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.’ (Matt 14:28-33, ESV).
I have heard preachers say that there is only one person who ever walked over water and that is Jesus. That is an oversimplification and a misreading of the scripture. However, I read Matthew 14:22-33 again to find out that there are two people who really walked on water—Jesus and Peter!
Most of us focus on Peter beginning to drown. However, the scripture passage clearly says that Peter walked over water and reached Jesus. He began to drown only after reaching arms-length from Jesus.
The first step in Peter accomplishing world record as the first human being to walk on water is to be commanded by Jesus. Jesus assured the disciples that it is not a ghost but he himself who is walking on the water. Peter’s immediate response was, ‘Lord if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ Jesus commanded him by saying, ‘come!’ Then Peter steps out to the stormy sea and walks just as Jesus was walking.
For Peter, it was not just a thrill, but it was a test. The test is if it is Jesus and not a ghost who is walking over the water, then his command will make it possible for Peter to walk. The ghost cannot command and make it happen.
Peter has illustrated another aspect of Christian faith. This truth is that we cannot do things unless God has commanded us.
But why did he begin to drown? That is because he was afraid of the wind. He was with Jesus, he is on a firm glassy ground with Jesus. There is nothing to worry but he was afraid of the wind. If we step out on faith in response to his command we do the impossible. Jesus commands and things happen. However, our fear makes us drown.