Wednesday, July 12, 2017

My friend, Peter

I'm excited to continue our study of Simon this week. Likable, enthusiastic, totally sold out for Christ. Awesome guy, right? Yep. But he had his issues. Many of those are issues that we can see in our own lives . . .  but Simon "grew up" in the Spirit, and matured to become the man Jesus saw when He said, "You shall be called Peter."
That means there is hope for me and you and everyone else!

Let's continue with this inspiring story ....
We mentioned Simon's impulsive nature: he invited Jesus and the others to his house, even though his mother-in-law was ill (Mark 1:29-30). We also noted that in the Garden of Gethsemane, he pulled out his sword and took off the ear of the high priest's servant; he was impulsively trying to protect Jesus from the mob.
Let's focus on two situations:
Remember when the disciples set off alone in their ship, and the storm came up? They saw Jesus walking toward the ship, on the water. Some may have been speechless, and some cried out in fear, but not Simon!
 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” (Matthew 14:28)
Yes, Simon showed us many times that he was impulsive. In John's gospel, when they saw the risen Lord Jesus on the shore of the Sea of Tiberius, Simon Peter impetuously jumped in!
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. (John 21:7)
Have we ever done impulsive things? Have we let our emotions cause us to "jump" before we've really considered what we are going to do? I wouldn't want anyone to think that I'm saying spontaneity is negative -- but I do think that God's Word tells us that wisdom and discernment are good things!

We noted last time that Simon Peter was outspoken, too.
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (Matthew 16:13-18)

Simon Peter didn't pause for a moment....didn't miss a beat. He answered Jesus immediately, and very emphatically -- "You are the Christ, the Messiah!" Jesus was pleased by his understanding, and the fact that Simon also showed reverence.
Yes, he "did good."
But I've often wondered if it went to his head?
Because right after that, I mean right after, when Jesus is describing His upcoming death (and the events that would lead up to it) Simon "does badly."
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Matthew 16:21-23)
Oh. My. Goodness. Is this the same guy?
I mean, what I see in my mind's eye is Simon Peter, taking hold of the sleeve of Jesus' garment, nudging Him to one side and then beginning to correct Him!!!
This outspoken fellow, who had correctly and courageously said that Jesus was the Messiah, was now reprimanded -- called "Satan." Here's the difference.....Simon had slipped back into relying on human reasoning, and was actually speaking in direct opposition to God's plan.
Have we ever fallen prey to the sin of relying on our human reasoning and intellect, instead of trusting in the infinite power of our Lord?

We noted last time that Simon Peter had a pride problem, too. Let's look back at Matthew....
Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:“‘I will strike the shepherd,    and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'
32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” (Matthew 26:31-33)

Bragging. He forgot what he'd heard so often, growing up and attending lessons in the synagogue. "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." (Proverbs 16:18)   Oh, this was a hard lesson to learn. Still is, for many of us today. Even in tiny ways, our human pridefulness can show itself.....boy, does it cause problems!  And Simon Peter would learn, and endure the heartache that his bragging had caused him....

The very next chapter of Matthew shows us that Simon had a problem with impatience -- and that made him go ahead and be outspoken again:
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (Matthew 17:1-4)

Oh, Simon Peter! My friend, if you could just stand there in awe and reverence.... (Grin) But no, you had to get impatient, and interrupt their discussion!!
Can you imagine? This one makes me think that maybe Elijah mumbled, "Did ya have to bring him along?" No sacrilege intended, but  no one had asked Simon a question. No one had invited him to make a comment, nor should he have felt compelled to offer advice!
Have you ever watched a play or a television show, and you see someone make such an embarrassing blunder, or a foolish mistake, that you cringe? Ahh, that is how I feel when I read that!

All four of the Gospel accounts tell us of Simon Peter's following Christ to the meeting place, and warming by the fires. All four tell us of his shameful denial of Christ -- not once, but three times, just as Jesus told him he would. Simon Peter showed the worst of his human side here, didn't he? He was fearful; he was cowardly; and he lacked that courage and commitment that he had showed before.

But I'm here to tell you some great news....this means the world to me, and I hope it lifts you up, as well! Simon became a strong, courageous "rock" of a man! And Jesus reassured him that he was forgiven!
This hope is available for us, as well -- join me tomorrow and we'll see the rest of the story!


Katie Isabella said...

I will be here for certain.

Austin Towers said...

Simon Peter was so human! And Jesus used him. It gives us all hope! xx