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While Walking On Water, I Sank Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
July 22, 2022 1:00 am

While Walking On Water, I Sank Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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July 22, 2022 1:00 am

Jesus was no ordinary man. He had command of the laws of nature, something Peter and the disciples had never seen or believed possible. In this message, we identify three snapshots of what Peter saw when he stepped out by faith onto the Sea of Galilee. Let’s learn the fundamental lessons of doing the impossible. 

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. One thing Peter and the disciples learned real fast was that Jesus was no ordinary man.

He had command of the laws of nature, something they'd never seen and never would have believed possible. Today, Peter takes one small step for a man on the sea. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Today, we take another step on a long journey through the life of Peter, a man chiseled by the Master's hand. Here now is Dr. Lutzer with the story of Peter walking on the water.

Dave, you know, I absolutely love this story. Sometimes we criticize Peter because, after all, if he had kept his eyes on Jesus, he could have walked across the whole lake. That's true, but at least he was willing to get out of the boat.

In other words, it's important for us to realize that a wet Peter is better than a dry Thomas. So this is a story that we need to understand and we need to learn from it. And throughout history, there are always those who have been willing to get out of the boat.

Many have stayed within the boat, so to speak. And at the end of this broadcast, I'm going to tell you the story of someone who, in Nazi Germany, was willing to get out of the boat. He was willing to take a risk for Jesus, and I'll let you know what happened. For now, let us listen to the story of Peter, who took that first step and the lessons we learn from his experience. When I was in Germany this past summer, the city of Leipzig, I saw a statue to Goethe.

Many people mispronounce his name, and with good reason. But one of the things about this statue that arrested our attention was, his head was turned to look at the university, but his feet were going to the tavern, where he liked to spend a lot of time. It's a beautiful example of the fact that we do have a conflict of interest, don't we?

We do have a conflict of pressures. There is our attempt to look at Christ, but there's also the tremendous pressures of the world and the circumstances that constantly get us distracted. If you've been with us, you know that this is the third in a series of messages on the life of Peter, and I'm going to ask you to take your Bibles and turn to the 14th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew chapter 14, where we have a story of Peter learning some fundamental lessons about doing the impossible. The context of the story is that Jesus had just fed a multitude of 5,000 people.

Imagine. 5,000 people, I'm saying, that isn't quite right. It was a lot more than that because it says 5,000 men.

That might well mean that there were at least 10,000 or maybe 15. This is in verse 21 of the 14th chapter. We know from other Gospels that when Jesus did that, the crowd said, let us make you king. They wanted to crown him. And Jesus said no to that. He could have been a great political hero because the people believed in those days that the Messiah would do exactly what Moses had done, namely to bring bread from heaven. And if there's anyone who knew how to bring bread from heaven, it was Jesus, and they wanted a king like that.

They believed that this king would be wiser than Solomon and to have a kingdom of great splendor. And that's why the text says in verse 22 that he made the disciples get into a boat. The Greek word is that he compelled them.

He said, don't even stay around here. Get into a boat. Go to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. And meanwhile, what does Jesus do in the midst of great political accomplishment where he could have been a great candidate for office? It says in the middle of verse 23, he went up to the mountain himself to pray. And he prayed there for seven or eight hours. You know, Jesus loved to pray. And Jesus as a man even needed to pray.

And you and I think that we can get by without it. But Christ, the eternal son of God, whenever he had a spare moment, he spent it in communion with his heavenly father. He loved to pray. And then Jesus leaves and finds out, and of course he knew all along, didn't he, that the disciples were still not across the Sea of Galilee. They were agonizing because there in the midst of the sea was the biggest storm they had ever encountered.

A couple of preliminary observations before I get to the heart of my message. You know that the disciples didn't know that when Christ was on the mountain that he could see them. He knew precisely their longitude and latitude. He knew where they were, even though they couldn't see him. And you know that in the storms of life, sometimes we can't see God. But I want you to know that that is not nearly as important as the fact that God sees us. And some of you this past week feel as if God has hid his face from you.

And I want you to know that that's OK if you don't see his face because he's watching you even when you can't see him. And then in a preliminary way, I want you to be reminded of the fact that they were in the will of God when they encountered this storm. If they were living in this generation, they'd say to themselves, you know, we must be out of God's will because the will of God is always tranquil. If you marry the right one, there's never any conflict.

But if you have an argument, it must be because you married the wrong one. Well, the answer, of course, is that oftentimes in the midst of the will of God, in obedience to Christ, who said, get into the boat and go to the other side, the greatest storms of life sometimes encompass us at the very moment when we are obedient to God. And some of you are going through storms today, not because you've been disobedient, not because you're out of God's will, but because you've been obedient and you are in God's will.

And that's why the storm is so fierce. Also I look at this passage and I'm reminded of the fact that when Jesus came to them, they didn't recognize him. It says in verse 25, in the fourth watch of the night, he came to them walking upon the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were frightened. And they said, the Greek word is it's a phantom, it's a ghost. And they cried out for fear. And you know that they did not know that the thing that made them afraid was actually God who was going to comfort them. And some of you this past week received news that may have made you afraid. It may well be that there's something happened in your life that is inexplicable.

The bottom has fallen out. And what you don't understand is that in those moments of desperation and hurt, actually God is near you and going to use that event to put his arms around you. Dr. Harry Ironside, who preached from this pulpit many times, a long time before I was around, said that one day he was playing with his little boy and he was pretending, that is Dr. Ironside, was pretending to be a bear. And suddenly the little boy ran up to him and said, you're not a bear, you're my papa. And sometimes that which we fear, the bear, turns out to be the arms of God. And his arms are big enough even if you have a son who has AIDS, to find out that his arms are able to envelop you and that which you fear can also become a means that God can turn into blessing. All that by way of introduction.

Aren't you glad you came? If that's the introduction, how long is the sermon going to be? Well, relax. I already checked it out.

You have nothing to do this afternoon. All right, Peter. Here's Peter and we'd like to take three snapshots of him, three snapshots of him in this passage of scripture. Snapshot number one, Peter sees Christ.

Verse 27, Jesus spoke to them and said, take courage, it is I, do not be afraid. And the minute his voice wafted across the waters, they knew who it was. And Peter saw that this was Jesus and he recognized him to be his king. Peter saw the Lord. What kind of a Lord did he see? Well, he saw a Lord who was omniscient, that is to say a Lord who knows all things. Jesus knew that they were filled with fear. He knew the whereabouts of the boat.

And by the way, when Jesus walked onto them, the Gospel of John says that the boat was four miles from the shore, four miles from the shore. And Jesus is walking on this water. He is the God who is omniscient. He knows all things. He is also the God who is omnipotent. He is the God of power, the God of might, the God who can defy the laws of gravity. Jesus was walking across the water and he wasn't sinking. I remember in 11th grade physics, and it's the only thing that I remember from 11th grade physics, the buoyant force exerted by a liquid is equal to the weight of the water displaced. You remember that? How many of you remember that formula?

Fourteen of you. The rest of you can walk on water. The fact is that you're not supposed to be able to walk on water. He wasn't skiing. This wasn't a motorboat experience. He is walking on water because he was displacing very little water, perhaps almost none, and yet he was not sinking. And my 11th grade physics teacher said that that ain't supposed to happen. If he said it that way, he should have actually been in an English class.

But nevertheless, you're not supposed to be able to do that. But this isn't your ordinary person. This is the creator of the sun, the moon, the stars. This is God. And if God wants to walk on water, God walks on water. And that's who Peter saw. Snapshot number one, he saw Christ.

Snapshot number two, given his nimble mind, he saw an incredible opportunity. It says, verse 28, Peter answered him and said, Lord, I know that our translations say, if it is you, the Greek text says, since it is you. There was no doubt in his mind as to who it was that was walking on the water. Since it is you, come to me or command me to come to you on the water.

Speak the word Lord and I'll do what you're doing. I know that generally we think, well, Peter was so impetuous that he always was the kind of person who wanted to do the big heroic act. We might interpret this to mean that Peter wanted to say, Hey, look ma, no hands. Believe me.

I'm not so sure. I think Peter so loved Christ that when he saw Christ walking on the water, his desire to get to be with Christ and to be with Christ was so strong. He was almost saying, Lord, I can't wait until you make it to the boat. Let me come to you. And so he asks permission. He is not entirely impetuous. He could have just presumptuously hopped in and said, I'm coming Lord. Now save me. But he didn't. What did he do? He said, Lord, command me to come.

Give me the word and I will do it. Speak Lord. And Jesus very graciously said in a single word.

He said, come, come. Peter hops out of the boat. And for a moment, if you had been there with a video camera, you would have noticed something that there was no longer just one person walking on the water, but there are now two people walking on the water. Incredibly two people. So far as we know throughout history, there have only been two people who have ever walked on the water. And that is the Lord Jesus Christ and Peter.

Everybody else who tells you that they have walked on the water, they're the people who know where the rocks are. For a brief moment, Peter is doing what his Lord is doing. He is also triumphant over the laws of nature.

He is also breaking that law of physics that a buoyant force exerted by a liquid is equal to the weight of the water displaced. And Peter is walking with his master on the sea of Galilee. And he feels firmness beneath his feet as he walks to Christ. That's snapshot number two.

Peter saw an opportunity and he took it. Snapshot number three, verse 30. But seeing the wind, he became afraid and beginning to sink, he cried out saying, and you know, there's a time for a long prayers.

And some of you think that that happens every Sunday morning. It's time for a long prayer. And then there are times when you just don't have time for a long prayer. And so you say it in three words, Lord, save me. And this was a time for a short prayer.

And what does the text say? And immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and took hold of him and said to him, oh, you have little faith. Why did you doubt?

Jesus did not rebuke Peter because he was so desirous to come to him, but he did rebuke him for his lack of faith. Why did Peter look at the wind and the waves? Why did he do that? Well, just think. Think for a moment, because he recognized that he was doing something that really no normal person is supposed to be able to do. You're not supposed to be able to walk on water.

It hasn't happened before. And furthermore, once he began to do it, it seemed to be so supernatural and the wind was so strong, it was pushing against him and the waves were making so much noise that in his distraction, he glanced over there and saw what it was that he was doing, and he took his eyes off Christ. That's what happened to Peter. And so he had to cry out, Lord, save me. What are the lessons to be learned here?

Lesson number one. Will you remember that the water that threatens to be over your head in the storms of life, the water that threatens to be over your head is water. Believe me, that is under Christ's feet. Because if you're a believer, you share in the victory of a very triumphant, omnipotent, omniscient savior, and he's walking on the water in which you are drowning.

Always remember that. I want you to know that there is no situation in life, even the situations that took place in your life this past week, that are either a surprise to Christ, that catch him off guard, or for which he is ill-prepared. He is the God who has been watching you in that storm, and he knew exactly when to come to the disciples at the fourth watch of the night when it was as if they were exhausted, and Jesus shows up at the moment when they desperately needed him.

He was monitoring it all from the hilltop. I want you to know today that Jesus Christ is triumphant over the storm that you're experiencing. Seven thirty this morning, the phone rings in the Lutzer household. It's a relative of ours in another state that is going through a messy, awful divorce. Husband that was unfaithful, and now it's time to get that divorce, you know, and now suddenly he wants partial custody of the kids that he never loved when he lived with her. You know why he wants that, don't you? Is it because he loves them? Of course it's not because he loves them. He wants them because he needs to assuage his guilt so that he thinks to himself, you know, I'm a good father after all because I really do want these kids. And secondly, that's the bargaining chip to get at his wife, you see.

And so the preliminary hearing is that he's supposed to get the children at least a little bit of the time, and the children go over there and they cry because they don't want to be with daddy, they want to be with mommy, and mommy has to sit there and go through this anguish and anger and wondering how in the world she's going to make it. And so she phoned us at seven thirty today just for a little bit of encouragement because she said, I don't know if I can go on. I said to her, well, I want you to know that this morning I'm preaching at Moody Church on Peter walking on the water. And I said, I want you to know that the water that engulfs you is water on which Christ is triumphant and is walking. But I said to her, remember this, that just because you look at Christ, that does not mean that the wind is going to stop.

It does not mean that the waves are going to cease to make their noise because even when Peter was walking on water, the storm was still blowing and the waves were still high. So remember, I don't know, dear lady, how much pain you are going to have to go through. I don't know how many tears you are going to have to shed. I don't know how long these situations are going to drag on because I've noticed that sometimes they drag on for months and years and sometimes it seems as if the storm never ends. But remember that in your trial, Jesus Christ knows, he understands and he's walking on the water that is threatening to pull you under. You know, as a pastor, I've always believed that one of the best things I can do to help people is to paint a picture of the sovereignty of Jesus Christ over every single circumstance. And of course, that was something that the church in Germany had to learn. In my book entitled Hitler's Cross, I tell the story of a man by the name of Martin Niemöller. Niemöller was a man who eventually stood against Hitler and he was in a concentration camp – a fascinating story – but before he left to be tried and he knew he would be found guilty, he gave a speech to his congregation and I'm reading just a couple of lines. Satan swings his sieve and Christianity is thrown hither and thither and he who is not ready to suffer, he who calls himself a Christian only because he thereby hopes to gain something, he will be blown away like chaff.

Now the wheat and the chaff are being separated. There's so many lessons we have to learn and you know, for a gift of any amount, this book can be yours. It's entitled Hitler's Cross. Here's what you do.

I hope you have a pen or pencil so that you can write this down. Go to RTWOffer.com. That's RTWOffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

RTWOffer.com. It's time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. In a healthy marriage, both partners need to be on the same page. An anonymous Running to Win listener is asking this, how do you counsel a couple when one is clearly a narcissist and causing emotional and physical destruction to the spouse?

Well, first of all, let me say that the way in which the question is asked, I'm not sure if you are one of the mates in this relationship or whether you are asking about some other couple. But either way, I would say this. This question is based on the fact that I preached a message regarding narcissism. Really, the title of the message is Becoming an Impossible Person.

I preach that because there are people who are impossible. The Bible talks about those who have a very hardened conscience. And so how do you counsel them? Well, you counsel them by understanding their situation, their context and their personalities. That's why I can't help you very much, actually, because it depends on the extent of the narcissism.

It depends on whether or not it involves abuse. But I will say this about the narcissist. You have to lower your expectations. Narcissists may be very nice. Oftentimes, they are charming people. That's why they win people over. They appear very, very nice in public. So they have to appear good, but they don't have to be good.

So that in private, they are something else. So obviously, someone who is married to a narcissist needs a lot of guidance, a lot of counsel. And each situation is different. And all that I can do is to pray that God will keep the marriage together and that there will be enough changes in the relationship to make it faithful and fulfilling. But for that, there is going to have to be determination, counsel and guidance.

The road is not easy. A word of wise counsel from Dr. Erwin Lutzer. Thank you, Dr. Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at RTWOffer.com and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer. Or call us at 1-888-218-9337.

That's 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. Violent winds can arise quickly on the Sea of Galilee, turning tranquility into terror. On this canvas, the Bible paints a vivid picture of faith coming alive in the midst of upheaval. Next time on Running to Win, you can picture yourself in a storm-tossed boat. We'll turn again to Matthew chapter 14 as Peter joins Jesus on some churning water. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-20 21:59:53 / 2023-03-20 22:08:54 / 9

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