Weekly Devotion for August 7, 2023
By PyungAhn “Peace” Kim
Don't boo on Peter
based on Matthew 14:22-33
Let’s not be too quick to judge Peter. He did make an audacious move with faith when he recognized Jesus amidst the storm.
In the lectionary gospel reading for this coming Sunday, we see Peter dare to step onto the turbulent waters. Don’t boo on him. When was the last time we took such a bold action of faith, venturing towards the place where the Lord was calling us?
What struck me most in this story is Jesus’ location. Amidst the storm, he called out, “Come.” The word “Come” must have offered Peter a different kind of assurance compared to an order of “Go.” When I read Peter’s response, “Lord, if it’s you, order me to come to you on the water” (Matthew 14:28, CEB, emphasis is mine), it becomes evident that his greatest desire was to be by Jesus’ side.
The disciples had struggled all night to cross the lake, battling strong headwinds and relentless waves, yet finding relatively safety in the boat. But Peter chose to step out of the boat to be with Jesus, even if it meant confronting the chaos of the storm. Remarkably, Peter didn’t ask Jesus to come to their boat and calm the storm. His priority was not merely seeking Jesus’ power to fix the problem, but rather being in Jesus’ presence itself.
Of course, we read Peter began to sink when he noticed the forceful wind and fear took hold of him. Did he fail? It might appear so. However, I believe his true failure was losing sight of what he was responding to. It was the calling of Jesus on the water that mattered, not the fear from the water without Jesus.
Don’t boo on Peter yet. Though the storm that terrified him was the one in which he lost sight of Jesus, in the very storm he cried out to Jesus, “Save me” and again, it was the storm in which he found himself in the Lord’s hands. I cannot condemn him for his moment of sinking. He didn’t attempt to save himself but acknowledged his need for Jesus. This is another example of faith Peter displayed.
How much we relate to this story! Our lives, both personal and collective as the United Methodist Church, often mirror Peter’s experience - facing a mass of challenges and being battered by them. This is true to me as I have entered a new sea which is my new appointment as a District Superintendent. May we be inspired by Peter’s example, desiring to be where Jesus is, regardless of the circumstances. Like Peter, may we step out with audacious faith, knowing that each bold stride takes us closer to Jesus. Let’s not be foolish by acting like we can save ourselves, but be blessed with the knowledge that we have a Savior we can call upon. Praise be to the Lord!