The disciples were being tested and challenged in their faith…Jesus was no longer at their side instructing them, and they were now being forced to depend on what they had learned . Even though Jesus had told them to,” stay in Jerusalem and wait for the gift My Father promised.” (Acts 1:4) Simon Peter reverted back to what he knew and felt confident and comfortable in…fishing. We always need to be careful when we go back to things of the past. And we need to be ever questioning our motives for it. Is it out of laziness, or insecurity, or consolation that we revert back to past things? One of my very favorite quotes from Oswald Chambers in his Devotional book, My Utmost for His Highest is, “Beware of paying attention or going back to what you once were, when God wants you to be something that you have never been.”
The disciples thought Jesus was confused and making a mistake for wanting to go back to a place where He had almost been killed. But where they were coming from was a very incorrect and sorely limited understanding, perception, and interpretation of just who Jesus was and what He could do. Psalm 18:30 tells us that, “As for God, His way is perfect.” Nothing that God has done or will ever do is a miscalculation or blunder. His Will in your life is faultless, flawless, and correct in every detail…and His timing is always perfect.
Jesus had just told the Disciples that where He was going, they could not follow at that time. But impulsive Peter didn’t want to wait. Waiting on the Lord can be maddening at times. We think we know what to do…and so impatiently we attempt to steer the ship in that direction…only to do more harm than good. When God says, “Not now,” we need to be able to rest in it, knowing that His timing is perfect. And while we wait…we should strive to find delight in the delay and praise in the postponement…for it’s a chance to learn firsthand what patience and perseverance are all about.
For Simon Peter, he had come full circle from that first encounter with Jesus on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. He and his brother, Andrew, were fishing when this stranger approached them and declared, “Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) Now three years later, following Jesus’ death and resurrection and Peter’s denial of Him…Peter has been restored and re-commissioned. “Follow Me,” is fellowship of faith and life with our Savior…it’s both inner fellowship of trust and confidence, and outer fellowship of becoming more like Him daily. “Follow Me,” ultimately means counting the cost and determining it’s all worth it.
It was Roman custom to have the condemned person carry the cross on which he was to suffer through the streets as a means of spectacle, humiliation, and as a deterrent for others. But Jesus is calling us to follow Him…to purposely take up and bear that figure of shame. For on that cross our sins were brutally nailed…on that cross our redemption was sealed in blood. To the Romans, the cross was a symbol of shame…but to Believers, it’s a symbol of salvation.
The crowds were getting larger and larger that followed Jesus and His disciples. In these verses, many have crammed themselves into a private home to hear Jesus teach. No wonder Jesus’ family sent word into the house they were outside wanting to see Him…there was no way they could get into the packed house! When Jesus asked this question, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” He wasn’t showing disrespect, but rather saw it as a teachable moment. The story goes on in verses 34-35, ” Then He looked at those seated in a circle around Him and said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers! Whoever does God’s Will is My brother and sister and mother.” Jesus wanted the crowd huddled around Him to see that they were just as highly regarded to Him as part of “The Family of God” as His own kin were.
In these scriptures we see the story of Jesus walking on the water and the disciples initial reaction. The disciples had been rowing for hours…fighting the rising winds and rough water. They were exhausted. With heads down, they were battling to just keep moving forward. So when Jesus approached the boat, fatigue and stress blinded them to be able to even recognize Jesus…irrationally, they imagined that it was a ghost rising from the waves. The same thing will happen to us when we fight the storms of life alone. Heads down, we power through, battling to keep moving ahead, but becoming more and more drained. It’s then that the combination of stress, anxiety, and exhaustion often leads to unfounded fears that overtake us. It’s also at that time, we suddenly come to the end of ourselves and finally cry out, “Lord, I can’t do this!”