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Matthew 14:23-32  And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into
a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind
was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them,
walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they
were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway
Jesus spake unto them, saying,
Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And
Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the
water. And he said,
Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he
walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he
was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And
immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him,
O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come
into the ship, the wind ceased.

There are two ways in which we may view the interesting portion of Scripture
given above. We may read it from a dispensational standpoint as bearing upon
the subject of God's dealings with Israel. Also, we may read it as a portion
directly bearing on the subject of
our own practical walk with God from day
to day.

Our Lord, having fed the multitude and dismissed them, "went up into a
mountain apart to pray, and when the evening was come, He was there alone."
This answers precisely to His present position with reference to the nation of
Israel. He has left them and gone on high to enter upon the blessed work of
intercession. Meanwhile, the disciples -- a type of the pious remnant -- were
tossed on the stormy sea during the dark watches of the night, deeply tried and
exercised in the absence of their Lord. But
He never for a moment lost sight
of them, never withdrew His eyes from them.
And when they were brought,
as it were, to their wits' end,
He appears for their relief, hushes the wind,
calms the sea and brings them to their desired haven.

Thus much as to the dispensational bearing of this passage of Scripture,
inasmuch as our object is to present to the heart of the reader the precious truth
unfolded in the narrative of Peter on the water — truth bearing directly upon
our own individual path, whatever the nature of that path may be.

It demands no stretch of imagination to see in the case of Peter, a striking figure
of the Church of God collectively or of the individual Christian. Peter left the
ship at the call of Christ. He abandoned all that the heart would so fondly cling
to, and came forth to walk on the stormy water--  a path of faith, a path in
which nothing but simple faith could live for a single hour.
To all who are
called to tread that path, it must be either Christ or nothing. Our only
source of power is in keeping the eye of faith firmly fixed on Jesus,
Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Heb. 12). The
moment we take the eye off Him, we begin to sink.

It is not a question of salvation-- of reaching the shore in safety. By no means!
We are speaking now of the walk
of the Christian in this world, of the
practical career of one who is called
to abandon this world, to give up all
that mere nature would lean upon and trust in, to relinquish earthly things
and human resources to walk with Jesus above the power and influence of
things seen and temporal.

Such is the high calling of the Christian and of the whole Church of God.
We are called to live by faith, to walk in calm confidence above the
circumstances of this world altogether, to move in holy companionship
with Jesus.
It was after this that Peter's soul was seeking when he uttered those
words, "Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water." Here was
the point: "If it be Thou." If it were not He, the wildest mistake that Peter could
possibly make would be to leave the ship. But if indeed it was Jesus -- that
blessed One, that most glorious, most gracious One who Peter saw moving
peacefully over the surface of the troubled deep -- then,
assuredly, the very
highest, the very happiest, the very best thing he could do was to abandon
every earthly and natural resource to come forth to Him and taste the
wonderful blessedness of companionship with Him.

There is immense force, depth and significance in these clauses --  "If it be
Thou" -- "Bid me come unto Thee" -- "On the water." Mark, it is "unto Thee on
the water." It was not Jesus coming to Peter in the ship, blessed and precious as
that is, but Peter coming to Jesus on the water.
It is one thing to have Jesus
coming into the midst of our circumstances, hushing our fears, allaying
our anxieties, tranquilizing our hearts, but it is quite another thing for us
to push out from the shore of circumstances or from the ship of nature's
devices, to walk in calm victory over the circumstances simply to be with
Jesus where He is.
The former reminds us somewhat of the Sareptan in 1
Kings 17. The latter, of the Shunammite in 2 Kings 4.

Is it that we do not appreciate the excellent grace that breathes in those words,  
"Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid"? Far be the thought! These words are
most precious. Moreover, Peter might have tasted, yes reveled in their
sweetness, even though he had never left the ship at all. It is well to distinguish
between these two things. They are very often confounded. We are all prone to
rest in the thought of having the Lord with us and His mercies around us in our
daily path. We linger amid the relationships of nature, the joys of earth, such as
they are, and the blessings which our gracious God pours so liberally upon us.
We cling to circumstances instead of breathing after more intimate
companionship with a rejected Christ.
In this way we suffer immense loss.

Yes, we say it advisedly, "immense loss." It is not that we should prize God's
blessings and mercies less,
but we should prize Him more. We believe that
Peter would have been a loser had he remained in the ship. Some may deem it
restlessness and forwardness; we believe it was the
fruit of earnest longing
after his much loved Lord -- an intense desire to be near Him, cost what it
He beheld his Lord walking on the water and he longed to walk with
Him, and his longing was right. It was pleasing to the heart of Jesus.

Besides, he had the authority of his Lord for leaving the ship. That word
"Come" -- a word of mighty moral force -- fell on his heart and drew him forth
from the ship to go to Jesus.
Christ's word was the authority for entering on
that strange mysterious path, and Christ's realized presence was the power
to pursue it.
Without that word he dare not start; without that presence he
could not proceed. It was strange, it was unearthly, it was above and beyond
nature to walk on the sea,
but Jesus was walking there and faith could walk
with Him.
So Peter thought, and therefore "he came down out of the ship, and
walked on the water to go to Jesus."

Now this is a striking figure of
the true path of a Christian, the path of faith.
The warrant for that path is Christ's Word. The power to pursue it is to keep
the eye fixed on Him.
It is not a question of right or wrong. There was nothing
wrong in remaining in the ship. But the question is, "At what do we aim?" Is it
the fixed purpose of the soul
to get as near as we can to Jesus? Do we desire
to taste a deeper, closer, fuller communion with Him? Is He enough for us? Can
we give up all that mere nature clings to, and lean on Jesus only? He beckons us
forth to Himself in His infinite love. He says, "Come." Shall we refuse? Shall we
hesitate and hang back? Shall we cling to the ship while the voice of Jesus bids
us "Come"?

It may be said that Peter broke down and therefore it is better, safer and wiser
to remain in the ship than to sink in the water. It is better not to take a
prominent place, than having taken it, to fail therein. Well, it is quite true that
Peter failed, but why? Was it because he left the ship? No, but
because he
ceased to look to Jesus.
"When he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and
beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me." Thus it was with poor Peter.
His mistake was not in leaving the ship, but in looking at the waves and
the winds -- looking at his surroundings in place of looking off unto Jesus.
He had entered upon a path which could ONLY be trodden by faith -- a path in
which, if he had not Jesus, he had nothing at all-- no ship, not a spar or a plank
to cling to. In a word, it was
either Christ or nothing. It was either walking
with Jesus on the water or sinking beneath it without Him. Nothing but faith
could sustain the heart in such a course. But faith could sustain, for faith can
live amid the roughest waves and the stormiest skies. Faith can walk on the
roughest waters; unbelief cannot walk on the smoothest.

But Peter failed. Yes; and what then? Does that prove he was wrong in obeying
the call of his Lord? Did Jesus reprove him for leaving the ship? Ah! no; that
would not have been like Him. He could not tell His poor servant to come, and
then rebuke him for coming. He knew and could feel for Peter's weakness.
Hence we read that "Immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand and caught
him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" He
does not say, "O you restless forward one, why did you leave the ship?" No; but
"Wherefore didst thou doubt?" Such was the
tender reproof. And where was
Peter when he heard it?
In the arms of his Lord! What a place! What an
experience! Was it not well worth leaving the ship to taste such blessedness?
Assuredly it was!
Peter was right in leaving the ship, and although he broke
down in that lofty path on which he had entered, it only led him into a
deeper sense of his own weakness and nothingness, and of the grace and
love of his Lord.

Christian reader, what is the moral of all this to us? Simply this:
Jesus calls us forth from the things of time and sense to walk with Him. He
summons us
to abandon all our earthly hopes and creature confidences --
the props and resources on which our poor hearts lean. His voice may be heard
far above the din of waves and storms, and that voice says "
Come!" Oh! let us
obey. Let us
heartily yield ourselves to His call. "Let us go forth unto Him
without the camp, bearing His reproach." He wants to have us near Himself,
walking with and leaning on Him,
not looking at circumstances, but looking
only and always unto Him.

Written by C.H. Mackintosh

If you do not know the Lord Jesus as your personal Savior, you can know Him
today and have
all of your sins forgiven. Please read the free gift of salvation
through Jesus Christ.

Further Reading:
"Come" - The Blessed Word
Christ Jesus In The Boat
"I Am The Vine"
TRUST IN GOD, HOPE IN GOD- Bible Answers To Worry
Be Encouraged Today...Even In Your Storms
We Believe

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