Talk about moments of highs and lows – the disciple Peter had them both. In his lesser moments, sometimes he’s almost a comical figure, as in Matthew 17 where on the Mount of Transfiguration he starts babbling about setting up tents, and God the Father has to tell him to zip it. But there are other good ones too. The “command me to come to you on the water” from Matthew 14 comes to mind. And then there is the time in Matthew 16:22, where he takes Jesus aside…and begins to rebuke Him. I’ll bet he still gets teased for that in heaven.
And yet sometimes, he also did really well, didn’t he? Matthew 16 not only tells the story of Peter’s foolish correction of Jesus, it also tells the story of his greatest triumph – recognizing Who Jesus of Nazareth was:
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Matthew 16:13 – 16 (ESV)
It was a glorious moment for Simon Peter, and yet Jesus says something very instructive for all of us immediately after his confession:
And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 16:13-17 (ESV)
Let’s not miss this, because sometimes a cursory reading of this section makes us think that Peter had quite the spiritual foresight. Nope. That’s not quite right. Apparently, Simon Peter was not to be praised for his incredible insight. Nor was he to be patted on the back for his surpassing knowledge of spiritual things. No, Jesus just says he was…blessed. Not blessed because he was so darn smart – but blessed because the Father had chosen to reveal Jesus’ identity to him.
Sorry Peter, you do need to own your failures, but even your greatest moment…was a total gift from God. Kind of like all of our greatest moments too.
Tomorrow, Friday, January 23rd: Matthew 17