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Walking on Water

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
April 29, 2024 12:01 am

Walking on Water

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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April 29, 2024 12:01 am

Without hesitation, Peter stepped out of the boat to stand with Jesus on the sea. Yet his zeal gave way to fear, and he began to sink. Today, Derek Thomas shows how Peter's struggle is instructive for our walk of faith with Christ.

Get Derek Thomas' DVD Teaching Series 'The Life of Peter' for Your Gift of Any Amount

Meet Today's Teacher:

Derek Thomas is a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow and Chancellor's Professor of Systematic and Pastoral Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary. He is featured teacher for the Ligonier teaching series The Life of Peter and author of many books, including Heaven on Earth, Strength for the Weary, and Let Us Worship God.

Meet the Host:

Nathan W. Bingham is vice president of ministry engagement for Ligonier Ministries, executive producer and host of Renewing Your Mind, host of the Ask Ligonier podcast, and a graduate of Presbyterian Theological College in Melbourne, Australia. Nathan joined Ligonier in 2012 and lives in Central Florida with his wife and four children.

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I must have thrilled Peter to the core, to be walking in the midst of a storm on top of the Sea of Galilee. But then he takes his eyes off Jesus.

Reality kicks in. The laws of physics come to his mind that heavier things sink, and he was much heavier than water. O ye of little faith, Jesus says to him, why did you doubt? How strong is your faith?

Do you ever doubt? When we consider the apostles, Peter seems so relatable, as he does things that we could imagine ourselves doing, especially when he became fearful as he tried to walk on water. This is the Monday edition of Renewing Your Mind.

I'm Nathan W. Bingham, and I'm so glad you're with us this week, as we feature a new series from Derek Thomas. This new series is on the life of Peter, and in many ways, Peter is so relatable, and his life and his friendship with Jesus teaches us many lessons. You can request lifetime access to this new study on the life of Peter when you give a donation of any amount at Your enthusiasm to take a courageous stand for Christ can be met with fear and trepidation, like Peter, when his zeal to walk on water, as Jesus was, became a moment of fear.

So here's Dr. Thomas, a Ligonier teaching fellow and Chancellor's Professor of Systematic and Pastoral Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary, to begin our study this week on the life of Peter. We're in Matthew 14 and verses 22 to 33. Matthew 14, beginning at verse 22, immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night, he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified and said, It is a ghost, and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, Take heart, it is I, do not be afraid. 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 worshipped him, saying, Truly you are the Son of God.

This section begins with the word immediately. It occurs more than once in this section, and it's not typical of Matthew, but it is very typical of Mark, and Mark we think of as Peter's memoirs. And so commentators think that Matthew got this story directly from Peter, and it would have been typical of Peter to introduce this word Euthyos in Greek, and immediately.

This comes after the feeding of the five thousand, and Jesus has finished preaching, sent the disciples across the Sea of Galilee by boat while He goes into the mountains to pray. Why would Jesus need to pray? Because He was not only God, He was also man.

He was also a human being with a human mind and human body and human affections, a human psychology. He needed strengthening. He needed guidance. He needed direction. He needed to stay in touch with His heavenly Father as He directed the course of His mission that would inexorably lead to Jerusalem.

So our focus wants to be on Peter here, and the first thing I want us to see is a tried faith, a tried faith. Peter and the other disciples find themselves in a storm. The Sea of Galilee was notorious for storms.

It's to do with the geography and the topography and the mountains on the east and so on and cold winds coming down from Mount Hermon, which was thirty miles or so to the north, and it could whip up a storm in a moment. Their obedience is being tested. They find themselves in trial, and I want you to note that Jesus delays coming to them. It seems from the account that Jesus is somewhere in the mountains, north, east, perhaps of the Sea of Galilee. He can look down in the midst of the storm, and perhaps He could just about see the boat in trouble. One of Paul's first lessons that he learned from his first missionary journey when he reports back to the church in Antioch. Through many tribulations, we enter the kingdom of God. Jesus had spoken, if anyone will be my disciple, he must take up a cross and follow me.

He makes them wait. He makes them experience the trial a little more, a little longer. Peter reflected on this, I think, when he writes his first epistle, he talks about various trials. Don't be surprised by various trials that come upon you.

He uses the Greek word poikalos, which can mean multicolored, multi-natured, trials of all kinds, cancer, divorce, the rebellion of a child, bankruptcy, various kinds of trials. Their faith is being tested. Peter reflected on it a great deal, I think, in 1 Peter chapter 4, he says, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you as though something strange were happening to you, but rejoice as you share in Christ's suffering.

Don't be surprised by the fiery trial. We're often surprised when trials come. We don't like them. We want them to go away.

We find them an irritant. We find them something that gets in the way of faith rather than grows faith. But Peter says, no, these trials, and there are all kinds of trials, they help you share in the sufferings of Christ. He reflects on it in the next chapter, in 1 Peter chapter 5, after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. God moves in a mysterious way His wonders to perform. He plants His footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm, deep in unfathomable minds of never-failing skill, He treasures up His bright designs and works His sovereign will. Blind unbelief is sure to err and scan His work in vain.

These are wonderful lines from William Cooper, who himself was a deeply troubled man in the time of John Newton. God moves in a mysterious way. They were in this boat on the Sea of Galilee because Jesus had told them to go. They were obeying Him.

You'd think that obedience might bring reward rather than obedience bringing trial. And Jesus allowing them to experience that trial for a little season because He knows ultimately it'll be good for them, that if they look to God in faith, if they look to Christ in faith, they will grow, grow in grace, grow in strength, grow in holiness as a result, a tried faith. Secondly, a fearful faith. We're told in verse 26 that they were terrified. This is no ordinary storm. They must have experienced storms aplenty. They were experienced fishermen, some of them, but this one was different.

It terrified them. There's something about the sea, and this is a lake, but it was called a sea. There's something about water in the Hebrew mindset that often appears to bring terror. Within the depths of the sea lies Leviathan, the great sea monster. They were not generally a seafaring people.

They had a coast, but it was often occupied by hostile folk. Jesus is obscured now as He begins to walk on the water. He makes Himself walk on the water. It's a miracle, it's an act of the Holy Spirit enabling Him to defy the laws of gravity. What a God we have, what a Savior we have, that He can defy the laws of gravity. Now, Vincent Taylor, a well-known liberal scholar, New Testament scholar in the twentieth century, Methodist, he didn't believe in miracles.

He was a typical post-enlightenment scholar, and miracles don't exist. So this has to be reinterpreted, and they weren't out in the middle of the sea. They were in the marshes on the side. But the Greek is quite specific. He was walking epi in Greek, on, that means on top of.

He was walking on top of the water. It's a miracle. It's something supernatural. If you can't take the supernatural, Christianity is not for you. You can't have Christianity and not have the supernatural. It begins, the life of Jesus begins with something supernatural in the virginal conception in the womb of Mary.

It ends with a miracle in the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday morning. He says to them, you know, they don't know who He is, and they think He's a ghost. And now they're terrified, not just of the storm, but they're terrified that a ghost is coming after them, that their lives are now in danger.

And He says, take heart, it is I. Be not afraid. We need to do a series, I think, on all the occasions in the Bible where God says, do not be afraid.

There are lots and lots of them. Do not be afraid. We know fear. We've been in circumstances where we're afraid, afraid for the life of someone that we love, afraid because circumstances have closed in upon us and we can't see our way out and it looks bad.

Do not be afraid. It is, it is I. Jesus, in Mark's account of this story, Jesus could see them from the mountain. As Mark seems to imply, and that's Peter's memoirs that Mark is recording. Jesus must have said to Peter at some point, you know, I could see, I saw you when you were in trouble.

I could see you from where I was. He saw them in trouble. And what is the instinct of Jesus when you're in trouble? He may let you experience that trouble for a season, but He will never leave you. He will never forsake you. In the end, He will come to you. He's always doing that. He's always coming to us in our troubles, and we need to keep that in mind.

Well, thirdly, a triumphant faith. It's these verses in 28 and 29, and they're so Peter. Peter is either all in or all out. Peter blurts whatever comes to his mind without thinking. And he says, if it is you, then let me come too. I want to experience this walking on the water thing. Sounds really cool to be able to walk on water.

Why not all of them? I think it's typical of Peter to say this. In one sense, it's commendable. I think I would want to say that if I was in this circumstance. I mean, apart from reason, apart from logic, that Jesus would allow me to experience what it is to walk on water, to experience the power of the supernatural, to experience a miracle for myself. We have no idea what is possible if we had faith. Doesn't Jesus say that if you had faith, you could say to this mountain, be moved and be thrown into the heart of the sea? We have no idea what is possible with faith. Truly, truly, I say to you, Matthew 21 and verses 21 and 22, truly, I say to you, if we have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree.

He had cursed the fig tree. But even if you say to this mountain, be taken up and thrown into the sea, it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive if you have faith. Do you believe that?

Maybe you say to yourself, well, sometimes if I had faith, I could do that. Peter got out of the boat. He didn't hesitate. He didn't even think about it.

He just did it. Mark, you know, doesn't include the story. Maybe Peter was a little embarrassed in his official memoirs, but not that embarrassed to let Matthew know about it. Something of a theme here in Matthew. It begins with Jesus' birth and ends with the Great Commission.

What is Jesus' birth about? He has a name. It's Immanuel, God with us.

How does it end with the Great Commission? Lo, I am with you always. And this is something of a theme, I think, in Matthew's gospel, the presence of Jesus with His people and the presence of Jesus with His people in trouble. And here's Peter, and it's a moment of great excitement that must have thrilled him to the core to be walking in the midst of a storm on top of the Sea of Galilee. And then, fourthly, in verse 30, when he saw the wind, he was afraid and beginning to sink, he cried out, Lord, save me. Failing faith. He takes his eyes off Jesus. Reality kicks in. The laws of physics come to his mind that heavier things sink, and he was much heavier than water.

O ye of little faith, Jesus says to him, why did you doubt? I've told this story many times. It was an incident that happened in my life when I was in my early 20s, mid-20s. I was just a young minister of the gospel, barely into ministry, a year maybe. And a friend, she was in her 80s, Miss Madge and her sister, Miss Anna.

And I would visit them once a month or so. They lived quite near the church, and they were both unmarried and lived together. There was a third sister that had died, and I'm feeling a little sad for myself, sorry for myself. Things weren't going quite the way I thought. Difficulties had come. You know, Christians can be peculiar, sometimes difficult.

Sometimes just plain rude, and I'd experienced this. I think I'd gone into ministry thinking that all would be easy and wonderful. But then reality kicked in, and Miss Madge, who only had one eye, she had a prosthetic eye, but she looked at me and said, quite sternly, young man, she said to me, see no one in the picture but Jesus. I thought it was a little sentimental at the time.

You know, I'm an arrogant 20-something. I've thought about it almost every week since, and this was 50 years ago, 40 years ago. And every time I find myself in trial, I think of those words, see no one in the picture but Jesus. This was Peter's problem here. He took his eye off Jesus. I think if he had kept looking to Jesus, he'd have got to Him.

In C.S. Lewis's Scrutip Letters, the master, Scrutip, is teaching one of his interns, and he's saying to him, make him doubt whether the first days of his Christianity were not perhaps a little excessive. Talk to him about moderation in all things. If you can get him to think that religion is all very well up to a point, you can feel quite happy about his soul. A moderated religion is as good for us as no religion at all and more amusing.

Those are sinister words, of course, coming from the devil himself. A moderated religion, a religion of little faith, a religion that puts logic before faith itself, a failing faith, and then, fifthly, a restored faith. Jesus reaches out His hand and takes hold of him and pulls him. And when they're back both in the boat, the storm ceases. There's something of another miracle here.

It didn't just cease in and of itself, I think. It ceased because the point of the storm had already taught its lesson to Peter, and they worshiped him. This person that they've come to follow, this Jesus of Nazareth, this person who has just walked across the Sea of Galilee and gotten into the boat and hushed the storm, he's none other than God. They worship Him. They don't just admire Him. They don't just respect Him. They worship Him.

They bow down before Him and call Him God. There's more to Jesus than meets the eye. And here in this extraordinary tale of the storm on the Sea of Galilee, He revealed Himself to the disciples as to His true identity.

He was none other than the Son of God, the Son of Man incarnate and enfleshed, and they worshiped Him as you and I worship Him and call Him my Lord and my God. I began today's episode asking, how strong was your faith? Important good news that even when our faith may begin to fail, like Peter, Jesus is there to restore our faith, that He does save and keep His sheep. That was Derek Thomas on today's edition of Renewing Your Mind from his newly released series The Life of Peter, Molded in the Master's Hands. You can own this series for life, both digitally and on DVD, and have access to the study guide when you give a donation of any amount at, or when you call us at 800-435-4343. This is a 19-message series, more than you'll hear this week on Renewing Your Mind, so don't delay in requesting access. Give your gift today at Jesus' teaching and ministry offended many people. Even some who had followed Him would turn away, but not Peter. Find out why tomorrow here on Renewing Your Mind.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-29 02:24:54 / 2024-04-29 02:32:55 / 8

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