I feel like Peter has always been the disciple I relate the most to- so full of passion, frequently putting his foot in His mouth- experiencing some moments of pure joy- and others of deepest, agonizing sorrow.
I took some time over the past week to read about Peter- here are some of the passages that I read and meditated on.
13 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. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
Wow, what an amazing moment that must have been! Peter is told by Jesus that he will be a rock on which God’s church is built.
His passion and love for Jesus is so evident in this scene. His faith in what he emphatically believes with unswerving loyalty. But then, shortly after- the following conversation takes place…
21 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.”
I can’t imagine how humbling that would be- I noted that Jesus took Peter aside for this rebuke- and did not publicly chastise him. Peter truly loved Jesus- and I can imagine he felt that he was being loyal and loving in emphatically stating the things that he did.
It is a good reminder that even when we think we have others best interests at heart- we need to humbly seek God’s wisdom- knowing that our own feeble interpretations many times miss the mark and can cause more harm and hurt.
This has made me so hesitant when giving advice to others- rather- we should be praying together- and urging others to seek God’s will in prayer- rather than gratifying our pride and their impatience by presenting a ready solution that may lead someone astray.
Two of the most challenging things that we are urged to do in Scripture-
- Wait on God
- Practice Humility
These are concepts so foreign in our society, we must make a conscious effort to obediently practice what God has called us to- even if it means waiting months for an answer- much further beyond what we feel we can bear.
Humility is so anomalous to our pride-filled existence- our desire to be independent- to not need anyone’s help- even God’s.
31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”
66 While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. 67 When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.
“You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.
68 But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway.
69 When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” 70 Again he denied it.
After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”
71 He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”
72 Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.
Have you ever wept bitterly in grief over your own sin? The recognition that we have failed our Lord and Savior- we have sinned with full realization that what we were doing was wrong- and yet we do it anyway.
Regardless of what motivated us in that moment- pride, lust, selfishness, anger- we turned our back on our Savior.
For me, repentance from those acts was life changing- when we realize the depth of our need for Christ- that we are truly lost without Him- that what the world offers does not satisfy- only He does.
I want to weep for Peter in this moment- sometimes I do. Because I understand the bitter disappointment and grief of failing my Savior and my Friend- of knowing that I am the one who caused Him pain.
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
1 Peter 5:10-11 NIV
10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 5:10-11 ASV (American Standard Version)
10 And the God of all grace, who called you unto his eternal glory in Christ, after that ye have suffered a little while, shall himself perfect, establish, strengthen you.
11 To him be the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Peter 5:10-11 ESV (English Standard Version)
10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
And how much richer our experience, reading these words of Peter, after being reminded of his journey- he learned and knew from experience how all the events of life can mold us into men and women God can use for His glory.
I pray that Peter has encouraged you today- for though he made many mistakes, and he was brought low- God restored Him and used his life to mightily testify to the truth of the Gospel.
Even in our own mistakes and failings- our pride, our impatience, our selfishness- God can use us if we continually offer ourselves up to Him- feeble as we are- and allow Him to use us to touch those around us with His Love and share how He has redeemed us through His glorious Grace.