Going Over Board

Scripture: Matthew 14:28-33

 28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” 29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. 31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?” 32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.


Peter and David are unfortunate in the sense that their personal sins are recorded for all to see. Would you want the entire world to have access to a written record of your failures. The entire world knows that David had an affair and that it was inspired by lust. I’d be willing to bet that you have managed to keep some things covered. Some people would choose death over having their hidden sins revealed and I may be one of them. We are not talking about hidden sins tonight but we are going to talk about Peter’s impetuous nature which did get him into trouble more than once. This story could be about Peter’s failure, taking his eyes off of Jesus but his failure is eclipsed by his effort. Peter failed but he failed trying. Peter may have failed on this occasion but he did not quit; no he lives to fight another day. Peter was impetuous; he had a tendency to go overboard. I know, I share his genetic flaw. BUT at least Peter exhibited faith, courage and the desire to be closer to Jesus. Tonight, lets turn the tables and focus on the 11 in the boat. Admittedly Peter did get wet but he also got a miracle. Thirty years later, who do you supposed loved this story most. In this story, if I can’t be Jesus, I want to be Peter: at least he tried.


If your answer is fear or lack of faith, I think you hit it on the nail.


[1] Perhaps they were afraid of the elements [wind, waves and water]. Jews by nature are not a seafaring people. They do not like water. It is very possible that some of them were afraid of drowning. The elements can get frightening, especially in a storm but I don’t think this was their greatest fear.

[2] Perhaps they were afraid to fail. Fear of failure is a big reason many make no effort. There are many things that we will not attempt because we are afraid of failing.

Signs of fear of failure: “Are you afraid to fail?”
1. Failing makes you worry about what other people think about you.
2. Failing makes you worry about your ability to pursue the future you desire.
3. Failing makes you worry that people will lose interest in you.
4. Failing makes you worry about how smart or capable you are.
5. Failing makes you worry about disappointing people whose opinion you value.
6. You tend to tell people beforehand that you don’t expect to succeed in order to lower their expectations.
7. Once you fail at something you have trouble imagining what you could have done differently to succeed.
8. You often get last-minute headaches, stomach-ache, or other physical symptoms that prevent you from completing your preparation.
9. You often get distracted by tasks that prevent you from completing your preparation that in hindsight were not as urgent as they seemed at the time.
10. You tend to procrastinate and ‘run out of time’ to complete you preparation adequately.

[3] Perhaps we are afraid of the risk. I think this is very close to the truth. The boat represents the familiar. The eleven are prisoners to their own comfort. They will not step outside their comfort zone. One of the huge problems that we face as we grow older is the temptation to allow comfort to be our god. Comfort becomes more important to us than anything else. We react strongly to anything that threatens our comfort. Have you tried to get Baptist to change seats in the sanctuary? It is like pulling hens teeth. If you think that is hard, try getting them to go visiting. Most Baptist have never been on a mission trip. The problem is not money because these same people go on vacations, even over seas cruise. Practically everyone these days has taken at least one flight so it is not the fear of travel that frightens Baptist, it is the fear of getting out of their comfort zone. You can plan mission trips but you had better not be a slave to your plan because the key to mission work is flexibility. Americans are different. There is no one on earth like Americans. We are always in a hurry and schedules, clocks, calendars are very important to us. We have things called deadlines but in some cultures watches or clocks are not necessary because they don’t go by time. When you take a mission trip, you step out of your world into another world. It is a cultural jump. When you are in Africa, you cannot apply America laws are customs. Our customs mean nothing to them and we are visitors in their country. I was absolutely horrible on my first mission trip. Over the years I have learned to go with the flow. You either become flexible or you get bent out of shape. Long story short, the reason people don’t go on Mission Trips is they have to give up their comfort and that is very important to older people. We want our bed, our toilet, our recliner and our privacy.

[4] Perhaps they were afraid of total surrender. I believe this is huge. I have no question that this is not the number one reason why we live in the boat. Out there on the sea, you have to depend totally on Jesus or you go down. “The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in a man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Christ.” When we hear this quote we think of Dwight L. Moody but the quote belongs to a British preacher named Henry Varley. He befriend Moody in Dublin, Ireland in 1873 and he spoke these words to moody. Moody altered the quote shortening it and simplifying it, “The world has yet to see what God can do  through a man who is wholly consecrated to Christ.” Later in life, Moody went back to England primarily to tell Varley that He intended to be that man. That was his purpose statement to be wholly consecrated to Christ and I suppose that he came as close as any with maybe the exception of one of the apostles. What I am going to say will shock you: I doubt that Moody was that man. I even have my doubts about the apostles. There is something in us that fights total surrender. To complicate matters you can surrender today but tomorrow, you will have to do it all over again. So I guess we get into semantics; what do we mean by ‘wholly’? If it means 24/7/365 then I doubt that anyone has ever been wholly concentrated other than Jesus. What I do not doubt is that Moody made this his goal and a worthy goal it is.

This I say about the fear of surrender:

[1] It is in all of us. I had a well-known successful pastor come and preach a revival for us and during the week I confessed to him my struggles with totally surrendering my life to Christ and I told him that I admired him for being totally surrendered. I’ll never forget what this honest man said to me, “Jack, actually I struggle with total surrender myself: there are times when I feel like I am and other times when I’m not. I think we all struggle with this issue.” So let me say first that I think he is right, it is a common struggle.

[2] As we grow and mature we develop a greater trust in the LORD and it becomes easier to give in, give up and give over. The fight seems to be leaving me. I don’t have the will to resist. I know God’s way is best. History proves Him right and me wrong. I’ve made so many selfish decisions that have cost me dearly; why should I trust my judgment over His? If He says “Come” I am with Peter, I’m going over board. Yes, I may get wet; most likely I will get wet. I may even go down and appear to be drowning but I don’t fear drowning anymore. Jesus was not going to let Peter drown. He did let him fail. He did let him get scared and wet but he was never endanger of drowning. We will never surrender our will to someone we don’t trust. If you trust Him and love Him, it really makes it easier to go over board.

[3] A big part of the problem is we are afraid of people making fun of us if we fail. What do the others in the boat think?  I’ve been made fun of all my life, its just for different things. When I was a little kid, I had an aunt and uncle who made fun of me for not keeping my nose clean and my britches zipped.  That’s why I have made it a rule not to mock and make fun of children. In high school they made fun of me for not combing my hair and other things like the old dodge truck I drove with cardboard and duct tape in the shotgun window. I don’t remember anyone mocking me in college but I’m sure it happened and then I entered the ministry which speaks for itself. So who cares what people think. So I am impetuous, so what? Yes, I have made a ton of mistakes, so what? Yes, I have gotten wet on more than one occasion. There have even been times when I thought I was drowning. Those guys may have laughed at Peter but I doubt if he cared. The one person he wanted to please was walking on the sea and he wanted to be near Him. Go overboard for Pete’s sake, the closer you get to Jesus the less you hear from those in the boat.

So, your basic decision is: who do I want to please, Jesus out on the deep or the eleven in the boat? I have learned that if I don’t please Jesus, I am very unhappy with myself. I have also learned that you will never please the boat people. Luke 6:26 should be my life verse, Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.” I got this one covered, all men do not speak well of me. I just hope it is for Jesus sake that they don’t.

Jesus Saves


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