The Courage of Peter

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Peter saw something in the water as he struggled with the boat. What is that? he thought to himself. Long day, tough work and now his mind must be playing tricks on him- because that certainly looked like a person. He blinked a couple times, trying to force his eyes to see clearer and more accurately. That didn’t work either- it was still there.

He nudged Andrew sitting next to him, ‘Do you see that?’ he asked.
Looking up, Andrew too loudly said ‘What is that?’ Suddenly everyone was looking into the distance and felt the fear swell up, as the waves had previously.

Terror gripped Peter as he considered what it might be- a ghost was all he was able to conclude. But Peter couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something familiar about this figure. It was then a voice called out, ‘Don’t be Afraid, Take courage. I am here!’

‘How could this be Jesus?’ Peter thought as he recognized the voice and found himself responding, ‘Master if it is really you, tell me to come to you?’

‘Come’ was all he heard in reply.

Immediately Peter was out of the boat and onto the crashing waves. And he took a step…

Then he looked down and realized he was walking on water.
The fear seized him once more and he started to sink.
All he could do was cry out, ‘Master, Save Me’
‘Why do you doubt, where is your trust?’ was the master’s response as he reached and dragged Peter into the boat.

cf. Matthew 14

Peter takes a lot of flak for being quicker to talk or act than to think. He pulls his sword in defence, he calls Jesus the Christ, He steps onto the water, he rebukes the idea of a crucified Messiah and denies Jesus when it mattered most.

But Peter’s courage is not something we talk about that often- at least not his pre-Acts courage.

In the midst of the terrifying situation outlined above with the waves and the ‘ghost,’ he had the courage to ask and the courage to step. Whether he needed proof or doubted who was there, it took courage to step over the side of the boat and onto the raging sea.

Consider that Peter was the only disciple who had the courage to step out. There is no mention of John or James speaking or taking half a step forward, only Peter. He may have lost it all seconds later, BUT IT TAKES COURAGE TO STEP OUT ONTO THE WATER. I cannot imagine getting anywhere near that water or even considering asking to be invited onto the water.

As much as we give Peter a hard time for being a bit too shoot-first, I think we need to acknowledge the courage it took to ask and the courage it took to even take a step. I wonder if it is not something we all need a bit more of, not just the courage to step but that courage to ask. Who knows what might be in store if we said ‘Jesus tell me to come to you.’