We see that doubt causes fear, but we also see a hint of how we can combat that fear and get it under control. As long as Peter kept his focus on Christ, he could do the impossible, but once he began walking by sight, fear gripped him. Under its control, he was no longer able to do the impossible. Even though fear is a natural human emotion, do we control it or does it control us (see Genesis 4:7)?
Hebrews 3:12 warns, "Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God." We need to be on guard against unbelief. The author conjures up a picture of an enemy ready to pounce, advising us that we always need to be at the ready for its attack. We must face it and overcome it.
This verse is not talking about the normal unbelief and its fruit of fear that all people have, for fearfulness is a common human condition. As our Creator, God understands that doubts will creep in now and again. Rather, it speaks of a heart controlled by doubt, by unbelief, leading to fear that can cause us to cut and run from the living God. That kind of heart will drag a person down just as Peter's doubt dragged him down into the waters of Galilee.
The central peril of unbelief is that it breaks the trust that is the basis of our relationship with God. We can see how this worked in Satan. God created him perfect (Ezekiel 28:15), yet somewhere along the line he no longer believed that God was good and doubted that God had his best interests at heart. This doubt about God's love led to the fear that he would not get what he deserved. That fear, born of his unbelief and doubt, led to his rebellion and the most glaring example yet of departing from the living God.
Does God have our best interests at heart? Jeremiah 29:11 says, Yes! "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." As the old saying goes, this is straight from the horse's mouth—from the highest Authority in the universe. The only question is do we believe it with every fiber of our beings?
The Sin of Fear (Part One)
Christ's miracle of walking on the water (Matthew 14:22-33; Mark 6:45-52; John 6:15-21) took place soon after feeding the 5,000. The next day He preached a sermon in the synagogue that turned their rejoicing into near total rejection—almost all but the twelve disciples left Him. A representative of God must not trust in human praise nor withhold the truth to try to please people. Instead, as a true witness, he must preach God's truth regardless of the world's disapproval.
Later, Jesus told His disciples to set out in their boat for the western shore of the Sea of Galilee. At three hours after midnight, straining at the oars against the storm, they were still only halfway across the lake. In a contrary wind and tossed by the waves, the disciples did not realize that Jesus was fully aware of their difficulty. They were about to learn of His sympathy and willingness to come to their aid. He approached the distressed disciples in an entirely unexpected way, by walking on the turbulent sea as if it were stable as rock.
Clearly, He had been praying for and watching out for them while on the mountain, but when He passed near them, they did not recognize their Savior. The night was extremely black in the storm, and their nerves were on edge with fear. Under these conditions, they thought He was a spirit, an ominous apparition of some kind. But He encouraged them immediately with familiar reassurance: "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid." Later in their lives during times of anxiety, this moment probably came to mind as a lesson deeply received and continually comforting.
Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Walking on the Water (Part One)
The heart of Christ's miracle of walking on the water (Matthew 14:22-33; Mark 6:45-52; John 6:15-21) is that of Jesus' direct control over natural law. His paradoxical action against the known laws of gravity and of the properties of liquid water did not change, suspend, or cancel these universal laws themselves; instead, it was the exercise of a stronger power. By using an analogy, Herbert Lockyer sheds light on the principle at work:
The law of gravity is not set aside when the magnet collects iron filings; it is only that the superior force of magnetism has overcome gravitation. So what happened that stormy night was the exercise of Christ's omnipotence, as He, the Creator of seas and winds revealed His authority over them, and they being His, He could use them as He desired. It was His will which bore Him triumphantly above those waters. (All the Miracles of the Bible, p. 201.)
All things are possible with the Father and Jesus Christ. To doubt that they can accomplish such things is faithlessness. One who has learned to trust in God and believe in His Word does not wonder whether God can intervene on his behalf, although he may wonder at the method or the way it is carried out.
Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: Walking On Water (Part Two)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Matthew 14:29: