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Michael Mize Art Blog

Peter's Doubt

by mize , September 9, 2008—10:30 PM

Topics: Christianity, Faith, inspiration, painting

This painting is inspired by the account of Peter walking on the water found in Matthew 14:25-33. In the story, which immediately follows Jesus feeding the five thousand, the apostles are fighting their way through a storm as they cross the Sea of Galilee to the shores of Gennesaret. They are terrified when they discover the figure of Jesus approaching the boat and walking on the water. (verse 26) Jesus reassures the disciples, and Peter, in a statement that comes dangerously close to challenging Jesus, says, "Lord, if it's you, tell me to come to you on the water." (verse 28) Peter takes a few cautious steps and finds that he is indeed walking on the water. This is the point of the story which seems to get the most attention. However, what strikes me as the most significantly human moment of the story is what immediately follows Peter's bold first steps. In verse 30, Peter takes notice of the wind and the storm and begins to doubt and finds himself quickly sinking into the sea. He must cry out to the Lord to save him, and of course, Jesus effortlessly lifts him from the stormy waters. In spite of his surroundings, Peter still manages to doubt. Even in the midst of physically participating in an amazing miracle, Peter looses his faith. How much like Peter are we all? How blessed are we that we can always cry out to Jesus to save us? Compositionally, I arranged this canvas to place the viewer in the boat with the other disciples, watching these events unfold. Peter's foot is positioned directly in the center of the canvas, and the arm of the disciple holding the lantern also sheds light on this pivotal element. However, despite the fact that his foot was bearing his weight on the surface of water a second before, Peter's doubt has caused him to begin sinking into the sea.




  Michael Mize ( homepage )

09/10/2008 * 13:32:26

Peter certainly is an iconic figure for human nature in general. But I've always been struck by that part of the story. For him to witness, first hand, Jesus physcially walking on the water and then have the audacity to basically issue him an ultimatum or a "dare". Asking for proof of of an act that is in itself meant to prove Jesus' divinity seems to me, exceesively bold. But then again, as you said, Peter was just being Peter.


  Jessica Greenlee ( homepage )

09/10/2008 * 01:34:54

Interesting. I've never seen the story as Peter challenging Jesus--just as Peter being Peter and getting all excited and impetuous.

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