Split Personality

by Shan Reed

Today’s reading (Matthew 16-25)  is a huge chunk with a lot going on. I didn’t get too far into the reading before I frantically started taking notes. As I read and thought about what to blog about, God kept bringing chapter 16 verses 13-23 to mind, so that is where my focus will be.

I have been in Colorado this week. One of the perks of being a missionary is getting to travel! (This is also one of the bummers sometimes.) As a child my family traveled to Colorado several times, and then some of my relatives moved there providing even more reason to travel here.

A place in Colorado I love, but haven’t visited for many years, is Garden of the Gods. This area in the foothills of the Rockies boasts some absolutely amazing rock formations. This week when I visited after a long hiatus, I was struck, again, by God’s creativity.

shan2As I stood in a crevice looking up I felt a bit like I think Peter might have felt in this passage. In verses 13-20 we find one of the most heart-felt confessions of who Jesus is in the gospels. I can imagine Peter standing in the middle of the disciples, excited by the questions Jesus is asking.

“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

Peter jumps up with his answer, a bit like my second graders used to do when they knew the answer and wanted to say it before anyone else could.

Then the more important question:

“But who do you say that I am?”

I see Peter still standing but answering more reverently, with the awe that we had the first time we were asked as young Christians and got to answer:

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Ah, Peter, I feel your passion!

The gospel writers usually do not give us specific timelines, like “Three days later…” and Matthew is no different. He begins verse 21 with “From that time.” When I read that I think that after Peter’s confession, for quite some time, Jesus explained as often as He could that He was going to go to Jerusalem and suffer many things.

After listening to this for quite some time, our passionate Peter speaks again. He cannot hold his tongue any longer, Jesus must quit scaring them, must quit this negative talk.

And, here is where we find Peter in the crevice looking up at the top of the rock where he just was standing a couple of verses ago. To his surprise, in response to his rebuking Jesus, Peter is rebuked. Just moments ago he had been basking in Christ’s approval, now he was wedged at the bottom of the crevice wondering what had just happened.

Jesus’ words speak to me, too.

I spend time basking in my Savior’s love and approval, when I understand who He is, the Christ, Son of the living God. And, then suddenly, I am at the bottom of the crevice hearing His gentle yet stern voice, “Shan, you are not setting your mind on the things of God but on the things of man.”

When you find yourself at the bottom of that crevice, where do you turn?

Where do you look for help?

Do you look up and see the blue sky and the sunshine and reach out for your Savior’s loving and forgiving nail-scarred hand?