Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Peter gets a bad rap

Matthew 14:22-33 (New International Version, ©2011)

22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Peter is usually criticized for his moments of doubt but I think he gets a bad rap.

First, notice that the disciples first thought Jesus was a ghost when they saw Him walking on the water. Peter, on the other hand, immediately credited the Jesus he knew for having the power to walk on water. He wants to join Jesus and, in effect, asks Jesus for permission. Jesus says, "Come."

Peter does just fine as long as he trusts his spiritual eyes. It's only when his natural eyes notice the wind that he began to fear.

Jesus nails the problem! "Why did you doubt?" In other words, "Why did you start to trust your natural vision more than you trusted My Power?"

But, what about the other disciples? They never trusted Jesus enough even to stand up in the boat, let alone step out to meet Jesus!

That's why I think Peter gets a bad rap. But, maybe, the real reason is I see so much of Peter in myself. We've all been there. We've started out doing something we really believe the Lord has laid out for us to do. As long as we trust Jesus for our strength and direction, we do great. Things go well. Then, we start to think we're in charge and things start to unravel!

Even so, there is no shame in failing if you have given it your best shot as Peter did. The shame is failing for lack of trying.

Notice what happens after Jesus rebukes Peter's lack of faith. The Scripture says "...when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshipped Him saying, Truly you are the Son of God." Jesus used Peter's sagging faith to draw the other disciples to worship Jesus and to confess His True Identity! So, He can use the rest of us Peters! There's hope for me in all my Peter moments.

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