We Are Never As Good Or As Bad As We Think

'Lost and Found' by Greg Olsen. Used with Permission. http://www.GregOlsen.com
“Lost and Found” by Greg Olsen. Used with Permission. http://www.GregOlsen.com

November 20, 2022

August 4, 2022

Matthew 16:13-23

Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
and he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;
and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Then he strictly ordered his disciples
to tell no one that he was the Christ.

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples
that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly
from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be killed and on the third day be raised.
Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him,
“God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.”
He turned and said to Peter,
“Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me.
You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

When I was just a young lad growing up on our farm in East Texas my dad was constantly teaching us lessons. We didn’t know at the times they would be lessons to guide us later in life – but they were.

I remember, when I did something well, he would praise me and for a son who worshiped his father – well, that meant everything. I would almost float around.

Oh, if it but ended there.

You see, I could, and usually would, moments later mess up and while it was great to receive his praise – it could be devastating to receive his rebuke.

I thought because he praised me that I was better than I was. At the same time, I thought when he rebuked me, I was bad.

We are never as good as we think ourselves nor or we as bad as we believe.

Peter experiences this today. How better to share this lesson with those who will follow than to illustrate Peter’s experiences in this Gospel?

When Jesus asks the Apostles what the people think of him, they say he is thought of much like the prophets of old – and even John the Baptist.

While gratifying, Jesus wants to know what these men think – those who have been with him, experienced his ministry, seen his works. “Who do you say that I am?”

Peter nails it. He recognizes Jesus as the Son of the Living God – no one has said this yet. Jesus must have believed that everything was going according to plan. These men were truly understanding. He praises Peter and much like myself when my dad praised me, Peter must have been floating on air.

Oh, if it but ended there.

Later, Jesus is sharing what is going to happen in Jerusalem – he will have to suffer and be killed and rise again on the third day. Jesus doesn’t want to die. He is just as human and the rest of us. He is struggling with this idea and does up until Gethsemane.

Peter, wanting to protect Jesus, steps up and says God Forbid. He rebukes Jesus for what he is saying. Jesus knows what he is doing but he also knows he must die for the expiation of our sins – to reconcile us to the Father. Peter saying what he is saying makes this much more difficult to accept.

Jesus must rebuke Peter for the Apostles to understand all this must happen to complete his mission.

Peter wasn’t as good as he believed when Jesus praised him nor was he as bad as Peter must have believed himself when Jesus rebuked him.

There was a lesson to be learned – whether on the road to Jerusalem or 2000 years later working a farm in East Texas.

What do we take away from this? Stop putting pressure on ourselves to be perfect. Peter was the “Rock upon which I build my Church” and he wasn’t perfect. We strive to be our best recognizing our brokenness.

We are never as good as we believe, nor are we as bad as we believe.

At least that’s what I heard Him say…


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