One day, the disciples were in a boat on a stormy sea, struggling against the wind. Suddenly, they saw a person walking on the water towards them. “Is it a spirit?” they cried out for fear. Who was it? It was Jesus walking towards them. “Peter answered Him and said, Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water. And He said, Come.” Matthew 14:28–29
Immediately, Peter jumped out of the boat, and by a miracle he could walk on the water. But then, when he saw the wind and the waves, as he turned his eyes away from Jesus, he began to sink and cried out, “Lord save me.”
Normally in life what we do once, then the next time we can do it better as we practice whatever it is. Later as we can do it alone, we do not need the teacher. But in religion it does not work this way.
E.J. Waggoner makes an example of Peter walking on the water in his book.
One time he could walk on the water and the next time he could not. In our Christian life the same thing happens often. Which is easier—to walk on water or to live a perfect Christian life? Both are impossible for us alone.
As soon as Peter turned his eyes away from Jesus he began sinking, and as soon as we stop praying we fall into sin.
“No man is safe for a day or an hour without prayer.” –The Great Controversy, p. 530
After walking with Jesus for many years and looking to Him, are we finally able to take a few steps alone, without looking to Him? Judas had been in the company of Jesus three and a half years, and then he decided to take a few steps alone and he ended up making terrible mistakes. Separated from Christ we would make similar mistakes as Judas did. Jesus said, “Without Me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5
This explains why some people have a dual personality. One day they are humble, pious, missionary-minded, and full of zeal for God, and the next moment they are like the devil himself, the complete opposite.
Peter was like this. In Matthew chapter 16 Peter said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (v. 16). This was spoken by the Holy Spirit through Christ. In the same chapter, verse 22, Peter said, “Be it far from Thee, Lord: this shall not be unto Thee. But He turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind Me, Satan: thou, art an offense unto Me.” Matthew 16:22–23
God was speaking through Peter on the first occasion, and, shortly after, Satan was speaking through him to discourage Jesus. A little later Peter said to Jesus, “Though I should die with Thee, yet will I not deny Thee.” Matthew 26:35
A few hours later he said three times that he did not know Jesus, even by swearing and cursing (Matthew 26:69–75).
Peter was walking on water and the next moment he started sinking and lost his faith. Many are like Peter. They say that when the Sunday Law comes, they will go to prison and to death—they will not give up their Sabbath keeping, but they will be the first ones to give up the Sabbath and start worshipping on Sunday rather than suffer the penalty. Why? Because they will not look to Jesus every hour. They take their eyes away.
Walking on the water over the stormy sea is a miracle of God which we all need to do.
“So long as we are in the world, we shall meet with adverse influences. There will be provocations to test the temper; and it is by meeting these in the right spirit that the Christian graces are developed. If Christ dwells in us, we shall be patient, kind, and forbearing, cheerful amid frets and irritations.” –Ministry of Healing, p. 487
To remain calm and patient when irritated is a similar miracle as Peter walking on water. It can be done; the power of God is so great, but we need Christ to dwell in us.
Sister White writes, “There is a noble majesty in the silence of the one exposed to evil-surmising or outrage. To be a master of one’s spirit is to be stronger than kings or conquerors.” –SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 3, p. 1160
Satan is tempting all of us. He knows our weak points and as long as we live, he is attacking us on them.
One brother who had been faithful in the church for many years, now he was very discouraged. He had been walking on water but now he was sinking like Peter. He had been jostled, misunderstood and misrepresented. He had been carrying a heavy load, but it had not been appreciated. Sister White sent him an encouraging letter.
“I want you to have heaven. I know of no one who would appreciate heaven more than you, who have worked so untiringly to relieve suffering humanity, depriving yourself of sleep, neglecting to take food, bringing but little enjoyment into your life. At times there does not seem to be much sunshine in your path, only one long, continuous shadow. The afflictions you see, the dependent mortals looking and longing for help, your contact with depraved, corrupted human beings—this experience is of a character to undermine your faith in humanity.
“You must, indeed, look to Jesus, keeping your eyes fixed on the glory at the top of the ladder. Through Christ alone can you make sure of heaven, where all is purity, holiness, peace, and blessedness, where there are glories that mortal lips cannot describe. The nearest we can come to a description of the reward that awaits the overcomer is to say that it is a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. It will be an eternity of bliss, a blessed eternity, unfolding new glories throughout the ceaseless ages.
“You must be there. Whatever you lose here, be determined to make sure of eternal life. Never become discouraged. Many times I have seen that the everlasting arms were round about you, when you did not seem to realize or appreciate the great condescension of heaven. Live for Jesus.” –Testimonies for the Church, p. 130–131
“When temptations assail you, when care and perplexity surround you, when, depressed and discouraged, you are ready to yield to despair, look to Jesus, and the darkness that encompasses you will be dispelled by the bright shining of His presence. When sin struggles for the mastery in your soul, and burdens the conscience, look to the Saviour. His grace is sufficient to subdue sin. Let your grateful heart, trembling with uncertainty, turn to Him. Lay hold on the hope set before you. Christ waits to adopt you into His family. His strength will help your weakness; He will lead you step by step. Place your hand in His, and let Him guide you.
“Never feel that Christ is far away. He is always near. His loving presence surrounds you. Seek Him as One who desires to be found of you. He desires you not only to touch His garments, but to walk with Him in constant communion.” –The Ministry of Healing, p. 85
“My husband was just before me. Large drops of sweat were falling from his brow, the veins in his neck and temples were increased to double their usual size, and suppressed, agonizing groans came from his lips. The sweat was dropping from my face, and I felt such anguish as I had never felt before. A fearful struggle was before us. Should we fail here, all the difficulties of our journey had been experienced for naught.” –Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, p. 192
Dear brothers and sisters, should we fail now so near to the end? Satan comes with fierce temptations in the last desperate effort to separate us from God.
He is attacking the faithful brothers and sisters, who have been like pillars in the church. Great ministers, spiritual leaders have fallen, bright stars have gone out in darkness. When you took your first step in the Christian way, you needed Christ, and when you take your last step you still need Christ to guide you.
Do not turn your eyes away from Jesus even for a moment.
“Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” Isaiah 45:22
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
If you hunger and thirst for His righteousness, you will be filled with it. When you are tempted by Satan, cry to Jesus like Peter, “Lord, save me,” and He will lift you up. Look to Him and He will save you. AMEN.