Why Christians Fall

Why We Fall, and How Not To

Matthew 14:15-31

DATE:  4 Nov, 2007  AM

PLACE: BBC Ballincollig


I.         Introduction (1Cor 10:12)


A.      Just how strong is your confidence in God? Just how far will you trust Him?

1.        Faith is praying for a mountain to move, and being shocked when it doesn’t!

2.        But most of us would agree that our faith just isn’t that strong very often!

3.        Many of you will testify to the greatness of just trusting the Lord Jesus through the hard times!

4.        But many of you will quickly confess that you have doubted at times, and not just doubted, but even given up.


a.        It is called, falling, or failing, or backsliding, or losing

b.       And it usually happens when we think we are doing fine.


B.       God sometimes challenges us / tests our faith – He let’s us see just how small, or weak our faith in Him really is!

C.       ILLUS: A tight-rope walker was demonstrating his skill to a group of eager young men who wanted to be able to do the same thing. He carefully, methodically placed each foot in front of the other and crossed the entire span of the circus ring to their delight. But when one of the young men mounted the rope, he quickly fell to the net below. Time after time he struggled to make it a little further, but still, would lose his balance and fall once again. Finally, one of the young men said to the teacher, “Ok, you have taught us how to walk, but now teach us how not to fall!”

D.      That’s just what Jesus taught in Matthew 14, with the disciples being taught not just how to trust the Lord, but also how not to fall into unbelief. They were actually taught and tested three times in a row all in one day, and each time failing.

E.       But I’m glad God uses even our failures to teach us success. Especially in the area of confidence and faith in Him.


II.       Background (Mt 14:15-30)


A.      The Easy Test (Mt 14:15-21) – “Give ye them to eat”


1.        A huge crowd had gone for 3 days without eating, just so they could hear the wonderful words that Jesus taught

2.        The disciples were worn out – asked Jesus to send them away

3.        But Jesus said they don’t need to leave

4.        And then Jesus challenged His “mighty” disciples to supply the needs of that great crowd – “give YE them to eat”

5.        And they instantly failed the challenge – looked in their pockets, looked at their bank accounts – looked at the economy and quickly decided they could NOT do it


B.       The Hard Test (Mt 14:22-24) – “And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side


1.        Simple instruction: Get into Peter’s boat, and head over to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.


a.        The questions raced in their minds… Why? What’s over there? What’s wrong with right here? Why do we have to go now?

b.       Jesus does not answer them – He just pushes and presses them into the boat and shoves it off into the water, as they look at Him in confusion!


2.        Simple Effort


a.        The disciples are rowing across a ten mile stretch of water, at night! And they are doing it ALONE!

b.       Ok, so it was easy at first. Just set out in the direction they wanted to go, and like good fishermen, who knew very well how to travel in the water at night – loads of night fishing

c.        But it didn’t stay easy. As was the case, a storm quickly developed over the water – not just rain, but fierce winds, dizzying waves, and the confident disciples quickly began to panic (see Mark 6:45-51)!


3.        The Simple Test was:


a.        To stay the course

b.       To NOT become afraid

c.        To be on the lookout for Jesus


4.        They failed all three!

5.        But THAT wasn’t the hardest test they would experience – no. Just when you think it couldn’t get any harder, the Lord allows something more unexpected to happen

6.        TRUTH: It is ONLY out of the hardest tests and trials that the greatest miracles occur.

7.        ALSO: When you feel all alone, and are trying to do right and failing, just remember WHO is defending you in prayer right at that moment (Mt 14:23; Luke 22:31,32; Heb 7:25)!


C.       The Hardest Test (Mt 14:25-30)


1.        The hardest challenges are not when Jesus is not there, but when He shows up, and we have let our fears and our past failures blind us from His presence in our lives! Too many have let their past blind them to the work of Almighty God in their midst!

2.        Jesus says some of the most precious words any person can hear:


a.        “Be excited – It’s ME”

b.       “So, DON’T be afraid anymore!”


3.        But no one said a thing – except Peter! Notice Peter’s response to the situation:


a.        Peter doubted, yes, but let’s give Peter some credit

b.       Peter WANTED to believe – AMEN!? That’s a good start!


4.        But the test had only begun

5.        Peter calls out to this dark form out on the water and puts a test back on Him – “If it really is you Jesus, let me out on the water with you!”

6.        Notice that there is no rebuke from Jesus, and believe me, the other 11 disciples were just gobsmacked – they weren’t moving, and saying a word!

7.        There are two kinds of faith here:


a.        The doubtful, hesitant, but risky kind of faith that jumps out of a ship onto rolling waves in a storm simply at the words of Jesus

b.       And the confident, reserved, comfortable kind of faith that seeks only to stay safe and secure


8.        Jesus said loud and clear, above the roar of wind and rain and waves… “COME!”

9.        And BOY did Peter come!


a.        Jumps out of that ship right onto the water

b.       Starts walking like he owned the place, right on the swelling waves

c.        Some “sceptics” say it was ice Peter walked on, some say it was only a parable, or a dream! It was water! And it was STORMY water at that – no levelling out of the water ahead of him – nope!


10.     But there is ALWAYS a “but” (Mt 14:30)


a.        Peter started noticing just exactly what he was doing – he really WAS walking on water

b.       Peter wasn’t just walking on water, he was walking on stormy water

c.        Peter was feeling the wind, and hearing its roar

d.       Peter was going UP and DOWN with the water, and what was happening just SHOULDN’T be happening

e.        And Peter dropped like a rock into the water


D.      All of this was for our benefit


1.        To learn WHY we fall like a rock, and how NOT to!

2.        To learn why we find it hard to believe God for the impossible



III.     Message – Three Reasons Why Christians Find it Hard to Walk on Water


A.      Prideful Ignorance.


1.        Peter had a great desire – to really see if Jesus was out in the middle of that storm

2.        And it was pretty cool that Peter was wanting to actually get out there ON that water

3.        But Peter was thinking proudly – thinking about himself


a.        Let ME walk

b.       I want to be able to do cool stuff too

c.        If it is possible, then “I” should be allowed to do it


4.        Do you know what’s funny, when Peter DID get out on the water, he actually thought that “HE” was walking on the water

5.        He had no idea that it was JESUS holding him up all the time

6.        We get through some pretty hard times, and rough trials, and 99% of the time, think “WE” believe it was our own strength that carried us

7.        Did you know that no matter how smart, or how able a person may be, without Jesus, you are going to sink!

8.        Without Jesus, the best, most devout, most religious, most kind, most giving person will absolutely sink into the devil’s hell for all eternity – that is, without Jesus!

9.        Without Jesus , no matter how smart, how good, how rich, how famous… without Jesus, you are going down, and FAST!

10.     If there is anything you can learn from this, it is that PRIDEFUL IGNORANCE that sends people to hell the most

11.     AND, it is prideful ignorance that causes most of our falls

12.     We so easily forget just how much we need the life-sustaining power of Jesus the Messiah!

13.     Here are the words we must confess (Philp 3:3)


B.       Diverted Attention.


1.        Peter made a major mistake.


a.        His FAITH in the WORD turned to FEAR of the WIND.

b.       His DELIGHT in the word turned to DISTRACTION by the WAVES!

c.        His THRILL was replaced with TERROR


2.        When Peter got out on the water, the storm didn’t change, and still he walked

3.        But when Peter allowed his eyes to wander just a bit… When Peter started to try and understand just what was happening… When Peter started letting the wind and the storm have his attention

4.        Well, you know what happened

5.        Did you know…


a.        The waves were dashing before he ever got out of the boat!

b.       Nothing changed except him!  His FOCUS!!

c.        The wind and the rain is still gonna rage around you when you walk! Faith does not change your circumstances, it just lifts you above the waves and the storm!


6.        It is amazing just how powerful the pull of our storms are!

7.        AND it is amazing just how blinding life is to our view of Jesus


a.        The TV set being on all day everyday… blinds us to Jesus – no quiet time

b.       People not here, and people who ARE here divert our attention from the REAL person who is here – Jesus

c.        EXAMPLE: A house built on a hillside with a beautiful view of the sea, only to have a whole series of high-rise houses built between your house and the sea! Very angering! We would do everything we could to protect our view wouldn’t we?

d.       Well, let’s get angry at how we have allowed almost EVERYTHING to come between us and our view of God


1)       Your Sunday activities, or your bed

2)       Your playstations and videos

3)       Your romance novels and adult channels

4)       Your busy schedules and newspapers, and self-help books


8.        What is able to divert your attention from the Lord Jesus?


a.        A pretty girl – or even a pretty picture of a girl on the internet?

b.       A scummy guy – it seems the scummier the more interesting?

c.        A fast car, or a faster buck? Get rich quick schemes still abound, and take all the money and energies and attention of people away from Jesus

d.       An angry home? A busy schedule?

e.        Boredom and discontentment?

f.         People’s praise, admiration and applause?

g.       Apathy?

h.       Your friends, your enemies?

i.         Your guilt and shame for secret sins?


k.        Whatever it is, it will sink you like a rock too!


C.       Fatal Fears - “he was afraid”


1.        And not just a little afraid

2.        Peter had seen other people drown in storms like this

3.        Peter was WAY out now, way away from the ship

4.        He was not afraid because he was sinking, he was afraid that he would sink – he began to fear what might happen, or could happen, or even SHOULD happen!

5.        Job 3:25  For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.

6.        There are fears, and then there are fears that are fatal – stop you dead in your walk with God!

7.        “Fears” are the absence of faith just as darkness is the absence of light

8.        What do you fear? I mean, REALLY fear?

9.        What do you allow to paralyze you so that the impossible just stops happening in your life?


a.        Mockery?

b.       Losing friends, your job, your family?

c.        The unknown, the impossible ACTUALLY working out right for you?

d.       Dying?

e.        Loneliness?


10.     Peter allowed the trial he was in to scare him – even though he was ALMOST to Jesus! Peter was only ONE STEP AWAY from touching Jesus!


IV.    Application


A.      Let’s give Peter Credit


1.        Peter wanted to believe that Jesus is always near, especially in our storms, and troubles

2.        Peter wanted to know was it really possible to do the impossible!

3.        Peter walked on water – when no one else did!

4.        Peter knew who to call – he knew how to pray!


a.        Peter prayed-no prayer, no power! no intercession, no intervention!

b.       Peter's prayer was not some long, theological prayer, it was short and to the point!

c.        Accurate prayers get answered accurately.


B.       Jesus reached right out and picked Peter up! No delay!


1.        We always want God to calm the storm, but Jesus calmed Peter down first, showing us that we need to let Him calm us IN the midst of our storms

2.        People will let you down- but JESUS will NEVER let you down- He will always PICK you UP  and He will not let you go!

3.        Even though Peter took his eyes off Jesus, Jesus never took his eyes off Peter.

4.        His will never lead us, where His grace can never keep us!


C.       Now comes a rebuke – Why did you doubt me?


1.        How could anyone who had seen Jesus feed 5,000, heal leapers, raise the dead, touch the eyes of the blind, speak such truths and wisdom… how could anyone look anywhere else than at Jesus?

2.        how could Mary, blessed Joseph, Padre Pio ever be considered worthy of another look after you have seen Jesus by faith?

3.        How could a trial or a storm have your attention after you have been invited to walk on the water with Jesus?


D.      Here is the greatest truths


1.        Without Jesus, we can do absolutely nothing

2.        When things are going well, it is because of Jesus helping us, even when we don’t deserve it – He is busy interceding for us!

3.        When we fall, it is good for us – proves our need for Him. If you don’t like that, then just go ahead and sink man! I want to learn how to follow my Lord even when it is impossible to do

4.        We usually fall just before we would succeed – just before our target

5.        Walking AFTER a fall is oh so much more real – clinging hard to Jesus


V.      Conclusion – You Can Trust The Lord Jesus (Mt 14:32,33)


A.      Do we fail? Yes! Do we fall when we try and do what the Lord asks of us? Most definitely. Why?

B.       Why Do Christians Fall? Three simple yet straight answers…


1.        Prideful Ignorance. We forget we can do nothing without Christ!

2.        Diverted Attention. We think troubles and problems are bigger than God can handle

3.        Fatal Fears. We allow fears to take over instead of faith!


C.       What is the secret to walking on water? To doing the impossible?


1.        JESUS

2.        Trusting Him, obeying Him, looking unto Him for everything

3.        Crying out to Him when you do fall – HEY! When Jesus picked Peter out of the water, Peter WALKED on the water AGAIN back to the ship! You can walk again! But ONLY with the help of Jesus! I bet you Peter leaned heavily on Jesus’ grip after that!!!


The following poem is from a sermon delivered by the distinguished 20th century African-American pastor, Dr. S.M. Lockridge



Christ is enduringly strong,

He is entirely sincere.

He’s eternally steadfast,

He’s immortally graceful.

He’s imperially powerful,

He’s impartially merciful.

No barrier can hinder Him from pouring out His blessing.

He’s God’s Son

He’s a sinner’s Saviour.

He’s the centrepiece of civilization.

He’s the greatest phenomenon to ever cross the horizon of this world.



He can satisfy all of our needs, and He can do it simultaneously.

He supplies strength for the weak.

He’s available for the tempted and tried,

He sympathizes and He sees.

He guards and He guides.

He heals the sick.

He cleanses the lepers.

He forgives sinners.

He discharges debtors;

He delivers the captives.

He defends the feeble;

He blesses the young.

He regards the aged;

He rewards the diligent.

He beautifies the meek.

I’m trying to tell you, Church—



He’s the key to knowledge.

He’s the wellspring of wisdom.

He’s the doorway of deliverance.

He’s the pathway to peace.

He’s the roadway to righteousness.

He’s the highway to holiness.

He’s the gateway to glory.



He’s the Master of the mighty.

He’s the Captain of the conquerors.

He’s the Head of all heroes.

He’s the Leader of the legislators.

He’s the Overseer of the overcomers.

He’s the Governor of the governors.

He’s the Prince of princes.

He’s the King of kings.

He’s the Lord of lords.



His office is manifold.

His promise is sure.

His life is matchless.

His goodness is limitless.

His mercy is everlasting.

His love never changes.

His Word is enough.

His grace is sufficient.

His reign is righteous.

His yoke is easy.

His burden is light.


I wish I could describe Him to you!

He is indescribable

because He’s incomprehensible.

He’s irresistible, and He’s invincible.

You can’t outlive Him,

and you can’t live without Him.

Herod couldn’t kill Him,

Death couldn’t handle Him,

And thank God the grave couldn’t hold Him.

There was nobody before Him,

There will be nobody after Him.

He had no predecessor,

and He’ll have no successor.

You can’t impeach Him,

and He’s not going to resign.

Listen to me, Church—



Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland