– Mark 9:2-6 “And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and let them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified.
–John 18:10-11 “Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”
– John 21:6-7 “He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea.”
– Matthew 14:28-29 “And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water,” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus.
– Matthew 16:15-16 “He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
– John 18:15 “Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple…”
– Luke 22:33 “Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.”
– Matthew 16:22 “And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
– Matthew 14:30-31 “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
– Galatians 2:11-13 “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came, he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.”
Controlled by outside influences
– Matthew 14:30 “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.
– Luke 22:55-62 “And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man was also with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.” And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You are also one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.” And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.”
“No man loved his Savior more sincerely than he did, yet his timidity and irresoluteness of character often led to him to courses of life suited to deeply wound his cause”
This hits home.
Peter found it easy to be different when in the presence of Jesus and his fellow peers. But once he moved out of his comfortable circle, or around influential people, it was easier for him to let go of his convictions and fit in with the masses. Fear took over once there was no outside support around him. But faith only when surrounded by fellow believers is not true faith at all.
“Faith & trust do not relieve the pain of reality.”
Peter’s faith and trust did not relieve the pain of the reality that his Savior had to die. The reality that he felt deserted and confused about why the Messiah had to die. The reality that sometimes he didn’t enjoy being the odd one out and consequently lowered his convictions. The reality that at times he only felt strong enough to be a follower of God when he was with his own crowd, but not around the people who desperately needed the truth, like when he denied Christ. The reality that he was called to be different, and sometimes that meant being put into situations that he didn’t want to be in.
He was ready to follow Jesus and do great things for him, but sometimes when the reality faced him, he backed down from the challenge.
Many of these same realities that challenged Peter challenge me. But maybe that is because God’s reality is so different than ours. Our reality is focused on this world. God’s reality is focused on His world.
Reality: The state of things as they actually exist, rather than as they may appear or might be imagined. In a wider definition, reality includes everything that is and has been, whether or not it is observable or comprehensible. (Wikipedia)
We must lose our grip on the world’s reality and focus on God’s. His reality is that no matter what we face here on earth, it doesn’t matter in the
long eternal run. Because this life truly is short, and nothing is too much for us to overcome with God’s grace. God’s state of things as they actually exist is that He is to be glorified, whatever the circumstances, and one day we will spend eternity with Him in Heaven. Nothing is impossible for us to overcome with God’s grace.
But how can we make this switch of realities?
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and He will make your paths straight.” Sounds easy, right? Trust God and soon there will be a curvy, troublesome road being transformed into a smooth painless journey. Maybe Peter had trouble with this reality as well. Once the Messiah came and conquered the Romans, everything would be perfect. No more oppression. The reality of the Messiah and what that would require of his faith shook him and the other disciples to the core momentarily when it didn’t happen according to their plan. But this Proverb has a deeper meaning in mind than a trouble-free way to Heaven.
The Greek word translated “straight” can also mean “right, pleasant, prosperous”. But even these definitions can cause people to create the wrong idea. By ‘straight’, I believe that the idea is more about having a clear direction. Other versions will use the word ‘direct’ in place of ‘straight’, but even ‘direct’ can cause some people to think that God will show you the way to go, no hard choices will have to be made. But when the path is straight, you can see all the way to your end goal. When Jesus died on the cross, Peter may have thought the road had quite a few curves, potholes, and dead ends. He had to make a difficult choice. Continue in what seemed to be a dead end, due to the death of who he thought would be the Messiah, or admit that he had been wrong. But when he saw the risen Christ, he saw that the same road he had been traveling on was leading him on to the long-awaited Messiah. He saw the true path the Lord had in mind since the beginning of creation. Not an earthly salvation from mortal men, but a spiritual salvation from the forces of Hell. And once he saw the end goal and had a clear direction, he grew stronger. Once he saw God’s reality, that was all he needed. A straight path with no troubles makes a weak faith, no perseverance, and no seriousness of staying on the path we have laid before us. With a straight path, there is incentive to trust in the Lord, because you begin to think that you are doing fine by yourself without any help from Him.
More often than not, I’m a copier. I’m not very good at being original. I wait for others to do something before I completely make up my own mind. True, there are some areas that I’m willing to jump out there and be different. But they aren’t the majority. Instead of telling people the real reason why I choose not to participate in certain activities or actions, I let them assume other reasons, or even use other reasons why I choose not to do those things that, while still true, aren’t the Biblical reason.
I need to learn from Peter and be ready to follow Jesus wherever He leads and then consequently keep my convictions. I need to use God’s reality in my everyday life rather than the earthly one.
Are we deeply wounding our cause by our failure to maintain convictions? Maybe even by our inaction? Maybe because we are discouraged by the reality of this world?
We must leave our comfortable ships and step out in faith. We must recognize our weaknesses, not hide behind them, and then recognize the power of God.
“Peter had to leave the ship and risk his life on the sea, in order to learn both his own weakness and the almighty power of his Lord.”
Peter still accomplished much for the Lord and loved Him enough to die for Him. But not before escaping a troubled sea and sinking before he could rise again on the Lord’s strength. He needed to realize that he could not have peace in this world and peace with God at the same time.
“We want the Bible to be applicable to our lives; to tell us how to be good Christians, and at the same time still try to squeeze everything we can out of this life. But our job is to make our lives relevant to the Bible, not try to make the Bible relevant to our already existing lives. Making ourselves relevant to God is what changes our lives, not making God relevant to us.”