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." (Matt. 14:22-27)
Why should they 'take courage'?
The phrase, "take courage" is being translated from the Greek word θαρσέω (tharseō). This word means "to be of good cheer" as well as "to be of good courage" according to the lexicon.
This term relates to facing an adversity. To be of good courage or good cheer in the face of something that is tenuous or dangerous means not only facing that adversity, but rising above it.
In this case, the adversity was the boat being tossed, but also Jesus walking on the water next to the boat. Such a sight (seeing Jesus walking on the water) was frightening the disciples. So he asked them to rise above their fear.
How could they rise above their fear?Jesus’ statement indicates that he wants his disciples to rise above their fear by trusting him and trusting the Supreme Being.
Jesus is asking for trust because trust is the key to faith. This is the central foundation for building a relationship of love.
Consider this in our family or personal lives. Could we have faith in someone we didn’t trust?
While many in organized religion focus on faith as trusting that God exists, or that Jesus died for their sins, real faith means trusting that the Supreme Being is someone we can love and serve: and take shelter of.
In other words, we can trust that the Supreme Being is our Best Friend.
What was the purpose of Jesus walking on water?
Why did Jesus walk out to them on the water surface? Was he trying to show them how great he was?
This is the takeaway that many teach: That Jesus is proving that he was incredible.
However, that is a short-sighted motive. Such a motive makes Jesus seem egotistical - that he was trying to prove himself to others, and show how great he was.
Actually, this wasn't the purpose of Jesus walking out on the water. The purpose was to teach his disciples to trust him and to trust in the Supreme Being.
This is because Jesus is teaching about Someone (the Supreme Being) they could not see with their physical eyes.
Should we trust in God?This is the critical point about coming to know and love the Supreme Being. We can certainly love someone without trusting them. But to exchange a loving relationship, we need to have trust in the person we love.
Because we rejected our relationship with the Supreme Being at some point in our past, He escorted us to a place - the physical world - where we didn’t have to see Him anymore.
This is the physical world. We were given these temporary physical bodies and this temporary physical world in order to be virtually away from the Supreme Being.
Just as an automobile allows a person to become separated from contact with nature - as we drive on asphalt in a vehicle made of steel and plastic - this physical body separates us from our spiritual selves and our connection with the Supreme Being. These physical eyes aren't able to see the Supreme Being and this physical mind cannot perceive the Supreme Being for a reason: They were designed to shield us from the Supreme Being.
The Supreme Being is spiritual, and each of us is a spiritual living being. We are eternal, while this physical body is temporary. This is why we struggle so much to survive - because we are eternal by nature.
Out of love, God still wants us back. But only if we choose to return to Him. Because love requires freedom, only we can make that choice to return to our loving service relationship with Him.
He does not make this process easy and for good reason. We can use a modern-day example:
Consider what would happen if a person abused their spouse and got kicked out of the house, but then got accepted back in just because they said "sorry." This would make it easy for them to abuse their spouse again because there was little in the way of consequence for the last time they did it. This is often referred to as enabling. If a person allows someone to abuse them or abuse themselves with no consequences, then that person is enabling the abuse. They are not doing anything to remedy the issue.
This is not so different from our situation, because we have abused our original relationship with the Supreme Being. We have turned on our Best Friend and Loving Advocate.
God is perfect. He thus has set up the perfect consequential environment - the physical world. The physical world has all the mechanisms that guide us and teach us; allowing us the ability to make good choices and gradually become healed.
This gradual improvement is what evolution is all about. As our spirit evolves, we are taught various lessons regarding relationships, care and love. We are repeatedly taught that caring for others and helping others makes us happy. We are taught that self-centeredness and greed stimulate anger, frustration, and competition - which harbor emptiness. As we evolve through the various lessons this physical world delivers, we finally arrive at the opportunity to renew our relationship with the Supreme Being.
How can we have a relationship with God?Coming to know God means being introduced. This is why Jesus came to the earth. Jesus had a relationship with God and he introduced others to that relationship.
The Supreme Being reaches out to us through His messenger. Why? Because part of the education required is to understand the relationships that exist between the Supreme Being and His children. Who better to introduce this to us than one who is involved in such a relationship?
From there it is our choice. Do we receive God’s messenger’s hand and trust him to introduce us to the Supreme Being? Or do we become attracted by the pomp and circumstance of organized religion or the various temptations of the physical world?
This is Jesus’ lesson here to Peter and his other students in the boat. He wants his students to trust him, so Jesus can introduce them to his loving Master and Father: the Supreme Being - Whom they can trust and rely upon.