to what you think it should be. Have faith that the impossible can be done and believe Christ’s words in Matthew 19:26:
But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
What storm in your life are you allowing to be stronger than the One who can calm the raging seas? What problem are you giving more strength to through fear instead of believing in the One who created you? Who are you listening to that is telling you that you can’t succeed or overcome instead of listening to the One who tells you that you can do all things through Him who strengthens you?
Today is the day to make your choice to either remain in bondage to fear and doubt or turn away from it and turn towards the One who can empower you to defeat it by believing what is written in 1 Timothy 1:7:
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Who do you choose to believe?