Mark 8:27-29, 31-33
(Jesus) asked them, “Who do people say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “You are the Messiah .”
(Jesus) then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Of all Jesus’ twelve disciples, I find that Peter comes across as the most relatable. Time again we see Peter blurting out his gut reaction to Jesus’ commands and teaching, with outright refusals to believe, indignant protests, or trying to trust, and then bottling it halfway through. And in the passage quoted above, it is Peter who declares in an amazing flash of Spirit-led insight and faith: “You are the Messiah.” Yet not long after, he oversteps the mark, tries to block Jesus in His fulfilment of God’s plans, and earns Jesus’ strongest rebuke.
It’s not the most encouraging picture of a future leader of the church! We might rightly conclude that Peter did have a big mouth, a brash personality, a lack of wisdom, and the tendency to act before thinking. And these traits didn’t go away, as Heather reminded us yesterday, even after Jesus’ resurrection, and even into the life of the early church, when again, Peter’s rash decision-making caused issues among the new believers (Gal 2:11-13).
Strangely, this description gives me huge hope. It’s likely that Peter himself helped Mark write his gospel, yet chose to allow these portrayals of his faults and mistakes to be included. Rather than being the perfect saint with everything sorted and no mistakes made, we are invited to see that Jesus takes us as we are, working in and through us despite our stumbling, faltering, up-and-down faith, and keeps doing His work of refining through His Spirit. Peter had a big mouth, but he also had a big heart and a big
love for Jesus which won through despite a sometimes bumpy track record.
Pray: Dear Lord, just like Peter, I just can’t seem to get things right! I might have a big mouth, a tendency to pride, or a faith that fails at times, even though I want to love and serve You. Please keep drawing me to You, as You did with Peter. Shape me through the work of Your Spirit, so that You may be glorified even as You refine my heart.