John 18:9-11

I’m a bit embarrassed to admit how much I can relate to the Apostle Peter. I’m not talking about post-resurrection, bold, Spirit-filled Peter; I’m talking about pre-resurrection, foot-in-the-mouth, charting my own course Peter. One of my favorite stories about Peter was when Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” After some discussion, Peter boldly answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). However, in the story following that bold and faithful declaration, Jesus told Peter he was going to die, and Peter took Jesus aside and rebuked him and said, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you” (Matthew 16:22). It was in response to that statement that Jesus said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Matthew 16:23). There are so many times when Peter gets it so right, and then there are times when he gets it so wrong.

I think Jesus absolutely nailed what was going on in Peter’s heart. He didn’t have in mind the things of God but of man. That was the core issue. That was the same core issue that Peter faced on the night Jesus was betrayed. Jesus knew the plan was that he would die for the sins of the world, but Peter still wanted to put up a fight. In fact, he drew his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant. I can relate to Peter’s plight. It’s hard to surrender control to God. It’s hard to trust God. It’s hard to drop our defenses, especially when we’re not sure if we like the story God is writing. It’s hard to remember the things of God, rather than the things that benefit me.

Maybe there’s a connection between Peter resisting the plan of God and taking action into his own hands, and his inability to stay awake to pray. Remember, Peter fell asleep when Jesus asked him to stay awake and pray for him. I have to wonder, if Peter had stayed awake in prayer, would he have been more awake to the story God was telling? Would he have had the ability to put his sword away if he had bowed his knee and come before the throne? See, prayer is one of the practices that helps open our hearts to trust God with our deepest pain. It helps align our hearts with the will and plan of God. It gives us the Spirit-driven ability to have in mind the things of God, rather than the things of men. We don’t feel like we have to solve it if we know that God rules over it.

Take some time today and try to identify places in your life that you relate to Peter. What are some of the places you want to fight for your own way rather than surrendering to his will? How might you have in mind the things of men and not the things of God? Then, take some time and surrender those places to God in prayer.

Pastor Ryan Paulson

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