Lesson Three- Foot In Mouth Syndrome
Welcome back class. I hope you spent time this week dealing with God. I hope you realized how Peter was not that different from you and me. He was an average man who had a heart for God. God blessed Simon Peter’s heart. Today we are going to be a little more critical on Peter, especially concerning the things that Peter says. Peter had a tendency to speak without thinking. I have been guilty of this, myself. So we will look at some of the instances where this happens in the Gospels.
The First passage we will be looking at is Mat. 17:1-13: Six days later Jesus *took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and *led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.” And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone. As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.” And His disciples asked Him, “Why then do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” And He answered and said, “Elijah is coming and will restore all things; but I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John the Baptist.
(Mat 17:1-13 NASB)
Peter, I am sure, was well-intended; he was full of good-will. But his zeal overpowered his discernment. Peter was excited! He speaks first and for the other disciples when he says, “it is good for us to be here.” Peter was enjoying the company of Moses and Elijah. Then out of his sanguine temperament, he speaks without first thinking. “, I will make three tabernacles” (one for Jesus, another for Moses, and another for Elijah.)
God himself responds to Peter’s comment! Think in your own life, have you ever heard a response directly from God? (If you have, I would love to hear about it.) Peter shows his ignorance despite his loyalty and willingness to serve, gets this one wrong. God, himself comes in the form of a bright, overshadowing cloud and in a loud voice to correct Peter’s doctrine.
John Henry points out that this bright cloud is different from the dark clouds God would dwell in during the Deuteronomic history24, when was displaying judgment upon his people. Instead this bright cloud reflects light, love, and liberty. God is proud of His Son, Jesus, who is light, life, love, and liberty.
Anyone want to explain to me first off what Peter gets wrong and second how or why Peter gets it wrong? (we have scratched the surface a little bit here.) Right, good job ______, Peter is wrong in putting two men upon the same foot with Christ25. God himself vindicated the rights of His Son. Peter was excited and ignorant, correct. Peter did not think before he spoke.
Peter had a habit of doing this. He spoke up before the other disciples; many times he spoke for the others. Sometimes he got things correct, but other times he gets it wrong.
Let’s go back to the Mat. 16:13-23 passage we spent the past few weeks in:
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He *said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ. From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”
(Mat 16:13-23 NASB)
Jesus addresses all the disciples with a question, “Who do you say that I am?” Simon responds, while the others sit there confused. Simon gets the initial question correct, ‘You are the Christ, Son of the Living God!” but just a few verses later Jesus rebukes Peter saying, “”Get behind Me, Satan!” Peter holds divine knowledge in verse 16, then in verse 22, he is full of Satan’s lies! Poor Peter!
When he says, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” We see that he gets a bad case of foot-in the mouth. I cannot even imagine how Peter would have felt…his friend, leader, and Messiah had just cast Satan out of him. In this particular scenario we see similar features in comparison to the transfiguration scene. Peter gets excited. Peter is ignorant, yet loyal and obedient. Peter loves Jesus and does not want to see him die. He misses the point. He misses the significance of Christ’s death. In both cases, Peter is corrected by God himself (this time in the form of Jesus.)
It is interesting that Peter boldly confronts Jesus right after being praised by him. As Henry points out perhaps Peter was a little prideful or elevated after being praised by Christ, therefore he was bolder26. And Jesus saw this and wanted to keep Peter humble. Having Satan casted out of someone, is quite a humbling experience.
What do you think Jesus means by “Satan”? Do you think he means that Peter is his enemy, literary Satan is in Peter, or something else? – Good response. I think Wesley really hit home for me, he says that Peter was acting the very part of Satan by endeavoring to hinder the redemption of mankind. (Whether or not Peter knew that or not is unimportant.) Jesus was pricking the pride from Peter’s puffed up heart.27
Does Jesus reproof other disciples the same manner, sharpness we see him reproofing Peter? If so where? – Good. that is an interesting moment of discipleship, sure, but I don’t think it compares to this moment. This is the sharpest reproof we see to any of his apostles at any time.
Have you recently had a case of foot-in-the mouth as Peter does? -Thanks for sharing.
Before we close this lesson we will examine one more major passage. Turn to John 21:20-25 . Peter turned around and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them. (This was the disciple, who had leaned back against Jesus’ chest at the meal and asked, “Lord, who is the one who is going to betray you?”) So when Peter saw him, he asked Jesus, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus replied, “If I want him to live until I come back, what concern is that of yours? You follow me!” So the saying circulated among the brothers and sisters that this disciple was not going to die. But Jesus did not say to him that he was not going to die, but rather, “If I want him to live until I come back, what concern is that of yours?”
(John 21:20-23 NET.)
Last time we visited this chapter, we saw the amazing Grace of God through Jesus restoring his relationship with Simon Peter. Peter has just been restored, proclaiming that he does love Jesus and now has been challenged by Jesus to “Follow me” and “Feed my sheep.”
I want to examine this last part of the book of John for a couple of reasons. First we see how Peter is beginning to think in a more mature way. Second because we see one key life lesson from Peter. And thirdly this passage has some controversy attached to it.
There a few different theories about this particular passage28. Is Peter jealous of John, “the beloved disciple?” Is Peter having another foot-in-mouth moment by asking “What about him?” Do you love him more? Is he your favorite? Or is Peter genuinely concerned about what will happen to John? Jesus had just told Peter how he will die. Is Peter asking, “What about him?” How will he die? Or maybe Peter is still ignorant and thinking that John will be the one who will betray Jesus. “What about him?” Is he the one who will betray you? The latter theory is further by some scholars due to the fact that John was the only disciple not martyred.
They were good friends and both really close to Jesus. Maybe Peter simply cared about John. I personally think that How is he going to die? theory fits best. If this is the case, then we also see a new maturity level in Peter. He is slowly learning to think before saying something stupid. Nevertheless, if Peter hadn’t learned anything all this time around Jesus and this is a case of foot-in-the-mouth, we have an advantage to learn from him. Assuming that Peter is jealous and maybe even asking Jesus, what about him, is he your favorite? Let’s listen to what Jesus says, “what is that to you?” Do not be concerned about this!
The more I read the verses, the more I lean towards the second theory, because the full context of what Jesus says speaks to John “remaining.” Jesus says, “”If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?” The Greek word for remain is menō29; = continue, remain, abide….to continue living!
Read Mark 14:27-31,66-72
How is this passage different from the ones in this lesson?
Does the fact that Peter’s behavior is predicted by Jesus make it less of a “foot-in-mouth” episode?
Read Jn 13: 1-17 – Wesley says this about what Peter says in verse nine: “How fain would man be wiser than God! Yet this was well meant, though ignorant earnestness.30”
Do you see the similarities when we compare this passage to the other times Peter speaks without thinking? He has passion and zeal. He is obedient, but he is ignorant.
A principle from an anonymous but somewhat famous quote, I take from Peter in this lesson: “A closed mouth gathers no feet.”