Peter’s Great Mistake
by Robby Higginbottom
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then He strictly charged the disciples to 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 on the third day be raised. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But He turned and said to Peter, “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.”
Have you ever had an amazing day and a terrible day—all in the same day? Imagine getting a new car and then having an accident on the way home. Or acing one test only to bomb another. How would Peter remember the day he confessed that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16)? It was the day when Jesus said, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah!” And it was the day when Jesus said, “Get behind me, Satan!” Peter learned that we can be right about Jesus, and still be wrong. We can make a sound profession and still oppose Jesus’ plans. Even after the Lord opens our eyes to see Jesus for who He is, the renewing of our minds remains a lifelong journey.
After this rollercoaster of a day, it seems that one line stuck with Peter. Jesus said to him, “For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Matthew 16:23). Like a younger Peter, our minds are often fixed on something other than the Lord. From time to time, our passion comes out in the same ready-FIRE-aim style that we see in Peter’s life. But after years of growth, Peter invites us to cultivate a prepared mind, a sober mind, and a mind oriented toward the hope of Jesus Christ’s return (1 Peter 1:13). That mindset is the opposite of the rash, hasty, shoot-from-the-hip Peter that we see in the Gospels. Here is an older man who grasps the significance of setting one’s mind on the things of God. None of us drifts into a renewed mind by accident. Peter and Paul both highlight the struggle, empowered by the grace of God, to set our minds on the Lord.
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” Romans 8:5
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…” Romans 12:2
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
As we journey together as the people of God, where are we setting our minds? Do we realize all that Jesus Christ has given us through His life, death, and resurrection? We rejoice in His forgiveness and grace, but do we revel in the gift of a new mind? “We have the mind of Christ,” Paul writes (1 Corinthians 2:16). But how do we prepare our minds for action? Peter issues the invitation: “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Peter 2:2). At the center of our mind’s renewal is the Word of God. Have we tasted that the Lord is good? If so, that holy hunger should keep us feasting on the Word that reveals our Savior and renews our minds. By God’s grace, what will do today to set our minds on Him?
About the Author
Assistant Pastor of College Ministry
Park Cities Presbyterian Church
Robby Higginbottom was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. As early as high school, he sensed the Lord calling him to pastoral ministry. Robby is a graduate of Highland Park High School, Duke University, and Redeemer Seminary. Through the years, he has worked with high school students, college students, and young adults at PCPC. Robby currently serves as an assistant pastor. He is married to Ann, and they have two children: Will and John Harper.