|Volume 21 Number 5 May 2019||
Ernest S. Underwood
Several years ago, I was watching the landing of one of the space shuttles on television. There was a station break, and an advertising of a well-known breakfast drink came on. The spokesman for the product spoke of man’s destiny and how it will be attained. He said that man’s destiny lay among the stars, and the way he would reach that destiny would be by a space shuttle.
The Bible has something to say about man’s destiny. Jesus said that there are only two ways that lie open to man—the broad way and the strait way. He also stated that “no one comes to the Father but by me.”
Yes, man has a destiny. For the disobedient and the unfaithful that destiny is eternal torment. For the righteous, those who love God and keep His commandments, it is eternal happiness in Heaven. One may reach the first mentioned destiny without any effort on his part—just do nothing, believe nothing and obey nothing. The other destiny, Heaven, will not be reached by a spaceship, but through Jesus Christ and obedience to His will. What is your destiny?
Matthew 14:22-33 tells us about the time that Peter began to sink in the sea. There are a number of lessons that should help us when we begin to sink in sin. We even sing about “sinking deep in sin,” and this song evidently came from this section of Matthew. In this article, we will notice the storm, the Savior and the sinking.
The Storm (22-25a)
In thinking about the storm, I want us to notice the problem of a storm, the people of the storm and the principle of the storm. First, the disciples were facing a real problem. They were in a troubled sea. There was a problem of distance as they were in the “midst of the sea.” There was a problem of danger as the boat was “tossed with the waves.” There was the problem of darkness as it was at the “fourth hour of the watch at night.” They were right in the middle of the problem and did not see any way out.
Think about the people in the storm. We expect wicked and sinful people to be troubled and have problems, and, of course, they do (Proverbs 13:15; Isaiah 57:20-21). Yet, these people were “His disciples” (22). They were following Jesus, but here they were in the midst of a real problem.
Consider the principle of the storm. The principle taught here is that even disciples of Christ will sometimes find themselves in the midst of trouble and surrounded by problems. Even God’s greatest servants were not exempt from troubles and trials (Job 3:26; 14:1; Daniel 6; 2 Corinthians 4:8). The Bible clearly teaches that as long as Christians are in the world that they will have tribulations and problems (John 16:33; 2 Timothy 3:12).
Many times today, Christians find themselves in a stormy sea of problems, when the winds of trouble toss us to and fro and the situation looks dreadful, dark and dreary. You see, God doesn’t promise us smooth sailing in this life, but He does promise us a safe landing. God does promise to help us get through the troubles.
Remember, we can’t send some religious racketeer [televangelist] some money and expect all our problems and troubles to cease. Our problems may come from our flesh, family, friends, foes, finances or some other area. At times, problems are cruel and rough, and we find that living can get pretty tough.
The Savior (25b-27)
The second thing I want to concentrate on is the Savior. In thinking about the Savior, I want us to notice His perception, His presence and His power. Regarding our Lord’s perception, Mark’s account tells us that, “He saw them toiling in rowing” (Mark 6:48). He knew what kind of difficulty they were in and how they were struggling to survive.
Jesus also knows about our problems and troubles. When He had John write to the church in Smyrna, He said, “I know thy works and tribulations” (Revelation 2:9). He knew the problems they were having, and Jesus knows just what I need. ”All things are naked and open unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13). As the poet says, “He knows each winding way I take and every sorrow, pain and ache. And me He never will forsake.”
About Jesus’ presence, the text says, “Jesus went unto them…” (25b). He came to them in the midst of their troubles. He was there when they really needed Him, and even though they did not recognize Him, He was there! Our Lord promises us that He will be present when we have problems. He not only knows when His disciples are having problems, He also goes to them when they have them (Matthew 28:20; Philippians 4:5; Hebrews 13:5). What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear.
Concerning our Lord’s power, the text says that He went to them, “walking on the sea” (25c). He was already on top of their problem. The problem that seemed to be over their heads was under His feet. When it comes to our problems today, we need to realize that Jesus has the power to solve them. Even if we can’t see any way out, that does not mean that He can’t see a solution. The Bible says that God is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:20). We need to learn to look and to lean on the Lord (Hebrews 12:1-2; 1 John 4:4; Philippians 4:13). As one man said, “Yesterday God helped me. How long will this continue? Forever, praise His holy name.”
The Sinking (28-33)
The final thing that we will notice is the sinking of Peter. This section ends with Peter “beginning to sink” and crying, “Lord, save me.” Let’s notice the wish, the walk and the wind. Respecting the wish, according to verse 28, Peter wanted to walk on the sea, and he asked permission to do so. Exactly why he wanted to walk on the water is not known, but the Lord granted his wish and told him to “come.”
Of the walk, the text says, “When Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus” (29). At this point, Peter was listening to and looking toward the Lord. He was walking by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7). Bear in mind that Peter was trying to do what the Lord said when he began to sink. The Lord had told him to “come,” and Peter stepped out in faith.
Regarding the wind, verse 30 says, “But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried saying, ‘Lord save me.’” He took his eyes off the Lord and started looking at the wind. Please note that it was when he started concentrating on the problem rather than on the Savior that he began to sink. This caused him to doubt and to be afraid. Many times today, Christians begin to sink because they are surrounded by problems and pressures in life, and they start concentrating on them rather than on being faithful to the Lord. They fail to keep “looking at Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” (Hebrews 12:2). May the Lord help us not to let the winds of adversity and the sea of trouble cause us to take our eyes off Jesus and sink back into sin.
In this article, we have considered sinking souls from Matthew 14:22-33. We have discussed the storms, the Savior and the sinking. Hopefully, we have learned some things that will help us avoid letting problems and pressures in this life cause us to fall.