What If?

There he was. Beginning to sink.
The waves rolling around and the wind blowing a gale.
He’d stepped out of a boat and taken a few steps. On water. Wet unpredictable water.
And the laws of nature were taking over again. Just moments before the lake had become like land but now it was lake again.

And as I read, I thought, “What if?”
What if this old story could be read another way? From a different perspective?
Not to illustrate a faith, or degrees of faith, or a lack of faith, or the marvellous miracle-working wonders of the Messiah, but as a kind of prophecy. A signpost. A pointer.

Bear with me a moment …
I’m reading Matthew’s gospel chapter 14 verses 22 to 33.
The disciples are in a boat in a storm on their own at night and they’re worried. They think they see a ghost approaching which could be a ghost or it could be Jesus. So Peter calls out and Jesus answers and Peter takes a few steps towards Jesus on the water.
(Yes. You read me right. On water.)
And then he realises what he’s doing and feels the wind and starts to sink.
Understandable, really.

But reading it as a prophecy, a foretelling, a prediction in picture of Peter’s future - how so?
First off, walking on water is impossible.
Second off, if Peter did it something super-natural happened. Something beyond the laws of nature. Pigs don’t fly. And flies don’t grunt.

Peter got a few things wrong in his time. Once Jesus called him ‘Satan’ (not a compliment) and three times he disowned Jesus. But he got far more right- recognising Jesus as the Christ, healings, miracles, leading the early church, preaching at Pentecost, receiving visions and, as tradition has it, dying by crucifixion upside down.

Peter: thank you for being impulsive, for sticking your neck out and risking playing the fool. And thank you for showing us that when things seem impossible, that’s totally irrelevant when we’re doing what Jesus has asked us to.

Jesus said his disciples would do greater things than him.
And he said that if they had a tiny amount of faith like a mustard seed they could move mountains. BTW, mustard seeds are rather minuscule.
And Paul was convinced through long experience that he could do all things through Christ who gave him strength.

So, what if Jesus was hinting that defying gravity would be the norm for practising Christians?
That by following him, looking to him, listening to him, trusting him, obeying him, and just taking him at his word and relying on him, we would live life on a different level?

My guess is that we’re all being invited to step out of the boat in different ways. Being drawn to trust more. Especially now. And to feel the fear of failing. But to run the risk of following him, regardless.

Not to say, “What if, Lord?”, but “What next?”

Angus Lyon