“When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”…
But when [Peter] saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
Matthew 14: 26, 27, 30, 31.
Fear. Fear is the obvious answer to Jesus’ question. Matthew, with the aid of hindsight, can now describe the scene in all its ironic detail. Here are a bunch of fisherman, well acquainted with the temper of the Sea of Galilee, sinking.
And the disciples are afraid. At first, afraid of Him. Logic demands that it cannot be their master walking on the water to them, not in His natural body. It must be some spirit sent to add further to their oppression. But the logic only holds if He is merely man. And only frightens if the spirit turns out a far different character from the gentle carpenter from Nazareth.
Peter is afraid too as he steps out of the boat. Afraid that the waves will overwhelm him. But in contrast to all his fear, here stands the Lord Jesus Christ, so much the master of His creation that He treads on the water like so much soft carpet. It could no more sink him that it could become root beer.
But the crisis resolves. It really is the real Jesus, not some dread apparition. And He does command the sea. It will not swallow either the lone disciple or the lonely boat. And so the disciples worship: “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Who is this Jesus?
And how is your fear distorting your view of Him? My greatest fear is what Jesus will turn me into if I follow Him with my whole heart. Will I become an even more banal version of Ned Flanders? Jesus calms my fears as I meet Him personally, know the feel of my hand in His, recognize the goodness in His words even where they are sharp, and hear His wit played out in the most serious mission of all time (I think He enjoyed His time on earth).
What are you afraid of?
Lord, calm my heart and strengthen my faith.