Peter was a minister called of God. He walked by the side of Christ. He shared the Saviour's miracles. He was even chosen to witness His transfiguration. Yet "he spoke without knowing what he was saying" (Luke 9:33, NEB).*
He thought he knew. He was sure he knew. But he did not know.
It was sad and astonishing that Peter really did not know the holiness of his Saviour and his God. He spoke out of his own wisdom. But he did not know it.
Mercifully, the Father closed Peter's mouth. For while "the words were still on his [Peter's] lips," He brought a cloud between Peter and the Saviour and He admonished, "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to Him" (Luke 9:35, NEB).
Peter's concepts were earthborn. Heaven was a long way away. His understandings were lofty by earthly standards. He tended to judge and to preach by them, but his knowledge of heavenly things was thin.
Peter was not alone.
God has had this problem with men down through the ages. And He has been patient. "Long have I lain still, I kept silence and held myself in check" (Isa. 42:14). But He will not remain still forever.
Now I will cry like a woman in labor, whimpering, panting and gasping. I will lay waste mountains and hills and shrivel all their green herbs; I will turn rivers into desert wastes and dry up all the pools (vs. 14).
Some will learn to understand Him as He cuts His work short in righteousness. And it will be a complete work.
Then will I lead blind men on their way and guide them by paths they do not know; I will turn darkness into light before them and straighten their twisting roads. All this I will do and leave nothing undone (vs. 16).
It seems unlikely that one so close to Christ would not know Him. But Peter's problem was quite like ancient Israel's. He was satisfied with too low a standard. He presumed upon God. But. . .
All this you have done, and shall I keep silence? You thought that I was another like yourself, but point by point I will rebuke you to your face (Ps. 50:21).
Peter was rebuked several times. He, the great Peter, was a slow learner. Peter, if living today, probably would not have taken the time to study the Spirit of Prophecy carefully for himself. Not until he was thoroughly humbled at least.
In church business meetings he would like work done expediently. When the pressure was on, he would be tempted to rationalize. When it came time to locate or design a new church or school he would submit to the most promising pressures. Not really understanding stewardship he would not teach it adequately. Matters of questionable dress and recreational practices he would only touch lightly, if at all. He would hesitate to step on toes, influential toes.
Peter did not know! It's astonishing, but true.
He knew many quotations from the Scriptures and Spirit of Prophecy here and there. But he did not know the books. All of them were not a part of him. Prayer was more a habit than an abiding experience. He longed for answers that were at his right hand. He did not experiment with God to try Him, try Him hard.
Peter was a minister called of God. Yet "he spoke without knowing what he was saying."
But Peter had a wonderful God. He rebuked Peter to his face. Peter was embarrassed. Peter was grateful. And Peter became a great man of God.
There is still a little time, thank God, to become converted ministers.
* Unless otherwise noted, all texts are from The New English Bible.
Raymond S. Moore was president of the Hewitt
Research Center and a professor at Andrews University at the time of this writing.