Matthew 14:31 – Why doubt
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone,
and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.
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.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he 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?”
Peter walked on the waves, looked around, and became afraid.
That is why Jesus asked Peter: Why did you doubt?
This why is the translation of two words.
The Greek says: Eis tis … did you doubt.
- eis – to be translated as: to, in, to-in, towards, before, under.
- tis – to be translated as: who, which, what.
This little word ‘eis’ is found, among other places, in texts which refer to believing in Jesus, such as:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever,
- believes (trusts: pisteuoo) in (eis) him (autos),
- shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
It is very possible, therefore, that Jesus said: Peter, in whom did you doubt.
This: in whom did you doubt is in contrast met in whom do you believe or, in whom do you trust?
With the question: “Why did you doubt?” Peter would be thrown back upon himself and he was only able to see that he was sinking in the waves.
The question ‘Why?’ makes someone doubt himself. This begs the question: “What did I do wrong”, “Do I actually have faith”, or “What do I need to do to get greater faith”?
When Jesus said: “In whom did you doubt”, He drew Peter’s attention to Himself. If Peter had kept his eyes on Jesus, he would have noticed that Jesus was standing on the waves, then he would have realised that Jesus would never have said: “Come”, if He was not going to make sure that Peter himself would also be able to walk on the waves, which he really did, at first.
Jesus is to be trusted fully when He says:
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (John 8:12)
I am the way and the truth and the life. (John 14:6)
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. … Do not let your hearts be troubled (dismayed, shocked, confused, panic) and do not be afraid (frightened). (John 14:27)
My yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:30)
I have come that they (those who follow me) may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)
When Jesus gives an order, or asks something of someone, He will also ensure that it is possible to complete this task.
He never asks anyone too much.
It is perhaps not always an easy way.
One must sometimes dare to walk on the waves in order to complete a difficult task.
Whoever keeps his eyes on Jesus,
- Keeps trusting in Whom Jesus is
- and does not doubt as a result of circumstances or the world around him, will experience Jesus lifting him above the apparent impossibilities.
See also the study: Hebrews 11:1 - The assurance.
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Matthew 14.31 - Why doubt.