The crowds were home, safe and dry (Mathew 14:22-33). The gusty winds that tormented the disciples were no threat to them. The storm had the full attention of the experienced fishermen. Jesus had retreated to the solitude of the mountain to pray, but He had ordered them into a boat and a mess. They were there because they were disciples. Those who were not in that small group were spared the experience, and that was a pity because it was amazing.
The disciples in that boat saw Jesus walk on water. It impresses us to read about it, but to be an eyewitness surely seared an indelible image into their minds. His approach rattled them. “A ghost,” they said. Fear spilled from their lips, but from His came words of reassurance, “Fear not…” Don’t be afraid? They were looking at a man doing the impossible! The people at home didn’t see that.
That’s when Peter spoke up. He never was one to do a lot of thinking before he opened his mouth. Emboldened, He wanted to do the same thing. His request was granted, and he stepped out of the boat and walked on water. His fellow disciples saw that, too. Wonder what they thought? Did Peter replay that moment over-and-over in his mind when he went to bed at night? “I actually walked on water.” Those in their houses never stepped on top of a wave and stayed. They never sank either. Peter did.
He lost focus. He took his eyes off of the Lord and put them on the wind. As soon as he did, he lost his footing, and down he went. He had dared to step out in a remarkable demonstration of faith, or was it? Jesus saved him and immediately criticized his faith.
He had followed the Lord’s orders to get in the boat and ended up in a brutal storm because of it. He had watched Jesus walk on the sea, then took a few steps on the surf himself. He sank. Jesus both rescued and chastised him. His faith was not as substantial as he thought. How’s that for a day? The end result for those who shared the experience was the same. They worshiped. They recognized that this was no ordinary man. He was the Son of God.
The Lord separated the disciples from the crowds. One group got into a boat and had the lesson of a lifetime. The other stayed in the comfort of their homes and learned nothing new. Discipleship leads us into deep waters. Sometime they are stormy. That is where the really intense education occurs. We learn of the greatness of our Savior and the fault lines in our faith. It can be rough, but the consequences are the same: a certainty that Jesus is the Son of God. Then, we really worship.