If you’ve been around church for very long, you’ve probably heard the story in today’s Bible reading of Jesus’ walking on the water. (Matthew 14:22-33) Simon Peter asks Jesus to command him to walk on the water which Jesus does. As he approaches Jesus, Peter looks around, and seeing the waves, he is frightened and begins to sink. At this point, Peter is with Jesus, so when he cries out to Jesus, He simply reaches down and picks him up out of the water. Jesus rebukes Peter for his “little faith”. As Jesus and Peter climbed into the boat, the storm ceased on its own. The Disciples immediately worshipped Jesus and acknowledged His deity.
Peter is an easy target for ridicule. Oftentimes, Peter seems to speak a few seconds before engaging his brain. But in this instance, it worked in Peter’s favor. Yes, Peter’s failed attempt to stand next to Jesus on the water revealed his small faith. But he did step out of the boat. And he was the only Disciple to do so. The other eleven were so terrified, they didn’t dare ask Jesus anything.
I have written about mustard seed faith elsewhere and we’ll read about it in a couple of days. The main point about faith of a mustard seed isn’t that it’s small, but that it grows. Jesus praises a little bit of faith, yet He condemns Peter’s little faith. So what’s going on?
He says elsewhere that if you have the faith of a mustard seed, you can tell a mountain to jump into a lake and it will. But the size of the faith isn’t what matters. Instead it is the object of the faith and the exercise of that faith that makes it grow.
Getting back to Peter. He had little faith. But it was enough to get out of the boat. So why did Jesus rebuke Peter’s exercise of faith? Because obviously not all of Peter’s faith was in Jesus. And that’s where we get into trouble telling people to “believe in themselves”.
To believe in yourself is to not believe in Jesus. Peter’s exercise may have begun with believing in Jesus, but he began to sink when he took His eyes off Jesus and began to look at his circumstances and surroundings.
So how’s your faith? Do you have a growing faith? If you have put your faith in Jesus, you are a Believer. You are a child of God. But God wants you to have more than just saving faith. He wants for you to have a growing faith. And the only way to have a growing faith is to exercise it.
Exercising your faith can be scary. Exercising your faith can seem like the craziest thing you’ve ever thought of. But exercising your faith will make it easier to exercise it next time. Each success helps you to build for future success. In the same way, refusing to exercise your faith will result in less “tone” in your “faith muscle”, making it more difficult to exercise it in the future.
So don’t look down on Peter if you’re still cowering in the boat.