Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” 16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. 18Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock, I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.19And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.” 20Then he sternly warned the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. 21From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day, he would be raised from the dead. 22But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!” 23Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” Matthew 16:15-23 (NLT)
Pause for a second! Were verse 17 and verse 23 spoken to the same person? Yes, they were! Unless there was more that took place in between, Peter had to deal with a tremendously uplifting compliment and then a tremendously humiliating rebuke in a matter of minutes. Man, life has its ups and downs! We all have to learn how to handle praise and criticism properly, success and failure, hopes fulfilled and hopes disappointed, times of abundance and times of drought. This is life. This is the life of all of us imperfect people who seek perfection and all of us incomplete people who seek maturity. This is the life of growing in grace.
Let’s first think about the positives, or the “ups.” We all hope for and work for success, whatever we consider success to be. They say there are three main driving forces in a carnal man’s life- money, power, and sex, and not necessarily in that order. Obviously, the Christian’s idea of success should be much different. What did Peter want? Peter wanted to please Jesus. Peter wanted to be like Jesus. Also, he wanted to be the leader, as did all of the Apostles. In his “up” moment, all his dreams seemed to be coming true.
Jesus seems to be saying that He will build His church on him, give him the keys to the kingdom, and great authority empowered by God! Do you think this blew Peter’s head up just a bit? I certainly think so. That may even be what contributed to his boldness in telling Jesus He was wrong and that he would not let Him die. In fact, it says Peter rebuked Jesus! Such courage! That was a big mistake and the cause of a massive fall! You know what Proverbs says about pride. Pray for success, but also pray you won’t have more success than you are mature enough to handle. Obviously, the more we become like Jesus, the more success, praise, promotion, prosperity, and popularity we can handle. So, let’s grow up!
Let’s also learn from Joseph. God gave him the wisdom to save up during the times of plenty so that he would have enough for the nations during the time of famine. Remember that the “down” days will surely come. If you think faith or positive thinking or positive confession will keep you from the down days, you are in the wrong. Even Jesus had down days; His popularity for instance; His friends all leaving Him alone during His down days, for instance. The “downs” come after the “ups” as sure as the rainy day follows the sunny day. And by the way, before you get too hard on yourself, you are not the only one who sometimes feels like you are taking two steps forward and then one step backward.
The Scriptures tell us these stories for a reason! Let’s pay attention and live with eyes wide open. Let’s grow in wisdom and grace. Which do you feel like you are in today? Are you at a high point or a low point? Whichever you feel, you can know this, Jesus is with you, and He will never forsake you. That’s the kind of friend He is. He will patiently help you grow in grace in the good times and the bad times. The roller coaster called life is never without Divine plans and Divine help. Don’t be discouraged in the valleys and don’t become foolish on the mountain tops. “In everything give thanks,” and “in everything be content,” and soon the wild ride of life will be over, and the joys of glory will be everlasting.