Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” –Matthew 16:16/NIV
Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” –Matthew 16:23/NIV
Years ago my father’s college roommate and colleague, and a spiritual uncle to me, Glenn Owen, preached a sermon on Peter, The Apostle With The Foot Shaped Mouth. In the first scene of Matthew 16, he declared Christ’s identity as God. In the second scene, he means well, but lets a bad seed thought out of his mouth. Christ had just told him He, Christ would go through unspeakable trials, be killed but would be raised on the third day. Peter pipes up, “Never”! This is not who he saw Christ to be. But Christ recognized it was no longer Peter speaking but for a brief moment, God’s enemy himself.
Very few Biblical heroes are mentioned that didn’t allow the same to happen. I can think of Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Joseph, Ruth and Ester. There are a few more, but most had to wrestle with God on some level, root out whatever was keeping them from entering fully into God’s plan and then went on to do their work. Truth be told, there may have been something with the above heroes God chose to not reveal.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…–Romans 3:23/NIV
But God is in the business of reboots. Not just the kind computers do when they aren’t working correctly and one has to shut it down for a brief rest and internal realignment of sorts before the computer gets back up and running; God is about booting his enemy out as often as we ask.
Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. –Matthew 4:11/NIV
God honors the obedient, His children when we’re in a pinch, and sanctifies or draws us closer to Him and makes us more like Him in the process.
What if Peter had walked in his confession? I don’t know how it would have played out. Maybe he would have been silent. Possibly mourned a bit. Had he jumped to the end of the story, maybe he would have thrown his fist in the air with joy. But as is the popular phrase, one cannot have a testimony without a test. And Peter in the end had a great testimony, and it was about Christ Himself.
Christ released Peter from his chains of self-imprisonment after his denying Christ three times. Christ is whom Peter confessed, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. This is a confession all make at their baptisms. It is still true. The confession cannot be added to or taken away, but it can be further described. What does it mean that Christ is Messiah, the Son of the Living God?
The whole Bible speaks of this confession, but so far on my journey on planet earth, the description is inexhaustible: He is the lifter of our heads; He restores joy after heartbreak; He is about the business of reconciling relationships; He is the head of His Fellowship and knows His sheep; He forgives and forgets as far as the east is from the west-though leaves us with wonderful lessons if we will have it; He still heals; He still speaks through dreams, others and His Creation-and Scripture speaks to it all and will confirm all;
His righteous teachers everywhere; He shuts the mouth of the liar; He is our best friend; He heals minds, bodies, psyches, emotions, spirits, souls and so much more as we are open; He knows our intents and helps us by filling in the gaps where the outcome was lacking; He is our strength in weakness; laughter in mourning; love when feeling pressed; He is the Head of His Family; He created and loves all humankind and all are redeemable; He celebrates with us in our victories great and small; He lifts us up when we stumble in the race; He helps us finish our small races here and the Big One in time; He is Truth and came to bring us into All Truth-eternal and temporal; He removes our chains, shoulders our burdens and lightens our loads; In the end He Is The Beginning and The End, The Alpha and Omega, The Genesis to Revelation, The Law of Love, The Fruit of the Spirit. Christ is all Good because He Is All God.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. –James 1:17/NIV
And when we need it, we get a reboot, a clean slate, a do over as He tells His enemy to get behind Him and leave when we ask and are obedient, for He Is faithful.