Risk and Failure

by Greg Laurie on May 21, 2024
Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home.
—Matthew 14:22

Have you ever attempted something in life that met with failure? All too often we beat ourselves up when we fail because we didn’t come up with the greatest success of all time.

In chapter 14 of Matthew’s Gospel, we find the story of a failure, a spectacular failure, in fact. Trouble was brewing. The people wanted to make Jesus king by force. So Jesus effectively said to the disciples, “Okay, guys, get in the boat. You’re out of here.”

Jesus knew this would destroy them because, on more than one occasion, the disciples argued about who would be greatest in the kingdom. They expected to go from being ostracized to being men of great influence. And it would have destroyed them.

Thus, for their own protection, Jesus had to get them out of there as soon as possible. He sent the disciples across the lake and sent the people home. Then He went away by Himself to pray.

Meanwhile, a storm was brewing. Did Jesus know that a storm was on the way? Yes. But He who allowed the storm would be there with them. And, as the terrified disciples strained against the storm, Jesus showed up, walking on the water. They thought it was a ghost, but Jesus told them, “Don’t be afraid. . . . Take courage. I am here!” (verse 27 NLT).

Peter was so moved by this that he wanted to prove his courage to Jesus. He said, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water” (verse 28 NLT). Peter was willing to put it all on the line.

He was looking at Jesus, and that gave him confidence and courage. Let’s also notice that Peter didn’t do this presumptuously. He didn’t say, “Lord, I’m coming! Hang on!” Instead, he asked Jesus for permission.

Maybe Jesus smiled at this point. We don’t know for certain. But He said to Peter, “Yes, come” (verse 29 NLT).

We do know that Peter took a few steps because Matthew goes on to say, “Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus” (verse 29 NLT). Now, this is a great moment. Whatever follows cannot undo it. We can find fault with Peter for a number of things, but no one else attempted this.

Now, did Peter sink? Yes. But if you’re going to fail, then this is the way to do it. Peter made his mistakes, but this was impressive. And really, when we look at his shortcomings, we see that most, if not all, seemed to come from a heart that wanted to do the right thing. He just didn’t always go about it in the right way.

We can sit like armchair quarterbacks and critique people who attempt things for God. But what have we done lately? Have we taken a risk for the kingdom of God? Have we taken a step of faith? It would be better to try and fail than to sit around and do nothing. Peter was doing his part. And so should we.

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