Summary: Peter fails to see Jesus's supremecy and plan for the coming kingdom and tries to push his plan instead. We often do the same in telling God how things are going to work instead of looking at his plan
Have you ever stuck your foot in your mouth? Have you ever had a time where you thought you knew what you were talking about but it turns out that you didn’t quite have all the facts straight. It can be a little embarrassing.
[Like the stock boy at the grocery store. A lady asked him, "Can I buy a half of lettuce?" He walked back to the manager to ask, not realizing she was walking right behind him. He said, "You’re not going to believe this, there’s an old bag out there who wants to buy half a head of lettuce." Then he turned around and saw her standing there and said, "And this fine lady would like to buy the other half." Later in the day the manager cornered the young man and said, “That was the finest example of thinking on your feet I’ve ever seen! Where did you learn that?” “I grew up in Grand Rapids, and if you know anything about Grand Rapids, you know that it’s known for its great hockey teams and ugly women.” The mangers face flushed, and he interrupted, “My wife is from Grand rapids!” “And which Hockey team did she play for?”}
We have been talking about Peter and Jesus. Last week we looked at Peter walking on the water. In the midst of the storm we are to look to the Lord and he will grant us peace. The storm may continue to rage but there will at least be peace in our hearts.
This week we are going to look at another exchange between Peter and Jesus. As we get ready to read today’s scripture passage I need to set things up a little bit. Jesus and his disciples had been going around to different places where Jesus was teaching and healing. While they were in Caesarea Philippi, a pretty rough place, Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am.” They had responded with, John the Baptist, Elijah because of the prophecy saying that he would return, Jeremiah because he was a weeping prophet and Jesus would also give over to tears or just one of the other prophets.
None of these of course were correct and Jesus then asked the disciples who they thought he was. One may wonder how they reacted to that question. Did they sit there with a mouth full of teeth not quite sure how to respond? Did they all look around and then at Peter? They had thought that this might be the Messiah but they hadn’t been asked to publically state it. Peter is the one who answers, “You are the Christ the Son of the living God.” That must have been a remarkable statement for him to make.
The disciples had spent the most time with Jesus and they were really beginning to figure out who Jesus was. This answer had impressed Jesus and he said that he would build his church on Peter, the Rock, and he would give him the keys of heaven. But they weren’t to tell anyone else what they all knew. I don’t know about you but this is pretty high praise for Peter.
Peter has shown his faith in Jesus in walking on the water but he also doubted him and Jesus had questioned him on that when he asked him, “Why did you doubt?” Peter seems to redeem himself with his answer.
So that is where we are as we look at today’s scripture passage found in Matthew 16:21-28.
Poor Peter, he just can’t seem to get things right. One step forward and two steps back or something like that. Jesus has just given Peter all kinds of high praise and now he is calling him Satan!?! One can only imagine what this did to Peter’s ego but possibly he needed to be brought down a notch.
Like I said the disciples were beginning to get a grasp on who Jesus was, the promised Messiah. Jesus was coming to establish his kingdom. The disciples however were thinking of kingdom like we would think of when we hear the word kingdom. They were thinking of an earthly kingdom a dynasty. They were ready to get back to Israel being a powerful autonomous nation again. They wanted to be free once and for all from Rome and any other foreign rulers and their pagan gods. After all they had been praying for this to happen for years.
The disciples were going to get in on the ground floor of this kingdom. They were the followers of Jesus and if he was going to overthrow the government then they would be called upon to be his advisor and to help him rule. This was how things were done in that day and so you really can’t blame the disciples for thinking anything to the contrary.