Out of the same spring

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 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. 18 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.19 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.”  Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ.

21 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. 22 Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.”23 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 16:17-23

It seems to be in the nature of Peter that he was capable of being the very best and the very worst of men at the flick of a switch.  He walked out on the water in an unsurpassed show of faith one minute and then begins to doubt and sinks the next.  He professes that he will go to prison and death with Jesus and then soon after denies Him.  In the above passage he gets a revelation from God that Jesus says He will build His church on, and then goes on to try and prevent God working out His purposes by looking at things from a very human viewpoint.

James asks the question: “Can a spring produce both salt water and fresh?” (James 3:11).  He goes on to say that a salt spring cannot produce fresh water.  However, to take the analogy further, the Christian life seems to indicate that those who have the fresh springs of the Spirit in them are still capable of producing bitter waters at times.  Or at least Peter did in the above passage.  [Some people argue that that was before Pentecost – or even before Jesus breathed on him and the other disciples saying to receive the Holy Spirit but I don’t see that changing much in Peter’s life after Pentecost (e.g. see Galatians 2:11-14).]

So it seems we are all capable of doing this especially if we have the sudden, mercurial temperament of a Peter.  We can all say something completely in keeping with God’s will one minute and then, maybe in the same sentences, say something that in no way reflects His purposes.  It is to be noticed that, in the passage above, Peter is most wrong when he is saying something that seems most reasonable and loving from a human point of view.

As the hymn writer says: “I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ Name.”

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