Peter, Peter, Peter

Last week, we talked a little bit about the disciples.  Today, I want to focus on Peter for a few minutes.  Take a look at these couple of passages.

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?  And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.  He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?  And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.  And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. - Matthew 16:13-17 

From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.  Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.  But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.- Matthew 16:21-23

Did you notice the references?  Same book.  Same chapter.  Just a few verses from the first to the second.  In just a handful of verses, Peter went from being "blessed" to being "Satan."  From praised to rebuked.  From right to wrong.  It took only a few verses for Peter to put his foot in his mouth, and unfortunately, it doesn't stop there.  Look at his comments on the Mount of Transfiguration:

Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.- Matthew 17:4

The first part of Peter's dialogue is flawless.  "Lord, it's good for us to be here."  He should have stopped there, but he didn't.  "I've got an idea.  Let's make three altars--one for each of you!"  Peter, Peter, Peter!  What were you thinking?  Don't you know when to stop talking?

But before we get too hard on Peter, I should probably tell you that this entry is not meant to pick on Peter.  It's meant to show us how easy it is to fall.  It's intended to be a reminder to us that we are far from perfect, and it only takes a moment for us to fall from our self-appointed pedestals.

I'm reminded of some of the falls I've taken while out hiking.  Jason says I have a "gift" for falling, not because of how often I fall, but because of the way I fall.  I can go from standing tall to flat on the ground before I even realize I'm falling.  One minute I'm standing or walking, the next instant I'm on the ground, fighting back tears of pain and wondering what in the world just happened.  It's like the blink of an eye.  I fall so quickly that I just become a blur.  (What a "gift" to have, huh?)

Our Christian walk can be the same way.  One minute we're walking along in the love of the Lord, doing His will, singing His praises, and the next instant, we're on our behinds, wounded and weary and wondering if we have the strength to get back up and finish "the hike."

The next time you feel like criticizing Peter (let's face it, there's a lot of material to go on there), say a prayer instead.  Ask God to help you to stand strong and to not fall.  After all, we want to be blessed, praised, and right.  Think about it, if people were reading our stories, would they have reason to criticize?  Most definitely!  Be careful.  Life is slippery.  Be sure you're holding to the Rock.