From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!" Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men." -Matthew 16:21-23
Whenever I think of people in the Bible who sometimes said the wrong thing at the wrong time, I naturally think of Simon Peter. He was a disciple with a good heart and good intentions, but in others ways he was like the proverbial bull in a china shop. Imagine Jesus explaining to the disciples how that He was going to be crucified on the cross for the sins of the world, and that He would be raised to life on the third day. And then imagine Peter taking Him aside and rebuking Him for such talk. Jesus spoke as bluntly as He ever had with anyone: “Get behind me Satan!” I don’t know how you read that passage, but I cringe every time.
I should not be too hard on Peter; after all, I have stuck my foot in my own mouth plenty of times. The Lord has gently led me in one direction, but I went and did what I thought was right, which was always a mistake. The Lord has given me an example of grace and humility, but I have flown off the handle and said things that I later regretted. Jesus has commanded that we love our enemies and pray for them, but I have harbored vengeful and angry feelings in my heart. Honestly, when I think about it, I have more in common with Peter than I’d like to admit.
Fortunately for us, however, the Lord is always faithful. Christ is always willing to forgive us and lead us back onto the right path. Even with all Peter’s faults and flaws, Jesus still forgave him and saw in him great potential. I believe that the Lord does the same with us; He looks past our flaws and sees potential in us that neither we nor anyone else may see. Do not be discouraged if you have made some mistakes, gotten off track, said some unfortunate words, or behaved in a manner that was anything but Christ-like. The Lord is quick to forgive us.
Remember another follower of Jesus who made some gaffs along the way. As I recall, that disciple came to be one of the most faithful, outspoken, and dedicated believers the Christian faith has ever known. The troubled soul can find comfort in knowing that the Lord loves us – and He isn’t finished with us yet.
Be faithful, keep moving forward, and keep looking to Jesus.