Step out of the Boat
So often when we come across the Walking on Water story, we zoom in on Peter, his incredible first step out of the boat before his sinking fear seeps in. What we tend to glance over is that Jesus walked on water too! Perhaps we take it for granted because we’ve heard the story so many times, or maybe because we just presume this is normal for the Son of God. But look at the story again with fresh eyes, as if you were reading it for the first time – the disciples thought Jesus was a ghost because it is not normal to be able to walk on water!
There’s a deeper significance at play here. In Matthew’s Gospel, the author is writing for the Jewish community that has embraced the Christ as the Messiah. Thus, this account of the Gospel is littered with Old Testament call backs, linking Jesus to the Jewish Scriptures. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus’ fulfilment of the Old Testament is depicted through his portrayal as the New Moses.
Remember, it was Moses at the peak of the Exodus story who stands before the Red Sea at its parting.
Jesus as the New Moses doesn’t part the waters for only some to cross through. He walks upon the water and calls us out onto its surface, for our transformation and renewal.
The walking on water is one of the many events within Matthew’s Gospel that indicates Jesus, the New Moses, comes to initiate a New Covenant, one for all people. A relationship with Jesus, who calls us out of the boat – out of mediocrity, passivity and away from the status quo – to walk on water. The New Covenant is transformation, healing, redemption and salvation.
For us reading this passage today, perhaps we can understand Peter’s fear after those first, tentative steps. To follow Jesus onto the water is a calling of our whole selves into a new life with Christ. What does the boat represent for you? What are the things that hold you back or prevent you from witnessing your faith with your family, friends, peers, at work? What do you need to let go of to step out of the boat and enter fully into life with Christ?