(Repost from July 10, 2009. )
In verse 17, Peter gets praised. In verse 22, Peter gets scolded. In verse 17, Peter is on the mountaintop. Forget it. He IS the mountaintop. In verse 22, he’s in the depths. Forget it. He IS the depths.
Matthew 16:13-23 should comfort and encourage you, dear completely human friend of mine. In verse 18, Jesus makes it clear to Peter that he has been listening to God. In verse 23, Jesus makes it clear that Peter has been listening to satan.
How is that comforting?
Because it may be that our wisest times and our stupidest times come when we make choices about who we are listening to. When Peter was tuned in to God, he had discernment far beyond his own capacity. He was able to move beyond all the other voices, all the other explanations for who Jesus was. He was able to see the truth. Because God showed it.
On the other hand, when Peter was tuned into what made sense, into impression management, into good public relations, he had obtuseness that could only come from a master distractor.
Jesus began to talk about his death. He began to talk about resurrection. He began to talk about what would give the gospel its incredible power, what would actually give hope to death. He began to talk about what would mark the end of his enemy’s unbridled empire. And at that moment, Peter started to change the plan. He couldn’t see the truth.
As we look at our lives as followers of Jesus, we see that same sense of spiritual whiplash. We get it, and then we don’t. I think we must learn to listen well.
Oh yes. One more comforting thought. Jesus scolded Peter, but he didn’t cancel the blessing. That, dear friends is good news to those who need to hear it.