Peter, James, and John were with Jesus on the Mt. of Transfiguration when Elijah and Moses appeared and Jesus was for a time transfigured from an earthly form into a supernatural one. True to form though, Peter started to babble, putting a foot into his mouth…when God interrupted him saying, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!” (Matthew 17:5) However, this mountain top experience changed Peter, James, and John forever. They were witnesses to the power and majesty, glory and honor of the Lord Jesus Christ…and this personal knowledge and experience changed who they were and how they shared the Gospel Message from that time on.
No matter how spiritually strong we are, anyone of us can stray from the will of God. Here Simon Peter, nicknamed the Rock, of which Jesus had said, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church,” caved under man’s pressure. Peter had been fellowshipping with Christian Gentiles until a group of Jews showed up and started pressuring him to stop. He was afraid that his reputation and standing might be questioned…fearful of what they might think of him…so he separated himself from the Gentiles…taking everyone with him, including Barnabas. Isaiah 51:12-13 asks this question, “Who are you that you fear mortal men, the sons of men, who are but grass, that you forget the Lord your Maker?” It’s a dangerous slippery slope when we start fearing man rather than God…afraid of what people may think of us rather than doing God’s will. Peer pressure can be tremendous, for we all want to fit in and be liked…but when it causes us to deviate from God’s plan…it effects everyone around us.
The disciples were being tested and challenged in their faith…Jesus was no longer at their side instructing them, and they were now being forced to depend on what they had learned . Even though Jesus had told them to,” stay in Jerusalem and wait for the gift My Father promised.” (Acts 1:4) Simon Peter reverted back to what he knew and felt confident and comfortable in…fishing. We always need to be careful when we go back to things of the past. And we need to be ever questioning our motives for it. Is it out of laziness, or insecurity, or consolation that we revert back to past things? One of my very favorite quotes from Oswald Chambers in his Devotional book, My Utmost for His Highest is, “Beware of paying attention or going back to what you once were, when God wants you to be something that you have never been.”
Just like Jesus, Peter walked on the water. Just like Jesus, Peter’s faith was great enough to keep him afloat. But unlike Jesus, Peter took his eyes off his Savior and onto the situation around him and he began to flounder. When the storm is swirling around you…keep your eyes on Jesus. When fear promises to overwhelm you…keep your eyes on Jesus. For as long as Peter stayed focused on the Lord, he walked above the fray.
There was not a moment of hesitation…not one look of disbelief or word of doubt that came from the brothers when Jesus approached them with His request. Rather, they left all, giving up any claim to their property…turning from everything they knew to follow a stranger. And with that decision, began a journey for them of fellowship, faith, and eternal life.
This Scripture speaks to what is truth, and what is false…it speaks to God’s divinely ordained Word, and the corrupted half-truths that come from the pit of hell. The bottom line for us is…do we want to be filled with the “fruit” of His Word, or the useless stubble left behind?
So why do Believers fall away…even after experiencing the saving grace and mercy of Jesus? Is the pull of the world too strong, or is their confidence in this new-found faith too frail? Has the self-centered human nature triumphed over the newly gained eternal perspective? And why does Peter tell us they are worse off than before they knew Jesus…could it be that they may spend eternity lamenting their decision?