Focal Passage: Matthew 14:22-33
Words like discouragement, melancholy, depression and spiritual lethargy are cousins — word groupings that speak to the kind of mental and spiritual disposition that warrants our attention. The opposite of discouragement is the word courage without the prefix. Discouragement is the inability to think or act as we ought to. Courage, on the other hand, is the God-enabled ability to think and act in faith.
Jesus alone (Matthew 14:22-26). Good things happen when Jesus is alone. Jesus would often withdraw for time alone with His Father. And when that happened something powerful would often follow. Jesus was alone in prayer after a busy day of ministry. While Jesus was at peace in prayer, the disciples were literally in a boatload of trouble. The boat they were in as they crossed the sea was being tossed and overwhelmed by the stormy waters.
Jesus came walking on the water on a mission to rescue His disciples from the stormy seas. The disciples were terrified at the sight of Jesus thinking Him to be a ghost (v. 26). The juxtaposition of this scene is remarkable. Jesus is calm, serene and in control. The disciples are terrified, wild-eyed and out of control.
Jesus in sight (Matthew 14:27-30). Jesus calmed the terrified disciples. In fact, Jesus said, “Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid” (v. 27). Rather than scold the fragility of His disciples’ faith, Jesus calmed them with assuring words of courage, hope and fearlessness.
Emboldened by Jesus’ infusion of courage, Peter asked to walk on the water. The disciple born with his foot in his mouth, is the first man out of the boat. You must hand it to Peter. His bold risk-taking spirit would serve him well once empowered by the Holy Spirit. For now, he proved to be a faithless man.
Rather than staying focused on Jesus, Peter looked away from Christ to the circumstances of his life (the waves), sinking into the stormy waters as a result. When we look away from Jesus, we lose our courage to think and act in ways that please God.
The smartest thing Peter did is what we must do as well. When he saw himself sinking, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” (v. 30). When we cry out to God for help God is faithful to respond.
Jesus to the rescue (Matthew 14:31-33). And what did Jesus do for His faithless disciples who were absent courageous faith? First, Jesus reached out and saved Peter. Second, Jesus identified the issue — their lack of faith. Third, Jesus calmed the storm. Fourth, the disciples worshiped Jesus. Finally, they confessed that Jesus was the “Son of God” (v. 33).
This lesson in courageous faith would later serve Peter well once empowered by the Spirit of God. On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit of God transformed the cowardly disciples into fearless, faithful, and courageous men of God. And who was at the head of the line in leading the fledgling church? Cowardly Peter became Peter the lionhearted.
Storms will rise, the winds will blow and a variety of trouble and trials will come our way. And when they do, we must call out to Jesus, let Him empower us in faith, and then do what He asks us to do in boldness. May God spiritually infuse us with this kind of courage. B&R