Do Not Be Afraid - Matthew 14:22-32

The following article is an excerpt from "A Book of Bible Study"

by Joseph F. Harwood.


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There will be things that happen in our lives that we cannot face in our own strength, because our own strength is wholly inadequate for such overwhelming circumstances. In these times we are instructed to cast all of our cares upon the Lord, because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). We are to set our hope of deliverance upon the Lord our God, and we are not to rely upon ourselves, or our own strengths and resources. We are to anchor our hearts on the steadfast certainty of every promise for believers as they are set forth in God’s word. Just as God delivered Paul from trouble that was far beyond his ability to endure (2 Corinthians 1:8-11), so we also are to look to God for His help and His deliverance from the overwhelming troubles that we are facing. 


When we read accounts of God’s deliverance of His people as recorded in the Scriptures, let us once again recall what Paul taught in the book of Romans: “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4). All of the accounts of God’s deliverance in the Scriptures are recorded for the benefit and encouragement of all of us as God’s people.


Our Sovereign God’s deliverance for our situation, as hopeless as it appears and as far beyond our ability to endure as it may be, is surely coming for us. And while we are in the midst of these troubles, we have His promises given to us through His word, where He has assured us that He will help us, strengthen us, and sustain us (Isaiah 41:8-10). 


In Matthew 14:22-32 we read of the time when Peter left the safety of the boat to come to Jesus on the water. After Jesus had fed the five thousand, He sent the disciples ahead of Him by boat to cross over to the other side. Jesus then dismissed the crowds, and He was still there on land when evening came. 


By this time the disciples were already some distance away from land. Jesus later came to them walking on the water during the fourth watch of the night, or sometime between three and six in the morning. When the disciples saw Him approaching the boat, they were afraid, thinking they were seeing a ghost. At this point Jesus called out to them saying: “…“Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” (Matthew 14:27). 


Peter then replied to Jesus, saying that if it really was Him, then command him to come to Him on the water. Jesus then told Peter to come to Him, and Peter got out of the boat and walked toward Jesus on the water. But when he saw the wind and the waves around him, he became afraid and began to sink, and he cried out to Jesus to save him.


Jesus then immediately reached out His hand and caught Peter before he went under the waves and perished, and He said to him: “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31). When they got back into the boat, the winds and waves subsided. Having witnessed these events, those who were in the boat worshipped Jesus and acknowledged that indeed He was the Son of God. 


Every account of events in the lives of God’s people that is recorded in the Bible is recorded for our benefit and instruction. This experience of Peter’s is both symbolic and characteristic of experiences that we as believers will have during the course of our own lives. With the winds of our own turbulent circumstances buffeting us, we too will become afraid, even though we have our Savior and His word in sight of us.


In such times we may feel ourselves sinking in fear of the difficulties that confront us. Just when we think that we will drown in the midst of our troubles, we cry out to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, “Lord, save me!”, and He reaches out His hand to rescue us and sustain us, proving the trustworthiness of the promises given to us in the Scriptures. 


The day will also come when the arm of the Lord that rescues us will deliver us into His eternal kingdom, where we will forever be free of anything that threatens or causes grief. Jesus Christ, the living Word of God, is the One who is called “Faithful and True” (John 1:1, 14, Revelation 19:11-13). Every promise that God has given to us through His word is completely trustworthy, faithful, and true, and may be relied upon fully. 


During the storms of our lives when the winds of adversity buffet us and we become afraid, Jesus calls to us saying: “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” Therefore let us take courage, and let us not doubt when God’s word tells us that everything He allows to touch our lives is working together for our eternal good and glory (Romans 8:28).


Whether our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ reaches out His hand to sustain us through our present troubles in life, or whether He reaches out His hand to take us home to glory, deliverance for all who believe on His name is assured. David encouraged us when he wrote in the Psalms: 


To You they cried out and were delivered;
In You they trusted and were not disappointed. (Psalm 22:5)


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