If You Want To Walk On Water
by Dan Augsburger

Part C

3. Following In Spite of What Others Are Saying

In walking with Jesus, Peter also had to persist in following Jesus regardless of how others were responding. John 6: 66-69

In John 6 we find the people of Jesus’ day struggling with the statements He was making about eating His flesh. In fact, they were struggling so much, that “many of his disciples went back and walked with Him no more.”

Not only did they not walk with him any more, they joined His enemies and started saying and doing what they could to bring His efforts to naught! And they succeeded in turning the popular tide against him.

I think it is good to remember that following Jesus isn’t about popularity and gaining the support of the masses. Not that the people then, or now, were not interested in miracles and answers to prayer, but they couldn’t handle the messy details of his death and the cross-bearing that He was calling them to, so they turned away and did their best to convince others not to walk with Him either.

George Müller, a greatly used man of God who cared for two thousand orphans through prayer alone, supported more than 150 schools around the world, refused to go along with the dispensationalist ideas that were being agitated by the Plymouth Brethren because he couldn’t find them in his Bible and was removed from church membership.

Jesus asked the disciples, “Do you also want to go away?” Peter responded for the twelve, saying, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Do you want to walk with Jesus, you’re going to have to ignore what others are saying and doing at times, and keep your eyes fixed on Jesus.

Transition: Not only did Peter have to heed the call and ignore what others were saying walking with Jesus, he was also going to have to confess Him as Lord.

4. Confessing Christ

In living for Jesus, Peter would be called to confess Christ. Matthew 16: 15-17

The Pharisees and Sadducees were continually seeking to test and trick Jesus into making a blunder that would hinder His efforts and bring Him under their authority. On one occasion they asked Him to give them a sign from heaven proving His being the Messiah, secretly hoping to thereby suggest a earthly source of power for His miracles.

This caused much perplexity for the disciples. What were they to believe?

Some of you are taking your first steps as Christians and there are things you don’t understand either.

Don’t be dissuaded by the attempts of others to talk you out of walking with Jesus in the interest of easing their own consciences. His word is truth. The work He has been doing in your life is true. Keep following. He will keep you, He will teach you, and you will praise Him some day for the way He has led.

It is interesting that at this juncture, Jesus once again asked His disciples what others were saying about Him, and Peter confessed Him as the Christ, the Son of God. Are you struggling? Testify of Christ. Tell your peers about the good things He has been doing. Testifying of the good things he is doing in your life will have a wonderfully positive effect on your life. Therefore, confess Him before men. The more you do, the more you will have to testify before men about.

Do you want to walk with Jesus, then you will need to let God put His testimony in your mouth. I am confident He will give you opportunities to witness.

Transition: Unfortunately, we don’t always understand the way God is working, and sometimes bring mischief on ourselves in trying to do things in our own way.

5. Embracing Dying to Self

In spite of his confessing Christ, Peter soon rebuked Jesus for suggesting that he was going to die on a cross. Peter had forgotten that getting back into the boat also meant dying to self—to use a simpler term, it meant making an entire surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ! Matthew 16: 21-24

It is amazing that within minutes of confessing that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ, Peter began rebuking Him for suggesting He was going to die. Can you imagine yourself rebuking the Lord Jesus? Peter wasn’t shy about expressing his opinion. And, I’m sorry to admit that there have been moments in my life when I haven’t been shy about the same thing either; perhaps you know what I mean.

“Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You.” Matthew 16: 22

Jesus responded by uttering a stern rebuke.

“Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Matthew 16: 23

Peter didn’t understand; neither did He want to understand. Peter and the disciples were still clinging to the idea that Jesus was going to take the throne of David and get rid of the hated Romans; the suggestion that Jesus might die on a Roman cross was absolutely unacceptable!

It was at this time that Jesus first called His disciples to pursue his example in taking up the cross and following Him.

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 16: 24,25

Notice the following about Jesus’ words:

"To the disciples His words, though dimly comprehended, pointed to their submission to the most bitter humiliation,--submission even unto death for the sake of Christ. No more complete self-surrender could the Saviour's words have pictured." Desire of Ages 416

Do you want to walk with Jesus, you must understand that just as taking up the cross was a necessary part of God’s will for His life, so taking up the cross is a necessary part of God’s will for your life.

What does this mean exactly?

Not long ago my Dad passed away. At the end of his life, he was completely dependent on a machine that breathed for him, and on nurses and other medical staff to care for him. Later after his passing, he was borne by others to the funeral home where he was prepared for burial. He was taken to the funeral service, and later taken to the cemetery where he was buried. He had come to a point of complete dependence; granted it was involuntary, but he was completely dependent.

In the days of Jesus, taking up the cross meant only one thing: the man bearing the cross was going to die. Our surrender to whatever Jesus wants should be as complete as the dependence of a dead man to those who carry and bury him. Paul said, I die daily. Are you able to make the same “I die daily” statement in your life?

When we are called to take up the cross, we are called to surrender—die to self—and live in a relationship of complete dependence on God.

I think George Müller best described what it means to die in the following words:

"’There was a day when I died’; and, as he spoke, he bent lower, until he almost touched the floor. Continuing, he added, ‘Died to George Müller, his opinions, preferences, tastes, and will; died to the world, its approval or censure; died to the approval or blame even of my brethren or friends; and since then I have studied only to show myself approved unto God.’”

Do you want to walk with Jesus, I hope you will have the courage to lift the cross and follow. In doing so, you will enable Jesus to work in and through you in ways that would not be possible otherwise.

Remember what Jim Elliot said,

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose."

Transition: I wish I could say that Peter and the disciples understood the need to daily take up and embrace the cross by dying to self, but their unwillingness to die resulted in the disciples initially abandoning Jesus at the time of His arrest, and Peter later denying Him in spite of assertions otherwise.

6. Loved In Spite of Denying Jesus

In walking with Jesus, I am sorry to say there will be times when you will grievously deny your Lord. Peter did, and we read about it in Matthew chapter 26.

It’s interesting that the denial is prefaced by the disciples gathering for the last supper, during which Peter confidently asserts He will never deny His Lord.

Peter had said, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.” Matthew 26: 33

Jesus knew Peter was sincere, but He also knew that Peter hadn’t been watching and praying because of his unwillingness to shoulder the cross, and therefore warned Peter that he would deny his master.

“No,” said Peter, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.” Matthew 26: 35

All the disciples chimed in the with the same thought!

Peter denied his Lord three times just as Jesus predicted, and, meeting the gaze of Jesus and remembering what He had predicted, fled in remorse and shame. Peter thought his days of being greatly used by Jesus had ended, and so did the rest of the disciples. What a fool he had been. At least that’s probably what he was thinking to himself.

And my friends, there are times when we will do foolish things that will make us wonder if God can ever use us again. We don’t trust ourselves, why should God trust us?

What are the dangers when we make mistakes?

1. That we will become discouraged and stop walking with the Lord.

2. That we will minimize our failure and begin to accept what is unacceptable.

I love Psalms 103 where it says:

“As the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy to those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far as he removed our transgressions from us. As a Father pities His children, so the Lord pities His children….His mercy is from everlasting to everlasting to those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to such as keep His covenant and to those who remember his commandments to keep them.” Psalms 103:11,12

How high are the heavens above the earth? That’s how much mercy God has for you and me when we seek His forgiveness. How far is the east from the west, that’s how far he has removed our transgressions from us.

Do you remember the prodigal son?

He blew it. He horribly blew it. Not only had he left the farm, not only had he wasted his money, but he was working in a pig pen—something no self-respecting Jew would ever do. But when he came home the father didn’t wait to give him a shower and clean up before embracing the son. No, the father rushed down the lane, and threw his arms of love around the amazed young men, kissed him, put a robe around his shoulders to hide the ragged results of his mistakes, a ring on his finger to show that he was a full fledged and pardoned member of his family, and shoes on his feet to signify that he had work for him to do.

“When a believer, who has, as he trusts, entered upon the highway of holiness, finds himself surprised into sin, he is tempted either to be utterly discouraged, and to give everything up as lost; or else, in order to preserve the doctrine untouched, he feels it necessary to cover his sin up, calling it infirmity, and refusing to be honest and above-board about it. Either of these courses is equally fatal to any real growth and progress in the life of holiness. The only way is to face the sad fact at once, call the thing by its right name, and discover, if possible, the reason and the remedy…. A sudden failure is no reason for being discouraged and giving up all as lost. Neither is the integrity of our doctrine touched by it. We are not preaching a state, but a walk. The highway of holiness is not a place, but a way…. We may for a moment turn aside from a path, but the path is not obliterated by our wandering, and can be instantly regained. And in this life and walk of faith, there may be momentary failures, which, although very sad and greatly to be deplored, need not, if rightly met, disturb the attitude of the soul as to entire consecration and perfect trust, nor interrupt, for more than the passing moment, its happy communion with its Lord.” Hannah Whitall Smith, Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life

“The great point is an instant return to God. Our sin is no reason for ceasing to trust, but only an unanswerable argument why we must trust more fully than ever. From whatever cause we have been betrayed into failure, it is very certain that there is no remedy to be found for it in discouragement. As well might a child who is learning to walk, lie down in despair when he has fallen, and refuse to take another step; as a believer, who is seeking to learn how to live and walk by faith, give up in despair because of having fallen into sin. The only way in both cases is to get right up and try again.” Hannah Whitall Smith, Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life

Have you denied your Lord? Peter did. We all have. Don’t delay seeking Jesus’ forgiveness for even a moment, for he is waiting to abundantly pardon! Please don’t minimize what has happened either. Ask God to not only forgive, but also to cleanse!

Relationships are Impacted.

I think it is only fair to also say that part of Peter’s struggle was that He wanted to be well thought of by his peers and when push came to shove, he chose to go with people instead of with Jesus, something that happens all the time.

One of the painful things in our walk with Jesus is that it sometimes changes the relationships we have with other people. Sometimes our closest friends think we are crazy; our families wonder what is wrong with us. And we suffer as a result—in some cases it is heartbreaking. But I don’t find any Scriptural admonishment that friends and family come before Jesus.

I have had the same thing happen to me, and it has been really hard at times. But, I’ve seen friendships come back as I have prayed for these friends and God has worked in their lives. I have also seen God bring new friends into my life. It can seem like a lonely pathway. I say this gently, and speak from personal experience, if Jesus was willing to endure the loss, can’t we? I pray we will!

All of this can be very unsettling. But notice the following encouraging words:

“The Saviour has tried for Himself all the experiences through which He asks you to pass; and He would not ask you to pass through them unless He was sure that they were not too difficult for your feet, or too trying for your strength.” F B Meyer,

“You have yet to learn the great lesson of faith. When you surrender yourself entirely to God, when you fall all broken upon Jesus, you will then be rewarded by a victory, the joy of which you have never yet experienced. As you review the past with a clear vision, you will see that at every time when life seemed to you only a perplexity and a burden, Jesus himself was near you, seeking to lead you into the light. Your Father was by your side, bending over you with unutterable love, afflicting you for your good, as the refiner purifies the precious ore. When you have thought yourself forsaken, he was near you to comfort and sustain. We seldom view Jesus as he is, and are never so ready to receive his help as he is to help us…. What a victory you will gain when you learn to follow the opening providences of God with grateful heart and a determination to live with an eye single to his glory, in sickness or health, in abundance or want. Self is alive and quivering at every touch. Yet self must be crucified before you can overcome in the name of Jesus and receive the reward of the faithful.” Testimonies, Vol. 4, p. 220

Transition: Unfortunately, in spite of our desires otherwise, we sometimes sin. Fortunately, God is quick to pardon. And we will often be amazed by the work God gives us to do as a result, which leads to our final point,

7. Making Yourself Available to Him

Finally, if you want to walk with Jesus, you will need to make yourself available for whatever work He has given you—a work for which you have been uniquely prepared through the talents He has given you, and the experiences that He has woven into your life. He did it for Peter, He will do it for you!

Among the first instructions given to the three women who came to Jesus’ tomb following the resurrection, were, “Go, tell his disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him.” Matthew 28: 7

Peter and John were the first men to run to the tomb to ascertain for themselves that He had indeed risen, and marveled at what they found. John 20: 3,4 Shortly later, as recorded in John 21, we find the disciples had taken up fishing again—at Peter’s suggestion, for fishing was still in their blood.

But once again they had fished all night without success. Then a bystander from the shore suggested they cast their net on the “right” side of the boat. Sure enough the nets were soon filled to overflowing and the disciples realized the suggestion could have only come from Jesus. Peter didn’t ask to walk on water this time, he merely plunged over the side into the water and came to shore.

Interestingly enough, Jesus had already fixed them some breakfast which was waiting on a little fire, and invited them to have breakfast after the net was dragged to shore.

I think there is significance that they found great success in following Jesus’ command, and that He had also provided for their hunger. Trusting and obeying Jesus, we will not only find success in His work, we will also find that all of our needs will have been provided for.

It was while breakfasting that Jesus asked Simon Peter,

“Simon, ‘Do you love Me more than these’” making reference to all the fish that had just been dragged to shore.

“Yes Lord, you know I do”

“Then feed my lambs.”

“Simon, do you love Me?”

Peter wasn’t happy with the grilling, and responded, “Yes Lord, you know that I love You.”

“Tend My sheep!”

For a third time Jesus asked, “Simon Peter, do you love Me?”

And again Peter asserted that he did love Jesus.

Then, “Feed My sheep.”

Then Jesus told Peter about the future:

“Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” John 21: 18

Jesus was explaining to Peter that he would also die on a cross.

In the past Peter had remonstrated against any suggestion that Jesus would die on a cross; now he willingly accepted His future without complaint or resistence.

He had finally died to self; he had finally made the utter “take up your cross” level of surrender that he had so resisted in the past. He was willing to obey and follow even if it meant death by way of a cross!

Peter, taking up the cross allowed God to work in and through Him in a manner that had previously been impossible. Note the following:

“Before his fall, Peter was always speaking unadvisedly, from the impulse of the moment. He was always ready to correct others, and to express his mind, before he had a clear comprehension of himself or of what he had to say. But the converted Peter was very different. He retained his former fervor, but the grace of Christ regulated his zeal. He was no longer impetuous, self-confident, and self-exalted, but calm, self-possessed, and teachable. He could then feed the lambs as well as the sheep of Christ's flock.”
Desire of Ages, p. 812

Conclusion and Appeal

Today we have been considering what it means to walk with Jesus.

I have suggested that if you want a “no limit” “walk with Jesus” you are going to need to be willing to get back into the boat with Jesus, and all that is entailed when we speak of getting back into the boat.

Needless to say, by making the right decisions today—by planning your life to please the Lord—will make walking with Jesus infinitely easier. I hope you desire to walk with Jesus. Perhaps you are wondering how your friends will respond? It matters, but it also doesn’t matter. It matters because they mean something to you. It doesn’t matter because Jesus means even more to you!

For now, the thing that matters is what you do with what you have learned today. I pray you will say yes. And remember, this decision is between you and Jesus.

As Jesus and Peter talked, they apparently began ambling away from the rest of the group. Peter, who had just been told how his life would end, noticed John following and asked, “What about him?” What’s going to happen to Him?

Jesus responded—and I paraphrase—"What I do with him doesn’t matter to you, the only thing that matters is how you respond!" (John 21)

And this morning I would repeat the same thing, what God does in your friends’ life is not your concern!

So, here’s my question for you, “Do you want to walk with Jesus? Then be prepared to let Jesus take you by the hand, and walk you back into the boat.

Jesus hopes you will say “yes.”

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