Literally and practically, walking on water is not that great a skill it seems to me. It seems like Jesus did it simply because he didn’t want to walk around the shore of the lake that we often call the Sea of Galilee.
Matthew spend more time with Peter’s experience of getting out of the boat and walking on the water than with anything Jesus did. Looking at all our sacred texts, we have to admit that the only unique miracle attributed to Jesus was the resurrection from the dead. Moses, Elijah and Peter are all accredited to miracles equal to anything Jesus did.
In this case, it seems Jesus was more intent on empowering Peter than doing anything spectacular himself. In fact there is a lot more empowering done by Jesus than we often think about.
My take-aways for this story in Matthew 14:22-34 are:
Peter was able to get out of the boat and walk on water just as Jesus did.
Peter began to drown himself.
Yes, the wording in the Greek text says that the sinking that Peter was doing was something he was doing to himself. We miss that in the English translations. It is a perfect metaphor for the self-fulfilling prophecy idea. When we focus on the external storms of life, rather than our own internal strengths, we drown ourselves by fears and feelings of impotence.
So Jesus and his disciples traveled from one side of the lake to the other. Other than that there was nothing else accomplished in this story that I can see beyond giving us the metaphor that we have within us the ability to rise above the storms of life if we dare to get out of the boat.
There are some difficulties with deciding to get out of the boat: 1) Others on boat may be non-supporters – “Stay here; don’t go; you’ll get hurt; things will never be the same; we need you here.” Thus the potential jumper has to deal with guilt trips, co-dependent colleagues, manipulation, etc. 2) Once in the water, with first wave or mouthfull of water the now water walker may decide, “Dumbest thing I ever tried to do; bad idea.” The ultimate challenge then is to be the self that one is called to be and not sucumb to a failure of nerve.