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Basic Bible: Jesus’ Mighty Power

Matthew 14:22-36

The text before us consists of separate two pictures — Jesus’ walking upon the water of the Sea of Galilee and Jesus’ visit to the land of Gennesaret. The two pictures are alike in that both describe impossible happenings. Human beings cannot walk upon liquid water and diseased individuals cannot be healed by simply touching the hem of a garment. These things are impossible because they cannot be explained by the natural laws which govern liquid water and the hems of garments. With God (and Jesus was God manifest in the flesh), all things are possible. These two happenings testify of the power which the Father endued upon the Son. There is more to each of these pictures, however, than the revelation that Jesus is the Christ, the Promised One.

Consider verses 22 to 33. Jesus constrained the disciples to depart from Him and from the multitude — the multitude of five thousand men plus women and children who were filled on five loaves and two fishes (v. 21). His instruction to enter into a ship and to go before Him to the other side was given as darkness was falling. The distance to the other side could have been in the four to ten mile range. The disciples did not immediately sail to the other side. They may or may not have known that Jesus would go upon a mountain to pray. Their plan was to wait for daylight before crossing the sea. They were far from the place where they expected to rejoin Jesus when they beheld Him walking toward them during the fourth watch of the night (between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.). They had been in the ship since in the waning hours of the first watch (6-9 p.m.).

The adage, seeing is believing, is not absolutely true. Peter saw, but had doubts. Had Peter and the other disciples truly believed that it was Jesus, they would not have been troubled and afraid. Peter and the disciples were to meet with Jesus after they journeyed to the other side. An unexpected early meeting is cause for surprise, not cause to be troubled or to fear.

They were troubled and afraid by the impossibility of what they saw. They saw a being who appeared to be Jesus walking toward them on the water. They, then, heard His words “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” They saw and they heard but they were not ready to embrace the reality that Jesus was before them walking upon water.

Peter answered that he would believe that which he saw and heard if Jesus would bid him to walk upon the water. Jesus said, “Come” and Peter, leaving the ship, walked upon the water. As he approached Jesus, Peter beheld himself doing that which he knew to be impossible. Peter, then, saw the wind boisterous. One sees and feels the effect of a boisterous wind. Peter saw waves of water and felt a mighty wind. When Peter realized that he was, in deed, doing the impossible, he began to sink into the water (v. 30).

Commentators have expounded upon this scene, noting that Peter began to sink when he took his eyes off Jesus. It is certainly true that we fail when we take ours eyes off Jesus. Jesus is the answer to all of our failures. He came into the world to provide the answer for our failures. Jesus never fails. We fail Him but He is always there to stretch forth His hand and save us as He did Peter.

In verse 31, Jesus asked Peter why he doubted. Jesus had provided the answer to His question before He asking. Jesus had addressed Peter as “thou of little faith.” Peter doubted because he lacked faith. Peter sank for lack of faith.

This account of a lack of faith closes after the wind ceased and Jesus was aboard. The picture ends with Peter and the other disciples worshipping Jesus and declaring Him to be the Son of God.

The second picture follows when Jesus and the disciples arrive at the land of Gennesaret. Gennesaret was located on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee, about five miles distant from Capernaum. The proximity to Capernaum is significant in that Capernaum was the location at which the woman with the issue of blood of twelve years was healed by touching the hem of Jesus’ garment (Matt. 9:1, 20).

When the citizenry of Gennesaret learned of Jesus’ presence, they sent out word to the countryside and brought all that were diseased to Jesus such that they might touch the hem of His garment. All who touched the hem of His garment were healed.

This picture, like Jesus’ walking on water, is an impossible happening. This impossible occurrence stands in sharp contrast to Peter’s walk upon the water. Peter’s walk ended abruptly because of a lack of faith. There was no lack of faith in Gennesaret. All those who stepped forward to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment had never seen Jesus perform a miracle of healing. They had heard that a woman with an issue of blood of twelve years was healed because she reached out to Jesus. Like the woman, they reached out in faith to Jesus and were healed without exception.

Peter’s lack of faith produced failure. The faith of those who had heard of Jesus’ healing produced a one hundred percent success rate. The close sequence of faith’s failure followed by faith’s success was no happenstance. The two pictures were produced by God for His purposes. Despite our weaknesses and our failures, God can and does use our faith to multiply His kingdom. He would have all men come to Him in repentance.

May faith find victory in our weak vessels. Let us tell others Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

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