Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What Peter learned

The idea of Peter wanting to walk on water bugs me. Was he faithful for asking to join Jesus or was he proud in thinking he deserved divine intervention? Or did he just lack common sense?

In Matthew's account of Jesus walking on the sea to the disciples' boat, we get the idea of Jesus being master over the elements. He could stop a storm and stroll on top of water.

But there's another component to this story as well. in the Bible, the sea also represents chaos, danger, and death. Jesus, in walking on top of that, was revealing that he could master those elements as well. He was not bound chaos and death.

A boat was a life-saving device, protecting those inside from the sea. Peter asked Jesus for permission to leave that protection to come to the Lord.

When Peter became afraid, Jesus saved him but also rebuked him: "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" (Matt 14:31)

I take Jesus' rebuke seriously. Would Peter have been better off staying in the boat?

Was Peter trying to get closer to the Lord or was he trying to align himself with a person of power? Was his attempt to one-up his fellow disciples or to leave safety for a walk over chaos and death?

Jesus' rebuke makes me think his intentions were mixed.

Peter had a lot to learn before he could go change the world for Jesus. Faith was at the core of that. The next time Peter leaped from a boat, he met a resurrected Jesus who invited him into ministry. (John 21) Broken and humiliated by his denial of Jesus, Peter found Jesus ready to care for him, asking him to care for others.

We never hear of Peter walking on water again, but we definitely hear of him giving everything he had to obey Jesus' command.

Peter had failures but through them he learned this:
Set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed. Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance.1 Peter 1:13-14

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