“Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.’”
“And Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’” (Matthew 14.22-33)
After Jesus rescued Peter, the two of them climbed into the boat and the wind died down. That was impressive in itself. A similar effect had caused the disciples to react with awe on an earlier occasion when Jesus calmed a storm (Matthew 8.23–27). But this is not the climax of the story in Matthew 14. The climax here is not the stilling of the waves or even Jesus’ earlier words to Peter: “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” The climax is the disciples’ confession of faith in Jesus and their worship of Jesus in verse 33: “And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’”
This is the first time Jesus is called the Son of God by the disciples, and the words build on what they had said earlier. In chapter 8 they had asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him” (v.27). Here they say, “Truly you are the Son of God.” They still have a long way to go. If Peter’s confession in chapter 16 is the all-important breakthrough in the disciples’ spiritual understanding, what they say here could not have had its full spiritual significance. Still, it was a step on the way. They were growing in their faith and understanding.
And let’s not forget their worship. This is also the first time the disciples are said to have worshiped Jesus. In chapter 2 the Magi from the East worshiped Jesus (v.11). Later a leper is said to have worshiped Jesus, though the New International Version translates the word merely as “knelt before him” (Matthew 8.2). A synagogue ruler does the same thing in chapter 9 (v.18). But this is the first time the disciples worshiped, and it is important to notice that their worship in 14.33 is joined to their confession. That is what worship is, of course! It is acknowledging who God is and praising Him both for who He is and for what He has done. In this case the disciples took the first step and worshiped Jesus as God’s Son.
I notice too that they focused on Jesus entirely in their worship. Peter had experienced a great deliverance, but they didn’t ask Peter to give his testimony. The wind had died down, but they didn’t hold a discussion about miracles. They worshiped Jesus, and they worshiped only Him because they were entirely taken up with Him.
Meanwhile, the work that Jesus had begun months before continued as He now moved into the region of Gennesaret and healed those who were sick. Apparently, Jesus had not been here before, because the people did not know Him by face. But when they recognized that this traveling teacher was Jesus, they brought their sick friends and relatives to Him to be healed.
These people knew of his reputation, and one of the things they had probably heard was that the woman with uncontrolled bleeding had been healed merely by touching the edge of his garment (Matthew 9.20–22). This is what they did too. The text does not say that these masses of people believed on Him, any more than those in the upper regions of Galilee. (Gennesaret was a plain between Tiberias in the south and Capernaum to the north.) They were using Jesus only for their own ends, just as the people who had been fed with the loaves and fish wanted to use Him by making Him a king. Nevertheless, the Lord had compassion on these people and healed them anyway.
If Jesus says, “Come,” then that word is going to accomplish its intended purpose. Since He is the “author and finisher of our faith,” whatever He starts, He completes. We may fail along the way, but in the end, God will succeed.
Jesus has been caring for you, even if you have not committed your life to Him. The friends you have, the health you possess, the possessions you own, the job you work at, even the life you are living are God’s good gifts to you. Do not be like the people of Gennesaret who stopped there, and so perish in your sins. Turn your eyes to Jesus. Trust Jesus. Commit yourself to Jesus. Say, as Peter did, “Lord, save me!” Cry out with the disciples, “Truly you are the Son of God.” That is how a person passes from spiritual death to life.