I love spy movies. Mission Impossible, James Bond, and Jason Bourne are all classic spy movies. And not that you care, but my all time favorite spy movie is a tie between The Man who Knew too Little with Bill Murray and Get Smart with Steve Carrell. My least favorite, ironically given the title, is Spy with Jason Statham. What a horrible movie…
Now that you know that I’m an expert on spy movies, let me give you a piece of advice. Whenever you find yourself watching a spy movie, always remember that not everyone is who they say they are. There is often a code word or a memory shared between two people that lets the other party involved know that who they are talking to is in fact someone they can trust.
But at the end of the day, code word or no code word, the identity of the other party is always brought to light by their actions. And this is exactly what we see happening in one of the most famous stories in the Bible.
In Matthew 14:22-36 Jesus sends His disciples out ahead of Him so that He can be alone and pray. In the middle of the night a storm comes upon the lake and the boat begins to be tossed by the wind. Jesus does what any of us might do and takes a stroll ON THE WATER to go help them out. The disciples are freaked out when they see Him walking on water and understandably so. But Jesus reassures them by saying “Take Courage. I am here.”
And here comes the codeword… In Matthew 14:28 Peter says, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
Hold up… That’s not a very good code word, Peter. There’s no question like “How many people can 2 fish and 5 loaves feed?” Or “If it’s you, what kind of music do I like (ROCK and roll, obviously). Or “Which side of the boat is best for fishing.”
Peter and Jesus have had multiple encounters and memories that would have given Peter more assurance that it was in fact Jesus… But Peter simply says “If it’s you, tell me to come walk on the water.” Kind of a dumb question. If it was a ghost, like they originally thought, all the ghost would have had to say (assuming ghosts can talk) was “Yep… It’s me.” And boom, Peter drowns.
But remember, the identity of the other party is always brought to light by their actions… And when Jesus tells Peter to come, there is really only one way to know for sure that it is Jesus. He had to get out of the boat. He had to take the leap of faith. He had to take a step trusting that it was in fact Jesus. And these moments of faith happen all the time… We get nudges all the time and wonder, “Is this you, God?” Nudges like:
Start the Business.
Reconcile the relationship.
Give them some money.
Quit the job.
Start the program.
Take the mission trip.
The calls to faith are numerous. And while there is some criteria on knowing if a nudge is from God (Conversations with mentors, is the action loving?, what does Scripture say?, and prayer), really the only way to know if it’s from God is to take that first step out of the boat. We have to take the risk trusting that it is Jesus speaking and that He will hold us up and keep us from drowning.
So, Peter, maybe you’re not so dumb. Maybe you were asking the question for a little security. But deep down, perhaps you knew that Jesus’ identity would be made clear by his actions. And sure enough, he held you up and gave you the power to walk on water. And you and everyone around recognized who He was because of your faith…
When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.