Have you ever felt like you were really “rockin’ the Christian thing”? You know what I mean. Have you had one of those days where you felt that your part of your relationship with God is “on point,” and that maybe this “faith walk” is something you’re finally getting a handle on? Well, take it from me, when you’re having that feeling, BEWARE. You’ve just positioned yourself to be the star of your very own, Peter Episode. Let me explain.
Remember in the Book of Matthew chapter 16 verse 13, when Jesus was with His disciples and asked them what were people saying about him? Basically, He wanted to know, “What’s the word on the street about me?” (That’s my interpretation.) Jesus’ exact words were, “Who do men say that I am?” (Matthew 16:13). So His disciples toss out a few answers, but none stand out. Then Jesus makes His question more personal. “Who do YOU say that I am?” He asks. I can imagine the disciples standing there, looking at their dusty feet hoping not to be noticed. Some may have thought, “You’re a really awesome guy, Jesus. You heal people. You feed people. We don’t quite have a handle on how you do it, yet but….” Then in a burst of legendary revelation, as if a bolt of lightening struck the top of his head and pierced it with the answer, Peter shouts, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus then says, “Peter, Flesh and blood didn’t reveal that to you.” In other words, “You GO, Peter! THAT’S it!!! You just heard directly from Heaven.” What an AWESOME moment for this eager disciple.
I’m sure Peter was feeling pretty good about himself, standing there in front of all his friends. Jesus acknowledged that he got the answer that none of the others could figure out. He was probably thinking, ” I’m the one who got the revelation of who Jesus really is. I must be pretty special, huh?” Now, let’s note something here. Peter, through no effort or ability of his own, received revelation. It was given to him. This was the perfect opportunity for Peter to stand in humility before God and show gratitude that God used him in that moment. Instead, on the heels of his monumental revelation, maybe he gets another bright idea. He figures, since he was right about Jesus’ identity, he’s got more information to share. So he tells Jesus, “Hey Jesus, you don’t have to do this dying thing.” (verse 22) But, this time, it wasn’t revelation. This time, Peter over stepped his bounds. By this time, Peter was overcome with pride. Who was he to tell Jesus’ what He did or didn’t have to do? Now, Peter is actually being used by Satan to tempt Jesus. It happened so quickly, Peter didn’t see it coming. Immediately, he finds himself being publicly rebuked by Jesus in front of the very group he’d just impressed. (verse 23). That, my friend, was a Peter Episode. One minute you’re on top of Mount I-Have-More-Revelation-Than-All-My-Friends, and the next minute, you’re being handed a traffic ticket by a sheriff for . . . Oh, wait, that wasn’t Peter, that’s my story. Let me explain.
I recently experienced my own Peter episode and, I’m warning you, it wasn’t pretty. I’d just had the privilege of leading someone to Christ. It was a member of my own extended family. Needless to say, I was more than excited! I even called a few friends and family members to share the good news. I don’t think my feet touched the ground for two days. But, just like Peter, this was an opportune time for me to stay in a place of humility and gratitude that God used me in that moment to impact someone’s life. And I was humble . . . for a minute.
Then, a few days later, I’m driving to an appointment. The person in front of me was driving as if they’d never been on planet earth. Literally, they were driving as if they were seeing trees and grass and road signs for the very first time. I was in a hurry, but I tried to exercise patience. Slowly….slowly….slowly we puttered along driving what felt like 4 miles an hour with my front bumper maybe 2 feet from their rear bumper. Slowly…slowly…and then, in a burst of I-CAN’T-TAKE-IT-ANY-MORE, I swerved to the left (Yes, even crossing the solid yellow line) to bypass the Road Snail (God Help me!) only to find myself driving head-on into the local sheriff. OH, MY JESUS! As I continued left to pull into a nearby parking lot, the flashing lights of the sheriff’s car followed me to issue me a ticket for my traffic violation.
Somehow, after watching the officer walk away with my driver’s license, I thought about the Road Snail, I mean, driver who was just a few feet in front of me. I thought about how he must have been laughing hysterically when he realized I’d been caught. Then, I thought about Peter and how ridiculous he must have felt, being rebuked in front of the other disciples when, just minutes before, he was being commended. How ridiculous I felt sitting there in my car with the flashing lights of the police car drawing attention to us while people from the neighborhood drove by slowly to see if they recognized the person who got pulled over. How could this be happening to me? Doesn’t this sheriff know that I’m a disciple of Christ?
Now, as embarrassing as that moment was for me, I didn’t have to share it with you. But I thought it was an important opportunity for all of us to know that none of us is immune to Peter episodes. It’s during the times when we feel that we have it “most together” that we’re really most vulnerable to having it all fall apart. By the time the officer returned to my car with my driver’s license (and my traffic ticket), I was able to laugh at myself. So, I asked God to forgive me and got back into the position of humility. Now, God is using my little sitcom to remind you that anytime you start having those prideful feelings that you’re doing it all right, He’s got one word for you: BEWARE! Or you, too, might end up becoming the star of your very own… Peter Episode.
Thanks for reading today’s LifeSpeak for Living. Do you know someone that’s on the brink of a Peter Episode? Do you know someone who’d love to laugh at mine? Share this with them.