From Mountain Top to Failure

John Hill

"And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”  And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.”  And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?”  Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.”  And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.  And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.  And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.  But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”  Mark 8:27-33

You know what I hate?  I hate it when I have a “mountain top” experience one moment, only to crash land from that same mountain a moment later.

For Peter, this phenomenon was a regular experience.  He lived on the highest highs and experienced some of the deepest valleys.  Ironically, the text above describes a mountain top failure for Peter just before Mark records Peter’s greatest moment in the very next chapter (the Transfiguration, which happened on a high mountain).

In this case, Peter makes the greatest proclamation anyone could every make when he declares that Jesus is, “the Messiah.”  But then, not four verses later he is told by Jesus to, “Get behind me, Satan!”

What brings on these terrific swings from masterful and inspired insight to clumsy and defeated talk?  I wish I knew!

Here’s what I do know: Peter pressed on.  He didn’t give up.  As was stated, even in his greatest failure to that point, Peter was moments from seeing Jesus like he had never seen before.  The same Messiah that he just proclaimed was now glorified and lifted up before his very eyes.  He was so dumbstruck that all Peter could muster to say was, “It is good for us to be here.”

And if Peter had given up after being scolded by Jesus in Chapter 8 of Mark’s gospel, he would have missed the next great thing that God had in store for him in Chapter 9.

You see, God isn’t expecting perfection from us, only endurance.  He expects us to stick with Him and His plan and, by faith, trust His direction for our lives.  A direction that is often the most challenged immediately following inspirational encounters with Him, or even successes in life.

So, with Easter behind us, what test are you facing in your relationship with God?  How do you intend to overcome it?  Maybe the answer is to discipline yourself to wait for what God will do next; to expect that there is another victory coming if you will persevere.  For many, it is all too easy to give up on God once the high religious season of Easter is complete and to forget all the commitments that were made.

As Jesus said to Peter, “You are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

Let’s resolve together to keep our eyes fixed on the One Who paid it all.  Don’t fall into the temptation to skip church this weekend, or your small group.  Don’t take a vacation from your quiet time.  Don’t stop praying for your Top 10 list and see what God will do even after Easter.  You never know, you may end up on a new high mountain with God.

One thing is certain: the righteous are not the ones who never fall; but the ones who, when they fall, get back up.


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