As you are aware, in any sermon or teaching there is always more material, more texts, than can fit into the time allotted, and if talked about, dulls the point being made. In today’s blog, I want to look at some of this material about Peter that wasn’t talked about in Sunday’s sermon. I have been showing that Peter is in a process by which Jesus is transforming him into a more accurate reflection of who Jesus is. This is what spiritual formation is about. It is how the Holy Spirit forms Christ in us. This process is what this Peter series is about.
I have talked about how Peter was willing to follow Jesus, to try, to fail, to try again. And how Peter came to the point of being broken. He could no longer hold onto the view of himself as fearless and willing to die for Jesus. He denied knowing Jesus to save his own life. Being broken is a crucial part of formation.
Often we live ours lives trying to avoid the very thing God is doing. We don’t like to do hard things—a hard thing is something we won’t do right the first time, otherwise it would be an easy thing. But God uses failure, brokenness, weakness and suffering to form Christ in us. When we avoid these things, we actually resist what God is doing. Look at Jesus’ life. He was broken, He suffered, He looked weak, He looked like a failure. If we are becoming like Jesus, won’t we also look weak, look like failures, be broken, and suffer?
Often what we want is to be like the Jesus who raises the dead, conquers enemies, is raised in glory, rules the universe. The book of Revelation makes clear that Jesus was worthy to open the scroll and to rule as king, because He was the lamb who was slain. He was worthy because He suffered and was broken. Because He laid His own life down for others.
In the following passages, we get a fuller view of the ways that Peter tried and failed.
Pete on politics…
Matt. 17:24 “On their arrival in Capernaum, the collectors of the Temple tax came to Peter and asked him, ‘Doesn’t your teacher pay the Temple tax?’25 ‘Yes, he does,’ Peter replied. Then he went into the house. But before he had a chance to speak, Jesus asked him, ‘What do you think, Peter? Do kings tax their own people or the people they have conquered?’26 ‘They tax the people they have conquered,’ Peter replied. ‘Well, then,’ Jesus said, ‘the citizens are free!’”
Pete wanting an out…
Matt. 18:21 “Then Peter came to him and asked, ‘Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?’
Pete wants his payday…
Matt. 19:27 “Then Peter said to him, ‘We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?’”
And he still isn’t quite there…
Luke 9:33 “As Moses and Elijah were starting to leave, Peter, not even knowing what he was saying, blurted out, ‘Master, it’s wonderful for us to be here! Let’s make three shelters as memorials—one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’”
Peter’s pride is still in the game. He wants to singled out…
Luke 12:41”Peter asked, ‘Lord, is that illustration just for us or for everyone?’”
Pete unclear on the urgency…
Matt. 26:37 “He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed.38 He told them, ‘My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’
39 He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, ‘My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.’
40 Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, ‘Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour?’”
Pete still has his pride…
John 13:6 “When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’
8 ‘No,’ Peter protested, ‘you will never ever wash my feet!’
Jesus replied, ‘Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.’
9 Simon Peter exclaimed, ‘Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!’”
Pete must have missed something…
John 13:24 “Simon Peter motioned to him to ask, ‘Who’s he talking about?’
25 So that disciple leaned over to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, who is it?’
26 Jesus responded, ‘It is the one to whom I give the bread I dip in the bowl.’ And when he had dipped it, he gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot.”
Take some time to find these passages in your bible and read them in context. Get more of the picture.
In your own life, how would you have responded if you were Peter, saying and doing these things? Would you have given up? Would you have worked harder so you would do better the next time? Would your pride still be in the game, keeping you from reaching the point of utter failure?
When we come to the end of what we are able to do on our own, or in our own strength, is when the Holy Spirit can begin the rebuilding process to form Christ in us. As long as we are still operating in our abilities, the Lord will wait. God doesn’t often want to build Christ on top of our abilities; it is a weak foundation. Our self-identity has to come to an end. Only then will God begin to construct our lives to reflect Jesus. Until we come to our end, we aren’t yet at the place where we can say with Paul in Galatians 2:20 “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer Iwho live, but Christ lives in me. So Ilive in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”