There is a great book by Presbyterian Pastor John Ortberg entitled If you want to walk on water you have to get out of the boat. Here is the link if you were interested in checking it out: http://www.amazon.com/Want-Walk-Water-Youve-Boat/dp/0310340462. Peter walking on water in this chapter in Matthew is a classic Scripture which reminds us that it does take risk in order to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Many are internally wired to be risk averse. Then there are others of us who are wired to be risk takers. I’m thinking Jesus was wired to be a risk taker and Peter was definitely risk averse. He didn’t really want to get out on the water. He needed Jesus to call him out.
Do you notice what it is that causes Peter to start to sink? “But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened.” When the winds of life blow we become frightened. Did you hear today’s sermon, where fear is called out by Jesus as an enemy to his mission and ministry? Consistently Jesus blesses us with the opportunity to go through life without fear. Without fear we are able to walk on the waters that are tumultuous or smooth. Without fear we have a confidence that allows us to take risks that normally we would not take.
I don’t want to skip the story of the feeding of 5,000 but it is important to see that at the beginning of the story Jesus withdraws by himself as a result of the death of his cousin, John. It was really a murder by Herod, which must have caused some consternation for Jesus since they were considered pretty much the same person with the same message by many around him. What was it that drove him back to be with the people? Notice on vs. 14 we read that he had compassion on those who sought him. He had compassion on those who needed healing, and also had compassion on those who were gathered for they had nothing to eat.
The compassion of Jesus comes out so clearly in these verses, a compassion that drives him to reach out and come out of hiding. We learn about Jesus that he has a compassion for us even while he wants us to take risks in life that will draw us closer to him and closer to the ones that he loves.