Wednesday, April 17, 2013

No More Walking on the Water

Emily Bowen, a friend of mine from seminary recently made this comment on Facebook:

“Does anyone else find this sentence in scripture humorous? – ‘When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea.’”

Now that I visualize it, it does seem funny. The disciples are in the boat when they see the newly risen Jesus on the shore.  Peter stands up in the boat, puts his clothes on, then steps out of the boat and into the water.

That’s not how I go swimming.

Regardless of various theological interpretations, this would have gotten a laugh if it had been in front of an audience. 

Earlier in the Gospel, Peter had dared to step out of the boat and walk on top of the water to meet Jesus, but not this time. From then on there was no more walking on the water.  Everything would be harder. 

But better, too.

Later, by the fire, he stood before Jesus and was given the opportunity to state his love for the Rabbi, but it was painful rather than the boastful declarations he had made in the upper room before the crucifixion. Showing this love would require commitment and action. Furthermore, Jesus told him that he would face times when he would be powerless rather than impressive. 

There would be no more walking on the water.

And yet, as hard as everything would become, Peter was about to do his greatest work.  He would become the preacher, healer, and leader he had been destined to be, a true hero of the faith. 

Our greatest achievements come in the wake of humility, when we become willing to do the hard, unglamorous work.   


  1. I agree, that Peter's actions while seemingly odd and even humorous, are most likely teeming with theological meaning.
    I can sympathize with Peter in his awareness - that although he has been given a display of the power Jesus has over the elements of the worldly realm, even at this early time he is cognizant of what that commitment will mean to the ordinary life he is casting off.
    Living as a Christian, even in this day and age, is sometimes difficult and I often fall short of the mark of that humility. Every day it seems I have an opportunity to share the word of God and I rarely rise to the occasion.
    Thank you Pastor

    1. Hi Debbie, I'm afraid I have to disagree with you a bit. I know you well enough to see that you share the grace of God with each person you encounter, Maybe not in words, but it's nonetheless real.

      Oh, it doesn't feel magical from your perspective, but believe me, kindness and encouragement are much more miraculous than walking on the water.

    2. Thank you. :)