“Choose This Day”
April 22, 2018 A.D.
by Pastor Ben Willis

April 26th, 2018 by mdevita

MATTHEW 14:22-33 [NLTse]

22 Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that His disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while He sent the people home. 23 After sending them home, He went up into the hills by Himself to pray. Night fell while He was there alone.

24 Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw Him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”

27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” He said. “Take courage. I am here!”

28 Then Peter called to Him, “Lord, if it’s really You, tell me to come to You, walking on the water.”

29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.

31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt Me?”

32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped Him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.


These past few weeks since Easter I’ve been preaching through what some have called “The Hard Sayings of Jesus”. The Sunday after Easter we looked at the Lord Jesus’ telling us to gouge out our eyes and cut off our hands if those body parts were causing us to sin. Last week we looked at the Beatitudes and the Lord’s telling us about the blessedness of spiritual poverty, and the blessedness

of mourning and grief, and the blessedness of being persecuted and being mocked and being lied about…

This week I want to look at this hard rebuke the Lord gives the apostle Peter, Simon Peter. The event takes place immediately after the Lord has finished feeding more than 5,000 men, women, and children with just five loaves of bread and two fish. As Roger just read, the Lord Jesus has sent the disciples across the lake ahead of Him while He stays back to dismiss the crowds. It’s the middle of the night and the disciples still haven’t reached the other side of the lake. They’ve encountered a strong head-wind (which means the wind is blowing against them instead of with them), and so they are either rowing or taking a zig-zag route tacking across the Sea of Galilee making the trip three or four times as long. That and the wind has stirred up some good-sized waves that they are working against, and you get the picture.

So, it’s the pitch black middle of the night, and the disciples are exhausted from trying to sail against the wind and waves and, one of them sees something that looks like a figure moving along the surface of the whitecaps. Word spreads around the boat and soon they are all completely freaking out because they’re sure it must be a ghost coming at them.

So, I’m picturing them screaming and shrieking like little girls (no offense, of course, but little girls are known for being magnificent screamers and shriekers!)… But, it’s not a ghost. It’s the Lord Jesus. And He hears their screaming and shrieking and calls out to them, “Don’t be afraid! Take courage! I am!”


So, the Lord Jesus is standing there amidst the wind, whitecaps, and the waves. (Maybe He’s just standing there still, or maybe He’s riding the swells up and down as He stands there, as though nothing out of the ordinary were going on.) And Peter – Simon Peter – says, “Lord, if it’s really You then

allow me to walk on the water out to You.” And, as we know, the Lord Jesus says, “Yes, Peter, come.”

And Peter climbs over the side. It’s pitch black, The Lord Jesus is still a ways off, but it could be Him. The wind is still blowing hard and the waves are still tossing the boat about. And Peter climbs out into it all, and finds solid ground! As we’ve said about Jesus, maybe Peter’s found a solid place to stand or perhaps he’s riding the ups and downs of the cresting waves, but he’s standing on the surface of the Sea of Galilee with Jesus!

I picture Peter’s eyes glued on Jesus’ face, still a distance away but close enough that Peter can make out some features. And Peter takes a step – up and down, up and down, perhaps – and takes another step – the wind blowing his hair and robes as he rides the waves up and down and up and down. But then perhaps something catches his eye and draws his focus away from the Lord. Peter sees the darkness and the deep, dark waters crashing around him, and he realizes how crazy it is for him to be walking on the surface of a lake! And he goes under!

(One of our stained-glass windows pictures the scene…) And Peter, lost in the storming waves and blowing wind, cries out (as he’s gasping for breath), “Lord, save me!”

And Jesus is instantly near and reaches out His hand to pull Peter to safety.

And here’s where I’ve been bringing us, because, there, carrying a drenched Peter back to the boat, Jesus says to him, “Peter, you have so little faith. Why did you doubt Me?”

There are three Greek words that get translated into our English word “doubt”: Distazo, diakrino, and dialogismos. Distazo carries the idea of standing in two different places at the same time (picture a game of Twister and trying to have your left hand on yellow, your right foot on green, your left foot on red, and your right hand on blue while everyone else is trying to do the same thing, too! Diakrino is

similar but carries with it the idea of not having made a decision and needing more time: So, the picture of hesitating while the person thinks about it some more should come to mind. And, dialogismos is synonym of diakrino in that it conveys the idea of a debate still going on in your mind, so, undecided…

What each of the words has in common is a lack of commitment: Distazo is trying to be everything to everyone, trying to have your cake and eat it, too, and unwilling to commit to anything that might jeopardize your options; diakrino is hesitating because you haven’t weighed all the pros and cons yet, you haven’t counted the cost, you’re not ready to commit yet, you need more time; and, likewise, dialogismos, the debate is still raging, you need to think it through some more, you’re not ready to commit.

And the Lord Jesus is saying to Peter, “You trusted Me enough to know you could walk on the water if I called you to do it; and, you trusted Me enough to climb over the side of the boat to take a few steps; but, you weren’t willing to trust Me and commit to Me once you remembered the raging wind and the waves. Why won’t you trust Me more? When will you commit to Me?”

How many of us would climb over the side of a boat to try and go water skiing on windy, choppy water in the middle of the night? Let alone, try to do it without water skis or the tow rope? That’s bold! That’s a lot of faith! But Jesus is calling for more from us because He has more for us!

How many of you act one way when you’re with non-Christian people and another way when you’re at church or with your Christian friends? After the Lord Jesus was raised from the dead, Matthew writes: “When they saw Him, they worshiped Him—but some of them doubted!” (Matthew 28:17) Depending upon who they were talking with they said they believed Jesus had overcome death! But when they were with others they would say they didn’t… Would that work for your friends, if

sometimes you behaved friendly to them but at other times pretended like you didn’t know them? Would that work for your husband or your wife, if sometimes you displayed your commitment and devotion and at other times treated them like anyone else? It’s walking in two different directions when we behave in such ways. And when you do that you can sometimes get away with it for a while, but, eventually, it will tear you in two and you’ve got to choose!

How many of you hear God’s voice but then think about whether or not you should obey? “Well, if I do what the Holy Spirit has said then this might happen or that might happen, or people around me might think this about me or might think that about me? Should I do it? Shouldn’t I? Help me, Lord!” And yet, we already know what the Lord wants us to do! The Lord Jesus said to His disciples that that kind of questioning will keep us from being able to do the miraculous in-the-moment wonders that God wants done around us, like when Jesus caused the fig tree to wither. It’s that kind of committed, I’m-going-to-do-what-Jesus-says-to-do-as-soon-as-He-says-to-do-it faith that will allow us to say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and have it happen!

The Lord Jesus Christ has not called us to a good life. He has not called us to an easy life. He has not called us to a comfortable life. He has not called us to the life we’ve always wanted. No. Our Wonderful Counselor, our Mighty God, our Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace has called us to an abundant life! And that richness and fullness and abundance requires wholehearted and ongoing commitment. Commitment that drives us out of the boat and onto the crashing waves and walking on the water with Him. Not half-way to Him, not most of the way to Him, but wholehearted and ongoing commitment that gets us all the way home!

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