Putting your foot in your mouth…
Does it ruin your future, or is it another step in your spiritual growth?
Poor Peter! It seems like he was always putting his mouth in gear before he could engage his brain!
When Jesus was in the middle of a pressing crowd, the woman with the issue of blood touched his garment. Jesus asked, “Who touched me?” Peter was among those that mocked Jesus. It seemed to him like a ridiculous question when there was such a pressing crowd (Luke 8:43-45). But the woman who touched his garment came forward, acknowledging that she had touched him and had experienced instant healing. Peter was ashamed.
When Jesus talked with Moses and Elijah in the Transfiguration in front of Peter, James, and John, Peter came up with a brilliant idea. Let’s make three tabernacles for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah each. The Scripture says he didn’t know what he said. Then God, the Father, intervened with His voice out of heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son. Hear Him.” Can you imagine Peter’s embarrassment as God corrected him directly from heaven? (Luke 9:28-36).
When Jesus predicted his death and resurrection in Matthew 16, Peter rebuked Jesus, saying, “Be it far from thee, Lord.” Jesus, in turn, sternly rebuked Peter with, “Get thee behind me, Satan.” Did Peter still think he was right?
In Matthew 26, in his pride, Peter stated that though all might be offended because of Christ, he would never be offended. Jesus countered by telling him that Peter would deny Christ three times before the night was over.
How could God use a guy like that?
But wait! That’s only the negative side.
Early on, as Peter started following Christ, Peter had fished all night and caught nothing. Jesus came along and told him to “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught (Luke 5:4). Peter explained that they had fished all night and caught nothing, but said that, at Jesus’ word, they would cast the net again – and they immediately caught a multitude of fish. That very day, when they had brought their ship to land, Peter, James, and John forsook all and followed Jesus.
Jesus knew what Peter was like, yet chose him first for one of the twelve apostles (Luke 6:12-16).
A storm came up at night when the disciples (experienced fishermen) were crossing the Sea of Galilee. They were frightened. The waves were tossing the ship, and the wind was contrary. They became more frightened when they saw a ghost coming to them, walking on the water. Jesus assured them that it was he. Don’t be afraid. Then, Peter asked the Lord, if that is really you, bid me to come to you on the water. Jesus said, “Come.” And Peter stepped out of the boat and walked on the water, going to Jesus. For a moment, he was in his glory as he thought, “I’m actually walking on top of the water.” But then he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the high waves driven by the boisterous wind. He began to sink and desperately cried, “Lord, save me!” Jesus caught him, saved him, and said, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”
Some preachers criticize Peter because of this rebuke from the Lord. But remember, NONE of the other disciples asked if they could walk to Jesus. Only Peter stepped out of the boat onto the water. He demonstrated greater faith than all the other disciples. Then, after a few steps out onto the water, he looked at the wind-driven waves instead of Jesus. That mistake caused him to sink.
Later Jesus asked the disciples, Who do you say that I am? Peter was the first to respond, saying, “Thou are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:16), and Jesus commended him.
After Jesus’ resurrection at a seaside fishery, Jesus took Peter aside to talk with him. He asked Peter three times if he loved Jesus. Peter answered yes each time. He had denied Jesus three times. Jesus secured his affirmation of love three times. Then Jesus prophesied about the death of Peter. He urged Peter not to be concerned about God’s plan for the other disciples but to focus on following Jesus. Through this conversation, Jesus assured Peter that He had forgiven him. Now Peter could follow God’s calling for the future. God produced spiritual growth through failure.
Later Peter became the first leader of the Jerusalem church in Acts 1. He fearlessly preached the gospel in Acts 2, resulting in 3,000 accepting Christ. Peter boldly confronted the opposition in Acts 3 & 4. He opened the gospel door to the Gentiles in Acts 10. God used him to write 1 and 2 Peter, the great guidelines to Christians concerning suffering, false teaching, and living in light of His Second Coming.
A person might have thought that with all of Peter’s failures and “foot-in-mouth” experiences, how could God ever use him? Every time Peter failed, he got up again, renewed his commitment to Jesus, and continued. Jesus expressed his prayer for Peter in Luke 22:31-32. “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
In our human weakness, we might have given up on Peter. Because we have similar problems today, we sometimes are ready to give up on ourselves. But Jesus doesn’t. Satan may sift us as wheat. But as Jesus prayed for Peter, He also intercedes for us. When we fall, Jesus lifts us. He takes our failures like Peter’s, picks us up, and uses that failure as a life lesson to motivate us to spiritual growth.
Don’t give up. God is not finished with you yet. He will keep you, enable you, and strengthen you until the day He takes you home, or He comes in the rapture.