Sermon ~ Taking a Step in Faith

I think that the Gospel story we just heard is my favorite of all of the Gospels stories that we hear during the year.  This Gospel displays an enormous amount of faith on the part of not only Peter, but Jesus, and this is one of the reasons I chose Peter as my name in the Church.

I think I have told you the story in the past.  When someone is preparing to take monastic vows a name is chosen for them.  In the monastery I was in the Abbot asked us for input for the name that he would give us when we finally made vows.  We were to submit three names, in the order of preference, and a little information as to why you want that particular name.  It could be the name you were given at baptism or another name.  The only requirement was it could not be a name of someone already in the monastery.  So I turned in my list and Peter was on the top.  My reasons were his feast day is the same day as my birthday and like me, he always seemed to catch on just a little late, and he was always putting his foot in his mouth!  And I was given the name Peter.

We have been talking these last few weeks about the interior life and how we can become better Christians.  We have talked about forgiveness and confession.  We have discussed prayer and how to pray, and we have talked about reading the Scriptures.  This Gospel fits right in with what we have been discussing because if you do not take that first step, that step into the unknown, you will never begin the journey.

We heard in the story that the Apostles were caught in a great storm.  This storm could be anything, but for them, it was a wind storm and they were on a boat.  They were all fishermen and had experienced storms before so this one must have been a whopper for them to be nervous.  They look up and see a person walking towards them on the water.  Now I can only imagine what must have been going through their heads.  But they recognize this person as Jesus and Peter says, “if it is you Lord, command me to come to you on the water.”  So Jesus does just that.

Jesus called Peter out if you will.  Now all of the others are watching him to see what he is going to do.  Peter slowly throws his leg over the side of the boat and gets out.  I can imagine he sat on the side of the boat for a time trying to determine if this is actually what he wants to do.  I am sure the others were behind his saying words of encouragement to him and egging him on.  “Go on Pete, we are right here behind you!”

He stands up, all the time he is watching Jesus, and he begins to walk.  I can see his face, the shock and the great big smile as he gets closer to Jesus, his friend.  Then something happens, that something that happens to all of us when we are walking with the Lord the waves begin to rise, and we begin to have doubts and fears about where we are going.  At that moment, Peter takes his eyes off of Jesus, and he begins to sink.  Peter did not actually ask to walk on the water but to come to Jesus.  Peter’s desire was not to be part of this miracle, but to be close to his friend and His Lord and there was nothing that was going to stop him from obtaining that goal, that closeness with His friend.  As long as he kept his eye on Jesus Peter was able to participate in this miracle that was going on around him but the second he took his eyes off of Jesus it was game over.  The cause of Peter sinking in the water was not the storm or even the fact that Peter is heaver then the water, Peter began to sink because he started to waver, he began to hesitate, and he lost his focus.

Who are we in the story?  Are we Peter or are we the others who did not try and get out of the boat.  Are we clinging to the mast of the storm tossed ship or are we brave enough to say to Jesus, if it is you bid me walk on the water!  Are we brave enough to make that first step, a move that could cause us to sink.  Are we willing to throw our legs over the side of the boat and boldly walk toward Jesus?

We are being asked to do just that every day.  We are being asked to take a step of faith and to walk, no run, towards Jesus our salvation.  Yes, we will run into all sorts of problems along the way.  The waves of life will be crashing all around us.  The temptations of this world will be rising up all around us with all their charms to try and distract us from the mission that is at hand, and yes we will start to sink.  But we know that is not the end of the story.

What of Jesus part in all of this?  We are not told how long it took for Peter to get out of the boat.  For all we know it took several minutes or maybe a half hour or more for Peter to gain the courage needed to take that first step.  Jesus stood there and waited.  He was standing there encouraging Peter as a father would encourage a child who is waiting to jump into the pool or take their first step.  He stood there with his arms outstretched waiting to receive Peter into them and keep him from this storm.  And when Peter started to sink, he did not abandon him, as this world will do when we start to sink, no Jesus, the Savior, reached out his sacred and holy hands and raised Peter from the water.  The same hands that cured the blind man that healed the lepers, that raised his friend Lazarus from the dead, lifted Peter and all of his doubts and worries up out of that water and to safety.  He did not poke fun at him or leave him to swim back to the boat by himself, no Jesus lifted Peter out of the water and brought him to a safe place which is exactly what He will do for us.

Each time we stumble, each time we fall, each time we sin, Jesus is right there to pick us up and lead us to safety.  He is never more than an arm’s length away, and if we call upon Him he will be there to help us.  But we have to take that first step.

It has been said that a journey of a million miles begins with the first step, and that is so true in our spiritual life.  We have to be willing to take the steps that are required to begin our spiritual journey.  Maybe we are taking those steps today for the first time, maybe we have taken them before, and we need to take them again.  The key thing is that we take that first step, we keep our eye fixed on Christ, and we reach for him and for His saving arms.  If we do that He will never let us down, and it will be the journey of a lifetime.



  1. i think most people tend to forget that alot of fishermen,back then,could not swim..had to watch out for those sea monsters ,you know

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