The Catch of The Day
September 27, 2011 Leave a comment
I have often returned to the eyewitness account of Jesus walking on the water and of Peter’s eager attempt to do the same. I do so especially when I am not sure about my next step.
It is an unusual account not only because the rules of physics were usurped but also because Jesus is meeting the men in the midst of their daily work.
Peter and the others made their living as fisherman. Everything they needed depended on the day’s catch. The families of these men and the markets were waiting at home. So come hell or high water they would go out on the Sea of Galilee trawling for fish.
One night hell and high water came –a fierce storm suddenly arose. Their small fishing boat was buffeted by the wind and the waves. The sail was useless and rowing had become impossible. Their whole effort was used to keep an even keel so as not to capsize and lose their nets in the process.
In the rain-swept darkness there suddenly walked a figure – a man walking on the water towards them. Perhaps, they thought, it is a ghost. No one in their right mind would be out in this weather and certainly not for a stroll on the sea. This did not bode well for superstitious fishermen.
During a streak of lightning, perhaps, Peter thinks he recognizes the profile of Jesus. At this point Peter might have said to himself, “Jesus! Jesus is not safe. He’s way out on the deep end. Walking on water just might be another one of those “Jesus things’ that keep you guessing. But, my gut tells me to go with it for now.”
Out of the gale comes a voice, “Take courage! It is I.Don’t be afraid.”
So Peter yells, “Lord, if it is you, tell me to come to you on the water.” And Jesus said “Come!”
Peter stood up in the small boat almost tipping it over. Unsteady, heart racing, he grabbed the hull with one hand and lifted his right leg out of the boat. He put his right foot down on the water. His foot made no hole in the water. He slowly shifted his balance and brought his left leg out of the boat. Peter stood on the substance of things not seen. He straightened up and looked over at Jesus. The storm was still raging behind the apparition-turned-Apotheosis.
Yet, in an instant the full weight of Peter’s reason, creating a confluence of fear, opened the sea below him like a watery trap door. He sank down into water over his head.
Treading in the choppy waters as best he could, Peter cried for help, “Lord, save me!”
Jesus caught hold of Peter’s hand and pulled him up. While holding Peter’s hand and looking Peter square in the eye (I can only imagine.) Jesus said, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
“And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” “
Hoisting the sail, Peter and the crew got back to the business at hand – making a living from being gut sure of what they hoped for and being more certain of what they did not see – fishing.
The eyewitness account that relates Peter’s story is recorded in Matthew’s Gospel (14:22-33)