The Scriptorium

Watch Where You're Going!

It was both Peter's joy, and his demise. Matthew 14.28-33

Matthew 14: Son of God (5)

Pray Psalm 138.7, 8.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me;
You will stretch out Your hand
Against the wrath of my enemies,
And Your right hand will save me.
The LORD will perfect that which concerns me;
Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands.

Sing Psalm 138.7, 8.
(Regent Square: Angels from the Realms of Glory)
Your Right Hand will save and keep me; all I need You will supply.
For Your love is everlasting, reaching from beyond the sky.
You will not forsake or leave me; You will save me when I cry.

Read Matthew 14.1-33; meditate on verses 28-33.

1. What did Peter want the Lord to do for him?

2. Why did Peter begin to sink?


This is one of my top ten passages in all of Scripture, and that for lots of reasons.

First, it teaches us how we should live. Second, it teaches us how we should not live. What more could you ask?

Who can understand Peter? Sometimes I wish I had more of Peter in my DNA. At other times – his denial of Jesus, his balking before the Gentile believers in Antioch – I want the Lord to remove those strains from my soul. Peter is a lot like most of us. But he is also an extraordinary disciple, one from whom we can learn many things.

Peter’s request to the Lord is simply astounding. Can you hear the other disciples: “What? Are you crazy?” “No, Peter, no!” “Sit down, sit down, you’re rocking the boat!” Would you be getting up with Peter, or hunkering down with the eleven?

I can also imagine Jesus smiling and reaching out His hand in response to Peter’s request: “Attaboy! Come on!”

Peter steps over the side of the boat, and the water is solid under his feet. His eyes fixed on Jesus, he begins walking on the water – right foot, left foot; right foot, left foot. His goal is to get to Jesus, and he perhaps reached out his hand to take the Lord’s.

But then the other Peter shows up. Taking his eyes off Jesus, Peter focuses instead on the wind and the waves. They were “boisterous” – don’t you love that word? Peter, moments ago the most confident man alive, began to be afraid. And he also began to sink. Can you feel the water, grasping his ankles, reaching his knees, clinging to his thighs! Desperate, Peter cries out, “Lord, save me!”

We should all be so desperate all the time.

So Jesus grabs him, and together they go back into the boat. But not without a sharp rebuke: “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” How do you suppose the other disciples felt, hearing Peter rebuked like that?

Well, whatever they thought or felt, it didn’t last very long. As the wind ceased – not died down, ceased, as in “Stop that boisterousness and sit down!” – the disciples all fell around Jesus in worship, and testified as one, “Truly, You are the Son of God.”

Even Judas? Yes, even Judas. Talk is cheap.

Peter’s glory and near-downfall had the same cause. He was looking where he was going. As long as he was looking to Jesus, he walked on the water. When he looked around at the uncertain, changing, boisterous wind and sea, he began to succumb to it.

How will you live for Christ today? Looking to Him, or looking at the world and its vicissitudes and troubles?

Look to Jesus, and watch where you’re going – always.

1. How should we look to Jesus in our day? What should we expect from doing so?

2. Which Peter tends most often to show up in your life? Explain.

3. What would it mean for you to walk on the water toward Jesus today?

Peter is attended by strength equal to disdaining death itself. His timidity, however, gives an inkling of his weakness in the face of future temptation. For though he ventured forth, he began to sink. Through the feebleness of the flesh and the fear of death, he is brought to the point of denial. But he cries out and asks the Lord to save him. That cry is the groan of his repentance.
Hilary of Poitiers (315-367), On Matthew 14.15

Lord, help me keep my eyes on You today as I…

Pray Psalm 138.1-6.
How will you trust the Lord to let you walk on water today?

Sing Psalm 138.1-6.
Psalm 138.1-6 (Regent Square: Angels from the Realms of Glory)
I will give You thanks and praise You, God of gods, with all my heart.
I will bow before Your temple, grateful praise to You impart.
For Your Name and for Your glory, You have magnified Your Word!

On the day I called You answered, made me bold within my soul.
When I walk in troubled places, You revive and make me whole.
For Your hand will gently shield me, and my fearsome foes control.

All the kings of earth will praise You when Your words of truth they hear.
Of Your ways, of Your great glory gladly they will loudly cheer.
For the proud shall not approach You, yet You hold the lowly dear.

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from
The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006). All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore