“Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds.” (Matthew 14:22)
To paraphrase, and set the scene, Jesus and the disciples had just gotten done “cleaning up the crumbs” and gathering up the leftovers after the feeding of the multitudes (five thousand according to scripture) from two fish and five loaves of bread. According to the above verse, after the tidying up was done, Jesus had the disciples get into the boat (the one he had disembarked from after trying to get some away time) and start for the other side of the sea.
“And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,” (Verse 23)
Jesus was trying to get some “alone time” performing the miracle of the loaves and fishes, and maybe to finish whatever meditation time had been interrupt by the crowds earlier. It took several hours, we assume, for Jesus to be refreshed and ready for what might come. And, there was more to come!
“ . . . but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea.” (Verses 24 – 25)
Now, I am not quite sure how this timing worked out. Jesus was done his meditation time some time in the evening, or was praying to the Lord through the night. I am not questioning that it might have taken overnight or disbelieve that one could be in prayer that long. And maybe the mountain was a bit of a hike away. But in any case, he was away from them from the afternoon or early evening until the next early morning. Long enough, we have to assume, for the disciples to be “out to sea” literally and figuratively. Much farther out than the disciples expected to see anyone else NOT in a boat!
“But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear.” (Verse 26)
Now imagine, tossed on a stormy and restless sea, they see an apparition coming towards them. Maybe seemingly from out of nowhere or from the turbulent sea itself. Scared already, now even more scared.
“But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” (Verse 27)
Be honest, beloved reader, after seeing Jesus do a miracle with multiplying food for five thousand, would you doubt that it was he walking on the water as if strolling down a solid path? Would you doubt it? Would you question it? Depends who you are I guess.
“Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Verses 28 – 30)
How often, beloved reader, do you feel called by the Lord God & Jesus Christ, most naturally heeding that call, oblivious to anything else? And then realize that you are deeper in than you thought?
“Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Verse 31)
Who is the “you”, beloved reader? Just Peter, or all of the disciples? Or is it all of us who have been called, and answer the call. And then find out that our own humanness is not sufficient to the challenge involved? I will raise my hand and freely admit that I have had “little faith” and felt myself sinking, only to be pulled up by the Divine Hand. More than once. And once rescued, the turmoil I though I was in subsided.
“When they got into the boat, the wind ceased.” (Verse 32)
In circumstances like that, there is really only one thing we can do.
“And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” (Verse 33)