Matthew 14:22-33 (New King James Version) – Jesus Walks on the Sea
22 Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. 23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. 24 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea,[a] tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.
25 Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.
27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”
28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.”
29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous,[b] he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”
31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
33 Then those who were in the boat came and[c] worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”
I heard this reading on the Verbum Domini podcast but the translation was a little different. Verse 31 in that reading had, “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?” That jumped out at me.
I thought about Peter having the courage to walk on the water towards Jesus, embracing the new faith he had found. But then, he took notice of the ‘old’ around him – the raging wind, the cascading waves, and he fell back into that ‘old’, lost his faith, and began to sink.
Jesus had mentioned in Mark 2:18-22 about the danger of pouring new wine into old wineskins – the wineskin would break and not be able to hold the new wine. I pondered this image as I thought of Peter first stepping out in faith, and then stepping back into his old patterns.
How many times have we have it said in our parishes – “Why change, it’s always been done this way.” How many of us have had a great idea that we think will help and when we propose it, the reply is, “why change, we’ve always done it this way.” People are refusing to step out in faith, they are refusing to discard the old wineskins.
It all fits in with Jesus coming to fulfill the law rather than discard it. He wanted to radically change us, transform us, just like he was transfigured on Mount Tabor.
How much faith does it take to allow ourselves to be transformed in that way? Could we have been like Peter, walking on the water towards Jesus, even if for a brief moment? Imagine the change that would bring to our lives and to our world if we could do that!