He had never done it before. He would never do it again. But for one glorious, dizzy moment Peter walked upon the waves. And they felt solid as cement, even while they moved like a roller coaster beneath his feet. If he didn't look at them, he was all right. It took him a moment to get his balance and get the hang of how to walk on a moving platform, but he did it. And therein lies a story. We really have three pictures to examine here.
First, there is a picture of peril. It had been a most remarkable day of sublime teaching, teaching that touched the heart and stirred the soul. But secretly everyone had hoped for a miracle—just one would do for now! And what a miracle it was when it came! There was the Lord, and there was the lad, and there were the loaves, a small boy's little lunch, magnanimously given to the Master. And suddenly there was bread enough and to spare to feed upwards of ten thousand hungry people! No wonder everyone wanted to crown Him king then and there! The Lord, however, quickly defused that package of high explosives. He sent the disciples away, first because they were as excited as the rest. Then, He stayed behind to quietly and efficiently dismiss the cheering multitudes.
"You fellows go on ahead. I'll meet you on the other side," He said. So off they went and soon afterward, evening twilight faded; and the darkness came. What a position they were in—adrift on life's tempestuous sea, without Christ, and in the dark. Darkness was followed by danger. A storm came, and what a storm it was! The disciples, many of them old hands at sailing that lake, knew how dangerous a storm on Galilee could be. They were in peril, and they knew it.
But there was something they'd forgotten. They were in the center of the Lord's will. His intention put them in that place of peril. His intercession preserved them in that place of peril. They were in the safest place on earth, in the very center of His will for them, right there, right then.
The next picture is one of panic. They were paralyzed with fear. The wind howled and the waves heaved, and the little ship was tossed about. They saw it, way out over the water: a human form climbing the crests of the wild waves and negotiating the deepest troughs. A ghost! After all, this was a demon-haunted lake. On its shores Christ had cast out many evil spirits. The disciples cried out in terror. Then came his cheerful hail: "It is I; be not afraid." Their terror fled. Jesus had come.
All this brings us to a picture of Peter, impulsive, impetuous Peter! Look at his desire. His desire was to walk upon those waves, to be like Jesus, to be with Jesus. Bravo, Simon Peter!
Notice his decision. The Lord called to him to come. Peter flung his feet over the side and placed them on the nearest wave and let go! It was the bravest thing he ever did before Pentecost. Well done, Peter!
Notice also his despair. One step, two steps. He could hardly believe it. Then, for a moment, distracted by the storm, he took his eyes off Jesus—and sank! "Lord, he cried, "save me." It is the gospel in three words. And saved he was!
Come to think of it, that was the best thing that could have happened. Apart from that sudden despair, Peter might have boasted afterward about his experience. He might have started a cult. A defeat that leaves us humble is better than a victory that leaves us proud.