After Jesus fed the five thousand people on the hillside, He went up on the mountain alone. The disciples didn’t know what to do while they waited for Him.
“Well,” Peter said, “I’m going fishing before we head to Capernaum. Anyone else want to come?”
“I will, Peter,” Andrew said.
Eventually, all the rest of the disciples decided to join them.
“But we can’t leave yet, right?” Peter said. He gestured to the crowds of people still lingering despite the fact that Jesus had already left. “We can’t just leave them all here.”
“They came here all alone,” John pointed out. “Why can’t we just leave them all alone? And besides, there’s still about three thousand here.”
Peter hesitated. “Well, we’ll load the boat with the baskets of leftover fish and bread. But I wouldn’t want to leave them. Jesus says to care for your neighbors as you would yourself. He even says to love your enemies. I’m sure He would want us to be considerate over the crowds that came so far to hear Him teach.”
“Very well. They should all be gone by nightfall,” John said.
“Hey,” Peter said, “twelve baskets; twelve of us. It works out great. You’ve got to carry your weight, Judas.” He nudged Judas’ shoulder, then laughed and picked up a basket, carrying it down the hill to their boat.
Each one of the disciples grabbed a basket with leftover pieces of bread and fish and carried it down to their boat, it sinking a bit lower into the water with each basket that was added.
Peter hiked back up the hill and sat down on a rock. “Now,” he said, staring out at the groups of people, “we wait.” Some of the people were getting up and starting to leave, but some looked content to sit on the grassy hillside for hours. The disciples hoped they wouldn’t.
The disciples ended up talking to each other about Jesus. It seemed like the only thing that they could ever talk about. After what they had seen Him do, how could they talk about anything else? It all seemed so meaningless.
Finally, as the sun was setting later that day, the last few people seemed to accept that Jesus wasn’t coming back down from the mountain, got up, and left.
“There,” Peter said. “Now, we can start heading to Capernaum. And besides, the fish bite better at night.” He cast one last look up the mountain where Jesus had gone, then headed down the hill to the boat.
He pushed it off the shore just by a bit, so that they could get off easier once they were all in. Then, holding the bow, he gestured for everyone to get in.
Everyone went, one by one, until only Andrew was left. “I don’t know, Peter,” he said, glancing up at the sky to the north, where the clouds were lit up bright pink. “It looks as though the weather might get bad.”
“Nonsense, Andrew,” Peter said, though he was looking at the clouds rather closely. After a moment he turned back to Andrew. “I’m sure it’s fine,” he said dismissively, though he had to admit, that he was a little bit worried now. The clouds looked dark, thick, and foreboding, laden with rain and probably lightning.
Peter jumped into the boat and grabbed the oar that Andrew was handing him. Then he pushed off the shore and out into the deeper waters of the Sea of Galilee.
The sun fully set behind the horizon and it began to get dark.
“John, get the torches,” Peter said, jerking his head to a pile of them. He was rowing, along with Andrew, so he couldn’t do it himself.
John went up to the bow of the boat and grabbed a torch, lighting it and placing it on the starboard side. Then he got another and placed it on the port side.
“Thank you, John,” Peter said, ignoring the chill he got as the wind picked up and blew onto his back. He was beginning to think that maybe nothing would happen on their trip across the lake, but the wind was a bad omen. It just felt as though it was bringing a storm with it, but he was probably just making that up.
Peter looked back and barely saw the shore by the light of the moon. “I think we’re far enough out,” he said, setting down his oar. “Drop the nets.”
A few disciples did and tied them off at the side of the boat.
“Now, again, we wait.”
“It seems like we’ve been doing a lot of waiting,” James remarked. “First waiting for the crowds of leave and now, waiting for the fish to get trapped.”
“You’re missing one of the main things we’re waiting for,” Peter said.
“What?” James said confusedly.
“Who Jesus is. He’s never said.”
“Who do you think He is?” James asked.
Peter looked out at the water. “I don’t know yet.”
The twelve inhabitants of the boat got quiet. Nobody said a word. Peter got up and adjusted the net, just trying to find something to do.
The wind began to blow a bit stronger. The moonlight was blocked by clouds and a few drops of rain began to fall.
“Great,” Peter said. “A storm. Come on Andrew, let’s get rowing so we don’t get pushed back onto shore.” Peter went to his own oar and started paddling when Andrew did to make sure they went in a straight line.
Soon, the waves were getting bigger and sloshing up over the side of the boat. “Well, I hope none of you get seasick,” Peter said, the spray from the waves at the bow blowing onto his neck.
Everyone looked at each other, but no one answered.
“I’ll take that as a no,” Peter said. “And that’s a good thing.”
The wind began to blow stronger, so they had to paddle harder to stay in place.
“You know, just pull the nets out. We don’t have time to fish. We’d better just make it Capernaum. James, could you do that?”
James went over and untied the net, pulling it back into the boat. There were one or two fish in it, but he left it on the bottom of the boat.
“Right, Andrew, we get to row some more.” Peter laughed and continued rowing, actually making some distance across the lake. But the wind continued to blow and soon Peter and Andrew were tired.
“Okay, could someone else row?” Peter asked.
James went over and sat down next to him, ready to take the oar when he left.
Peter got up a shook out his sore arms. “Thank you, James. Now, John, could you take Andrew’s spot? Or someone else, if they went to row.”
None of the disciples volunteered.
“Right, John, enjoy.”
John and Andrew switched places.
Peter leaned over the side of the boat and dipped his finger into the water, trying to feel for a current. There was a faint one going back, so that meant they were probably going forward, though not as fast as they normally would, with the wind and the waves.
“Right, keep it up you two. I’d like to make it to Capernaum before dawn.”
The wind picked up a bit more so they were having trouble moving at all, though they still did. The disciples traded out who had to row whenever the person who was got tired. They were all soaked to the skin at midnight and they were all incredibly tired. They took turns sleeping as well, though they found it hard to with the rain and the waves splashing over the bow.
Peter was rowing again when dawn began to near. It was still pitch black and the storm was just as fierce, but he could tell that it was coming.
As he rowed with his back to the bow of the boat, he saw something white behind them, which made him pause in his rowing, and as a result, the boat turned.
“Hey, Peter, you have to keep rowing.”
Peter stood up, staring at the white shape. It looked like a human, and it was walking on the water as it would on a Roman road.
Suddenly, Judas let out a shriek of alarm. “A ghost!” he cried, pointing to the figure.
The few disciples that were asleep jumped awake and looked out to where he pointed, looking alarmed.
But then, over the wind, they heard a voice and the figure raised his arm. “Take courage! It is I, Jesus. Do not be afraid.”
Peter went to the back of the boat and leaned out, holding onto a rope that was tied to the mast. “Lord, if it is you, tell me to come out to you on the water,” he said in a trembling voice, knowing he would.
“What, Peter you can’t do that!” Andrew left his oar and went to Peter in the back of the boat. “Peter, you are just a fisherman. You can’t walk on water, like he can!”
“Come,” Jesus called.
Peter took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and stepped off the back of the boat. He expected to fall through the surface of the water, but instead he was standing on something.
Peter opened his eyes, but he didn’t look down at the water. It felt weird and was moving under his feet.
Peter went and began to walk towards Jesus, trying to ignore the fact that he was really walking on water.
But, as he got close, he stumbled and saw the raging water beneath his feet and the wind blew on his back, and he realized that he was afraid. Then Peter began to sink through the surface of the water, though slowly, and he could feel the cold depths beneath him.
“Jesus, save me!” Peter reached out his hand to his teacher, now up to his waist in water.
Jesus reached out calmly and took his hand. “You of little faith,” he said, holding him but not pulling him out of the water. “Why did you doubt?”
Peter went to answer but found he had none.
The boat came over and Andrew held out his hand to help Peter in. Then Jesus stepped in and suddenly the wind stopped, dying down to a gentle breeze. The rain turned into a drizzle, then stopped a moment later. And then, in the east, they could see the sun rising.
John fell down before Jesus. “You truly are the Son of God.”
Jesus just smiled, then walked to the bow of the boat. “Come on,” he said. “I assume you want to go to Capernaum.”
Peter smiled, then took his spot at the oar and began to row, drying out his clothes as he did. He knew who Jesus was now. The Son of God. The Messiah. The long awaited prophet who would liberate Israel from the control of the Romans.
And while Jesus was two of those, he would not free Israel from the Romans, but die at their hands.