February 13, 2012

Foot in Mouth Disorder

Did you know that the disciple Peter was a loud mouth?

When I went to church recently, the guest pastor announced that he was going to give a sermon about Peter. I'm not going to lie, my prideful, stupid self went, "Oh my gosh, I've heard so much about Peter, I love him but I'm very sick of him." I knew he was stubborn, and proud, as are most of us. But I didn't realize that he had a serious and noticeable problem of "answering" when there was no question being asked of him at all! Let me demonstrate to you his constant foot-in-mouth disorder:

"When the disciples saw [Jesus] walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, 'Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.' Peter said to Him, 'Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.' And He said, 'Come!' And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, 'Lord, save me!' Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, 'You of little faith, why did you doubt?'" Matthew 14:26-31

You'd think at this point Peter went, "Oh jeez. I've made such a fool of myself. I'll never say anything again!" But look, he does it again in just the next chapter!

"Peter said to Him, 'Explain the parable to us.' Jesus said, 'Are you still lacking in understanding also?'" Matthew 15:15-16

Jesus probably didn't say that in a condescending way, but you can imagine Peter might have heard it like this: "You still don't get it, you stupid man?!" and went "Okay, I'm REALLY never going to open this mouth again." Let's look at chapter 16 of Matthew.

"Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, 'Who do people say that the Son of Man is?' And they said, 'Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.' He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' And Jesus said to him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven." Matthew 16:13-19

Finally Peter says something good! But he must have gotten kind of bigheaded about what Jesus said to him, because it wasn't long before he was literally telling Jesus that Jesus - the Messiah and Son of the living God - was WRONG about something.

"From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, 'God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.' But He turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.' Matthew 16:21-23

Can you imagine being called the devil? By JESUS? That had to be the most tragic reprimand in the world! You can bet that Peter went, "Okay, I'm really, REALLY never going to say anything again." ...Next chapter.

Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Peter said to Jesus, 'Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.' While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, 'This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!'" Matthew 17:1-5

The pastor that spoke about this to my church suggested that when Jesus had called only three disciples onto this special mission, Peter once again got a big head and assumed that he was super important... and of course, he opens his mouth and says the stupidest thing! Why did he have to say anything in the first place!? Look at the text - God intervened here WHILE Peter was still speaking, and said, "listen to Him!" Essentially, the God of everything INTERRUPTED Peter's babbling and went, "Shut up, Peter!" Can you imagine? You can bet that Peter was thinking, "I'm so dumb! I can't believe I just said that! No more talking for me!" 

But take a look at Matthew 26:31-34, 69-75, and Mark 16:1-7. Peter opened his mouth again, proved himself wrong by denying the Person he had called the Messiah and Son of the Living God, and wept bitterly. He must have been absolutely shattered that he had denied his allegiance to Jesus and the Lord's death. But the incredible thing is Jesus knew it and addressed Peter specifically. When the Lord had risen from the dead, he told the women to go tell the disciples, "and Peter", that He would be going to Galilee ahead of them, and they would see him there. He pointed out Peter specifically. He knew Peter was hurting in a very deep way. And if you've read Acts, you know what Peter went on to do. He prophesied. He raised dead men up. He healed the lame. He brought an incredible amount of people to Christ. He became the rock of the church.

But first, he was a loudmouth. The whole point of this post is to say - there is hope for us! God will forgive us over and over again. He cares for us and knows our hearts and our hurts. and He can take our worst weaknesses, the things that make us so obnoxious, and turn it around for His glory. If there is hope for Peter, there is definitely hope for us.


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