I can relate to poor ol’ Peter in the Bible. He means well but has a tendency of putting his foot in his mouth at all the wrong times. I think I relate to him because I see so many of us “regular folk” in his methods and in his heart. He loves Jesus, he knows Jesus is the Messiah, he anticipates all the great things that are being done through Jesus; but when Jesus tells him something that doesn’t fit into his picture of what God is supposed to do, Peter actually pulls Him aside and rebukes Him! (Mark 8:31-32).
Can you imagine hearing God say one thing and then you pull Him to the side and chew Him out saying, “You can’t say that and you can’t do that, if you do it will ruin everything we have worked for!” Well, this is basically what Peter did; and I am willing to bet this is something we have all probably been guilty of doing at some point in our lives. I mean, seriously, God’s methods are not typically the way we would do things.
This doubt is so serious to God that Jesus rebukes Peter in front of everyone and says, “Get behind me Satan” (Mark 8:33a)! There is nothing subtle or gentle about this. Jesus tells Peter that he (Peter) does not, “have in mind the things of God, but the things of men” (8:33b). Like most of us, Peter struggles with God’s methods. Our ways are based upon what we know, what we experience, and what we predict; for those reasons, our ways are not perfect.
But God knows all things, His experience is immeasurable, and His insight is perfect. And so God’s way—even if we don’t understand—is always perfect. We will struggle with this, it’s just a part of maturing in our walk with God but we must not ignore it or think it just a “natural” part of spiritual growth with little consequence in our lives today.
In Mark chapter 11 we find the story of the “Triumphal Entry.” This is Jesus’ coming into Jerusalem on a donkey where “Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest” (Mark 11:8-10).
These people were excited to receive Jesus as their king and their savior and as their hope during this hard time in Jewish history. They wanted God to help them, they cried out to Jesus, “Hosanna!” But they expected God to fulfill this in a certain way. Anything else would threaten all they had worked for. And when they later began to realize that this Jesus was not going to do things the way they wanted them done, their chants changed and became something else entirely.
Only four days later, Mark records the dialogue between Pilate and the Jews concerning the same Jesus they had once tried to receive as king:
“What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.
“Crucify him!” they shouted.
“Why? What crime has he committed?” Pilate asked.
But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” (Mark 15:12-14 NIV).
If we refuse to concede that we are the creation and He is the Creator, then we will always find ourselves conflicting with God. If we do not intentionally put aside our pride and seek Him in humility, then we are likely to find ourselves pulling God to the side and trying to correct Him. This seems silly when you say it that way but we may be guilty of doing this more often than we think and if it persists we may one day find ourselves changing our chant from “Hosanna!” to “Crucify Him!”
As we enter into Holy Week, let us remember that everything God has ever done has been out of His love for us and out of His perfect will. Let that thought comfort us and encourage us to trust Him all the more when He does what He does in our lives.
Please come join us as we fix our eyes on Jesus. We meet at 9 a.m. Sundays for Sunday school and at 10 a.m. for worship. Everyone is welcome!