In The Nick of Time

There is a familiar story in Matthew 14:22-36. It’s the story of Jesus walking on the water, but that’s not the main point of what was happening here. Previously to this event, Jesus fed thousands of people with only five loaves of bread and two fish. The people ate until they were full, at which time the disciples gathered the left-overs — 12 baskets — one for each disciple to carry. Do you think that was a faith building lesson for them? Even so, another coaching period was about to come.

The Scriptures tell us that it was evening when Jesus sent the disciples to their boat. He said he would send the people home and come to them later. During Bible times there was a reference of time called the night watches. These watches took place between 6:00pm and 6:00am. There were four watches in three hour increments. So, the first watch was at 6:00pm, the second at 9:00pm, the third at 12:00pm and the last watch was at 3:00am.

The Scriptures indicate that as Jesus, about 6:00pm was sending the people home, the disciples were in their boat, “far away from land and fighting heavy waves,” (vs.24-25). Now comes the really interesting part. Jesus came on the fourth watch. He came at 3:00am. What? The disciples had been battling a storm for nine hours before Jesus decides to show up? Then, what happens?

Instead of stopping the storm right then and there, He tells Peter to walk on the water towards Him — and Peter does that very thing. For several moments Peter is actually walking on the water! Then, instead of maintaining focus on Jesus, Peter glances around, sees the waves, feels the pelting of the rain on his skin and the whipping wind in his face, and he begins to sink in fear, but he does the exact right thing in his difficulty. He cries out to Jesus to save him. Jesus responds to his call by grabbing hold of Peter. Together they get back in the boat. Then Jesus asks that well known question, “You have so little faith, why did you doubt me?”

We argue in defense of Peter, saying, but he walked on water! He did display faith! Was Jesus being harsh here? Unfair? After all, Jesus waited nine hours before coming to their aid, in the first place. Why is it, that so often in our own lives, we meet turmoil and despair head on, and wonder, why isn’t Jesus here? Why isn’t He helping us?

In actuality, Jesus is showing great love in His delays. He designs our molding into His image, making us stronger, more courageous, filled with His own peace, the kind He had when the Scriptures tell us of another storm when Jesus calmly slept through the whole thing! Jesus knows that faith does not grow strong on the calm waters of life. It grows in the storm. Fatih strengthens when our eyes remain on Him no matter the winds of destress and waves of pain around us.

He is always there. He is always listening. He is always watching over. He is always teaching us, molding us. He is always right on time — even when it’s in the nick of time.

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