What Did Peter Doubt?

Twice, in Matthew 15, we read that Peter “cried out in fear.” When the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water toward them in the middle of the night, “they were terrified…and they cried out in fear” (15:26). Jesus reassured them, saying, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid” (15:27).

Faithfully, Peter then asked Jesus, “command me to come to You on the water” (15:28). As Peter stepped out of the boat, following Christ’s instruction, and walked across the top of the sea, “he became frightened,” and as he began to sink, “he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” (15:30). Without any delay, “Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him and said to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’” (15:31).

There is no question that Peter lacked faith, but what did he doubt? He was confident that this was Jesus walking on water and was sure that Jesus had power and authority over the winds and waves (Matthew 8:23-27). Peter did not doubt in the power of Christ or God; after all, in his moment of fear, it was Christ who he turned to first, saying, “Lord save me!” (15:30). So what did he doubt?

Ultimately, Peter doubted his salvation. He knew the power of God, but he failed, in that terrifying moment, to trust in God’s power and will to keep him safe. It is one thing to believe, it is another thing entirely to trust, and as Christians, we need to do both. We need to know how powerful God is, how loving God is, and how eternity-changing Christ’s shed blood is. But, we also need to trust that no matter how stormy or windy life becomes, our spiritual salvation is secure by our obedience to God, by His power, and His will.

Matt Langfield