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In last week’s blog, we looked at the truth that the Lord was more interested in Paul’s spiritual condition than his physical discomfort. In order to subdue Paul’s conceit, He allowed his “thorn in the flesh” to remain. God’s grace was sufficient for Paul’s life. That understanding of His grace was all Paul needed to proceed with his life and continue to engage in his battle with self-boasting.

This week, we are going to look at another time when Jesus purposefully allowed His disciples to be uncomfortable.

A little background.

Jesus had just finished feeding five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish. Jesus had just shown again His power over material substance in order to care for those in need. Here’s what happened next:

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, ‘It is a ghost!’ and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.’ And Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God’ (Matthew 14:22–33).1

Jesus “made” the disciples get into a boat and go to the other side of the lake and then proceeded to climb a mountain and pray. He knew that the disciples would encounter a storm, so it is evident that He waited for this to happen. Why?

After a time—we don’t know how long—Jesus came down the mountain and walked to His disciples on the sea who had been struggling for some time in those troubled waters. When they thought He was a ghost, Jesus assured them that it was He and that they shouldn’t be afraid. Peter, for reasons unknown, (Perhaps to prove beyond doubt that this maybe-ghost was really who He said He was?), said, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” Jesus replied. But something hindered Peter from completing his walk on the water to Jesus, and that something was a hard, frightening dose of reality. The wind was strong against Him. He cried out for rescue, and Jesus grabbed him out of the water, and they walked together back to the boat. Jesus then asked a question which Peter did not answer, and which you and I perhaps may not have answered as well: “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” As soon as they got into the boat, the wind ceased. This is a perfect jewel on top of this story, an event that Jesus clearly caused to teach Peter and us a lesson.

But what lesson?

Jesus had just evidenced His power over the material stuff of the earth by feeding five thousand people with a few fish and loaves of bread. He showed that power here again when the wind ceased. He had done this before in Matthew 8:23-27. Is it a stretch to think that Jesus expected Peter, who had just seen those power-over-nature events, as well as others, to continue to believe that He had all of this under control? So, the question, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt” is, obviously, superbly legitimate. (As if Jesus would ever ask a question that was not.)

Jesus set all this up to teach Peter and us a lesson. A lesson not only about His absolute control over all things earthly and material—He created it all, by the way, so it makes sense He could control it—but also to show us our faith problem. I have no doubt whatsoever, if I was on top of the water in the middle of a storm with Jesus next to me, that if a strong wind blew against me, I would be frightened. I would doubt. Thus, my answer to Jesus’ question, “Why did you doubt?” is, “The circumstances overwhelmed me, overwhelmed whatever faith was in operation at that time. I was scared to death.”

Jesus purposed to make Peter and the other disciples uncomfortable to show them and us how puny our faith can be. How much in need of His help we are, and how He will help us, in spite of our lack of faith. How much we, like Peter, need to cry out for assistance when circumstances batter us like an overwhelming wind storm. Will He make us uncomfortable to do that? It appears to be the case, and we should rejoice. It’s a good thing to see how limited we are, and how unlimited God is, don’t you think? The disciples, after the wind ceased said, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Amen.

 

1The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Gif courtesy giphy.com

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