Thursday, July 24, 2014

I was reading in Matthew 14 today. Jesus walks on water is the title of this section. It's a favorite. I have always thought it cool that Peter actually was able to take a few steps on the water. Just like Jesus. He didn't make it far but he tried. I realized that Matthew probably took this story from Mark's gospel. Mark's main source was Peter himself many scholars believe. So if Peter was telling the story why did he leave himself out? Some scholars think that Peter's pride got in the way. But Mark includes other Peter stories that do not show him in a good light, for instance, his denial of being one of Jesus's followers before the crucifixion. Michael Card in his book, Mark: the Gospel of Passion, writes he used to think that, as well. But after spending more time with Peter in the book of Acts and his two letters he changed his mind. Now, he thinks Peter told Mark to leave him out of this story because he walked on water. Humility, Card says, was the reason for Peter's absence from the story, not pride.

Peter did walk on water which is  something not too many people can claim. His walking on water could have been a distraction from what Peter/Mark were teaching. When Matthew tells the story with Peter in it, the focus is more on Peter's failure than his brief success. He is going down when he sticks out his hand and yells for Jesus to save him.

It was Peter's failure more than his success that taught him humility. He took a few steps on water but he was a goner if Jesus did not reach out to him. Littlefaiths is what Jesus calls him and the rest of the disciples. Peter never forgot. Humble yourselves under God's mighty hand and he will lift you up is what Peter wrote in his first letter. He had experienced that.

We are more success oriented that failure oriented. We try to hide our failures and play up our successes. Our resumes do not usually contain a bullet list of our failures. Yet we know we often learn more from failure than success. In this case, Peter made the most of a life long lesson he learned the day he was sinking in the deep. Cast your cares on him because he cares for you.

I'm glad Peter held his water walking out of Mark's gospel story. But, I am glad Matthew included it in his. Mark shows us a lesson in humility and Matthew shows us how Peter learned it.