Scriptural Gem for October 2012


In Matthew 14: 28 - 31 where Jesus walks on the water we read: "...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?”

Let us turn our attention to Jesus' words to Peter as he begins to sink: "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" The first part in the original Greek reads "Why did you not believe me?" as if Jesus wants to say: "You asked for my command and I gave it. Did you not believe me?". In the second part of the statement Jesus uses the word 'doubt'. Many people think this simply means that Peter did not have 'enough faith' in the fact that he could walk on the water but then we might as well say that Peter just did not exercise enough 'positive thinking' about his ability to walk on the water. However, that would be shallow and thoroughly unscriptural thinking. Let us rather turn to the original Greek text.

There are five different words in the original Greek translated in English as 'doubt'. One of them is 'Diakrino'. Another is 'Distazo'. 'Diakrino' as used in James 1:5-8 means 'Not to have yet made your mind up about something'. That is not the word Jesus uses here in Matthew 14. Instead He uses 'Distazo'. This word is made up of two parts: 'Di' which means 'two' or 'double' and 'Stasis' which means 'position'. Thus the word means 'to take two positions or be in two places at the same time'. So, Jesus is saying to Peter: "Why are you trying to be in two places at the same time?" This sheds a great deal more light on the passage than just the English word 'doubt'. Peter is convinced that it is Jesus walking on the water toward them. He even has the sense to know that he needs Jesus to command him before he would be able to walk on the water. He even gets out of the boat and starts walking on the water! So why does he become fearful and begin to sink? Jesus speaks the word 'Distazo'. Peter is caught between the material reality and the very different reality, a spiritual reality in which Jesus is. The spiritual reality clearly overcomes and surpasses the material reality as we can see from Jesus walking on the water. How often have we been overcome by the material reality of this world and sunk back into it just like Peter? This material reality is but a shadow of the real, the spiritual reality. To which one are you bound dear friend? O Lord, please break into our material reality with your real, spiritual reality. We want to be with you where you are. We do not want to be 'Distazo'. Amen