Matthew 14  - Waves

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Matthew 14 - Waves

Matthew 14: 24-33


Hebrew word for wave is “Gahl”

This message is about how life comes in waves in terms of good and bad issues in life. They are repetitive and don’t cease and this is one of my favourite verses about Christ saving us.

The other reason I enjoy this verse is it talks about the sea and I love the sea, due mainly to my holidays spent in Peel in the Isle of Man in my school holidays.


What is it about?

As the scripture talks about waves let’s start with a definition of a Wave with a definition from Wikipedia. The winds cause waves on the surface of the ocean (and on lakes). The wind transfers some of its energy to the water, through friction between the air molecules and the water molecules. Stronger winds (like storm surges) cause larger waves.

Where our verse is set is the Sea of Galilee known for its sudden storms and I believe there are many symbolisms and metaphors in this verse as relating to faith and problems in life and how we overcome them by clinging onto Christ.


Symbolism 1 - Distractions

In verse 30 there is a reference to “He saw the wind” where Peter was distracted, and this is defined as “a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else”

In this case it was Peter taking his eyes off his Lord Jesus as he saw the sea, the waves and felt the wind and became afraid like we do in life when we see problems and panic. We need to stop and give your problem to God and this is a sign of faith as Peter in a sense did this as he called to his saviour. And he looked back at his saviour, his eyes were now focused on Christ. Matthew Henry best explains it  ;“When we look off from Christ, and look at the greatness of opposing difficulties, we shall begin to fall; but when we call to him, he will stretch out his arm, and save us”.


Symbolism 2 - Peter Reaching out with Faith

One of my favourite bible verses is in;

Proverbs 3:5““Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding””


If we put this in reference to Peter it can be seen he was a misunderstood character as it took great faith to step out of the boat. He wasn’t actually sure who it was  as he says “since it’s you” /“I know it is you” and Peter was a fisherman and would have known the dangers of the sea of Galilee, caught up in the net or simply drowning through falling in and drifting away from your boat as there were no lifejackets in biblical times.

The issue here was Faith and Peter had little and little faith was often a rebuke for the disciples as in;

Matthew 6:30 - Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?


Jesus himself spoke of faith and what it could achieve in;

Matthew 17:20(CJB)“Yeshua said to them, “Because of your unbelief, for amen, I say to you, that if you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you may say to this mountain, 'Move from here', and it will move, and nothing will be difficult for you”.


Symbolism 3. Problems in life come in waves

If we return to the analogy of waves then we can see they are similar to the repetitiveness of problems occurring in succession and like the tide, they are constant and never ending  as we sometimes in life think about and worry what next calamity is about to unfold in our lives. David used it to explain those issues which roll smoothly like wheels i.e. incessantly in

Psalm 42:7 - Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.


We also get overwhelmed with serious problems stated in the verse as “gone over me “. From experience, when swimming you can easily get into difficulty and can be put into danger. David talks about it in Samuel;

2 Samuel 22:5 When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly men made me afraid


David here was talking about in this chapter about God saving him from Saul and his enemies.  He had many enemies and like being enveloped by successive waves, trying to catch your breath another comes along as with his son Absalom.

Absalom was David’s son wanted to kill his own Father but didn’t succeed as God had the victory and delivered David from his enemies.

Life of a Christian will be like this and it is  not easy and we have floods of good and bad moments in life and the repetitions will be tiring but we have to remember it will only be for a while, like a rough sea journey and the illness you feel whilst going through it. The point is the waves will one day stop when we go to be with our Lord and from my life, it is  only when you look back you realise why there was a wave at a point in your life. I look at my own family and I see how God used bad situations and trials and temptations have been used to glorify him and sometimes to bow the knee , but most of all he does it because ..

James 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.


Hence the reward is, we are promised the crown of life of eternal life.


Symbolism 4 - Doubt

When we think about faith in this scripture, the word doubt comes into mind as Peter did with the offer by Jesus of walking on the water. The definition of “doubt” is a status between belief and disbelief, involves uncertainty or distrust or lack of sureness of an alleged fact, an action, a motive, or a decision.

The question can be asked, why did Peter question if it was Jesus? It is not clear, but in response to re-assure Peter as he was tired, and it was dark, and he needed a miracle to re-assure that it was Jesus. Jesus immediately stretched out his hand and saw Peter was out of his depth and he knew that he was sinking physically as well as spiritually.

If we think our own lives we can ask the same questions and in relation we know Jesus hadn’t let Peter down in the past, he never lets us down but it is useful for us to confront our doubts because this can lead to fears.

The main text relating to this fear is by Paul in;

2 Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.


Fear can sometimes make us act irrationally and not look to Jesus and from the above verse it is not from God , we are all scared of certain things that why we have psychologists who make millions of curing phobias. Again, the Psalms explain fear;

Psalm 34:4 I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.


Symbolism 5. Jesus calms the waves

One of the Antonyms (i.e. the opposite) of waves is calm and Jesus is the opposite here to the storms and the waves and the elements in chaos. To me these verses show us Jesus was like his Father and had control over the waves as he was God as in;

Psalm 77:16 The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee; they were afraid: the depths also were troubled


Luke talks about a similar incident to our main text and highlights him as a soother and peace giver;

Luke 8:24 - Then he arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm.


David spoke of similar in the Psalms as maybe a prophecy of the Lord Jesus on the Sea of Galilee;

Psalm 89:9 - Thou rulest the raging of the sea: when the waves thereof arise, thou stillest them


If Christ can control the waves, he can control the waves in our life, he is almighty and he is God


Christ our anchor

Returning to the sea analogy, if we don’t have faith in Jesus then we are moved by any wind or problem in life that hits us;

James 1:6 – (CJB) But let him ask in trust, doubting nothing; for the doubter is like a wave in the sea being tossed and driven by the wind.


The word here is doubt or wavereth in the KJV and this text, the doubt is like when boats are left unmoored and without an anchor and they are smashed against the rocks.

An anchor is “Pre used to connect a vessel to the bed of a body of water to prevent the craft from drifting due to wind or current.” Similar to this, we are the vessel and Christ is our anchor to God the Father.

The best verse is from Hebrews to illustrate anchors is;

Hebrews 6:19 - Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;

If we don’t have the anchor of Christ in our lives, then we have doubt like the biblical character of Thomas in John 20 v 24-29. I like this verse to show that even when you do doubt in life, Jesus allows you to, as with Thomas he allowed him to touch his scars. It is similar to Gideon, asking for proof where God answered and complied. I believe doubting forces you to check your understanding and God does not punish you for doubting and I believe that is one of the fundamentals of this scripture. I think when you give up questioning, that is when you have problems.


Jesus our lighthouse

One of the other areas where waves can take us into unknown situations is where we need a guide i.e. where Jesus shows us the path in the midst of rough seas of life. In times of old Boats which in storms would be smashed up onto the rocks. Lighthouses were invented for this very reason, to stop boats being grounded and to keep ships away from hazards

Who is our lighthouse? Jesus guides us through dangers and guides our paths, navigating us through life’s storms and we know this by;

John 8:12 - Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.



There are various stages at where you are in terms of dealing with life problems or where you are in your walk with the Lord i.e.

When you take your eyes off Jesus

Peter took his eyes off the Lord and in that split second, he lost his focus. I think he saw the enormity of the waves and he looked at his situation with human eyes.  As soon as you take your eyes off the Lord there is satan is watching you like a lion, waiting for you to go off track like ships that don’t see the lighthouse. It shows faith is only in its present tense and it does not aggregate and accumulate, that is why we need to fix our eyes back on him. We can’t see Jesus in the real sense like Peter could but there is another verse which reassures us;

2 Corinthians 4:18 - While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal


When your sinking, look to him

David talked about sinking in Psalm 40 with reference to a pit with miry clay……

Psalm 40:2 He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings


The pit and the rock some writers believe are messianic prophecy as Jesus faced the wrath of God and was in the pit when he asked his Father why he had forsaken him. Some commentators see the rock as representing heaven when he passed from life into death and sat at his Father’s right hand. Everything we put our faith and trust in i.e. money, relationships, material things, is “Sinking sand” as with the Wise man who built his house upon the rock, we should ask God to set your foot on rock and steady you, and tell him your sinking. One of my favourite Psalms is Psalm 62 and clinging to the rock as in;

Psalm 62:7 In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God


When you are being smashed about on the rocks, when pressures of life are getting to you, when you feel bashed, cling to your Lord Jesus and pray and seek his face by praying and reading his word and ask him for his guidance.


When you are drowning 

Who has ever nearly drowned? After swimming one morning I swam too far out and later panicking, I realised the water was only 3-foot-deep and I could easily stand up in it and was within easy reach of my feet. Which is like our Lord Jesus always is within reach and he always is there for us to rest on.

In this chapter, there was no hesitation when Peter cried out to Christ and his foot started to sink, was the sign that Christ had to show him he was there for him.

Matthew 11:28 - Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.


Christ will uphold you and he will keep your head above water, even though you may not feel like he is, he is.


Final thoughts

God created you, he became man for you, and he took your place on the cross. All God wants is for you to tell him your eyes have strayed, or you are sinking or even drowning.

As God our Father all he wants is to communicate with you because you are his creation.

Jesus expects us as believers, to follow him and sometimes that might mean as with Peter in the middle of a sea or somewhere else;

John 12:26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.

And remember one thing through all difficulties in life “set your eyes upon Jesus and not on the storm”