ANOTHER WORK IN PROGRESS
The Upward Look, by Jon Forrest
Another Work in Progress
I appreciate the Apostle, Simon Peter. He is a great example of how I often find myself in the service of the Lord. He was and I am a “work in progress.” He often had the best of intentions, but they resulted in the worst of actions or the absolutely wrong words. I can relate to that, can you?
In Matthew 16 Jesus was telling his disciples that he was going to be delivered into the hands of evil men who would kill him, but he would rise from the dead in three days. Strangely, Peter tuned out the part where Jesus gave the victorious promise of his resurrection when he heard the words about Christ’s death. We see that he and the disciples had failed to pay attention to the resurrection promise when the women came to them with word that the tomb was empty. They found it to be a mystery when all they had to do was remember the promise of their Lord. Peter quickly blurted out words that sounded like, “Over my dead body!” He wasn’t about to let Jesus die. We are certain that Peter’s expression came from his good intentions of love and commitment to Jesus. But Jesus saw Peter as getting in the way of God’s plan by listening to ideas that came from the flesh. Jesus looked him dead in the eye and declared, “Get behind me, Satan!” He went on to explain to Peter that his desire to halt the plan God had put into motion and what he wanted to do was not of God, but from evil minded man.
Later, when Peter heard Jesus telling the disciples again about God’s plan for his sacrificial death for them, he focused on Christ’s prophecy that the disciples would cut and run at his arrest. Peter mouthed off again, “Even if everyone forsakes you, I will never do that.” The other disciples mumbled that they would do what Peter declared. Jesus rebuked Peter with another prophecy. “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny you even know me three times.” Jesus knew Peter better than he knew himself.
Once again, great intentions were followed by disastrous results. Even when Peter stayed near the trial of Jesus, fear got the best of him. He denied his connection with Jesus three times in one night.
When Jesus was betrayed by Judas and arrested by the religious leaders in the middle of the night, Peter forgot that Jesus had warned the disciples that it was God’s plan and that he would rise from the grave. He also failed to notice how willing Jesus was to accept his arrest. In a moment of fury, he whipped out his sword and started swinging. He swung his sword at a man named Malchus who was the servant of the high priest (possibly his bodyguard). A lot has been made of Peter’s poor swordsmanship and it makes sense. Peter was a fisherman, not a soldier. You think he was aiming at his head and got the ear. On the other hand, I think Peter was likely going after the guy in charge, the High Priest. It is possible that Malchus stepped in front of his boss and took the blow for him. At any rate, some of the Gospel accounts have Jesus rebuking Peter saying, “Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” He went on to explain to Peter and those standing around them that Jesus was not defenseless and could call on 12 legions (tens of thousands) of angels to defend him by just saying the word. Some Gospels have Jesus touching the damaged ear of Malchus and making it whole again.
Great intentions with dumb results.
You may have heard the old saying, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Jesus could see that in Peter and often sees it in us.
Peter’s and my problems came when we decided for ourselves what Jesus should want when he has already told us what he really wants. Jesus wanted passionately to go to the cross. Peter just as passionately wanted to prevent it. Had he succeeded in his goal, think what a disaster it would have meant for the world, for us and for Peter himself. Peter wanted Jesus to know how dedicated he was. Jesus wanted Peter to realize his own frail humanity and that Jesus loved him anyway.
We sometimes criticize sinful behavior and the ones who commit it because we count them to be the enemy. Yet Jesus told us that he came to seek, rescue and save sinners because he loved them. Paul told us in Ephesians 6 that those who sin are not our enemies, only the one who causes them and us to sin. We also find in Scripture that we are sinners too and that the salvation we have is for all, not just the worthy. It was not our worthiness that took away our sin. It was only by God’s grace that our sins and their consequences were and continue to be removed.
Eventually Peter learned his lessons. Hopefully we will learn ours.
This Sunday we will continue our series of messages titled, Rocky Road
If God can use Peter, he can use you. We will share a message titled Temper, Temper! Based on John 18:10-11 and other Gospel accounts of this event. Plan to join us in person or through our streaming outlets; Facebook Live, our YouTube channel or our website: fccclovis.com.
Another work in progress,