Fix Your Eyes on Jesus

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Matthew 14:22-33)

“Jesus promised His disciples three things: that they would be completely fearless, absurdly happy, and in constant trouble.” -F.R. Maltby
The multitudes had been fed and were now even desirous of making the Master their king by force, therefore Jesus breaks up the assembly. He first sends His disciples ahead of Him by boat to the other side and then dismisses the crowd. Jesus himself retreats up the mountainside to be with His father–communing in private prayer –and there He stays until early morning. Even when the tempest begins to blow He remains steady, focused, and fervent in prayer. He continues to set the example for us according to His own teaching:

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:6)

While Jesus is praying, the disciples discover themselves paddling in a terrific tempest in the middle of the billowing sea. It is important to remember that they were exactly where Jesus had sent them; they had been obedient to His direction.

“Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you: everything passes away except God; God alone is sufficient.” -St. Theresa
Just because we are smack dab in the middle of a great turbulence does not for one second mean that we are not smack dab in the center His will. Indeed, the disciples seemed always to be going from the fire into the frying pan and yet they were ever in the center of God’s perfect and pleasing will.

Knowing their dire situation, Jesus sets out in mercy, walking on the water to rescue them and hastening to their help. Terrified that He was an apparition, they cry out in fear. I guess so! Here they are in the middle of a raging sea with pre-dawn darkness and all of a sudden they see someone in the distance walking on water. Not a usual sight to be sure! He gives the word: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” He makes Himself known and therein lays their sufficiency. It was enough to put them at ease, encouraging them against their fright. With those words it was as if He tells them, just like He tells every other believer in Him, “Don’t be afraid of the tempests and the waves of your circumstances. Do not fear them, I am with you.” Nothing is a terror to those whom Christ is with.

In the midst of this, we find Peter willing to walk on the water to meet the Lord Jesus. Peter asks permission and it’s granted by the One who created and can calm the sea. To Peter’s credit, he gets out of the boat! Through the strength of Jesus, Peter was kept from sinking into the water. He was upheld by Christ’s power. Isn’t that exactly what Jesus offers to all of us as well? There is no danger in sinking when underneath us are His everlasting arms of strength.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)

This begs the question for us all: Is our focus on the wind and turbulence of our circumstances or on the wisdom and truth of Jesus Christ? To answer that, perhaps we should assess our present situations: Are we walking on water even amidst our trials, or are we sinking like a brick? If we stay focused on Jesus, maintaining a complete reliance upon Him and not ourselves, we need not be concerned about how and where He engineers our circumstances. We need only to fix our gaze upon Him.

Take It to Heart

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
(Hebrews 12:1-3)

Previous – Next