Peter; August 18, 2021

Mark 11:25 “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

The story as a whole is certainly famous, and we ran into the account in Matthew on the 10th. However, Mark has long been understood as Peter’s recollection of events, and this version seems more realistic about the fig tree. Where Matthew says the tree withered “immediately,” (Matthew 21:19) Mark says they noticed it the next day, and Peter was the one who pointed it out. (verses 20-21) Then we have the powerful, even hyperbolic, statements on prayer and faith, and then Mark records this statement on prayer and forgiveness, which Matthew includes right after recording the Lord’s Prayer. (Matthew 6:14 Some manuscripts of Mark include what Matthew records in the next verse too.) By the time he was dictating to Mark, Peter was acutely aware of the whole issue of forgiveness. After all, he had so famously denied three times that he even knew Jesus, at the time of Jesus’ trial. I would imagine that Peter was very quick to forgive anyone for anything! It’s very helpful to remember that all of the people in the Bible were real people, very similar to us. When we place them at too much of a remove in our minds, we lose many of the lessons God wants to teach us through the written record. Peter was an obviously flawed individual, but his flaws were actually neither greater nor less than our own flaws. When he could mess up as badly as he did and still be used by God as much as he was, then God should have no trouble using us! Too many people disqualify themselves in their own minds from active discipleship, simply because they are looking too much at themselves instead of at God, for whom all things are possible. It is foolish indeed to demand that God use us, but we all need to keep ourselves available in case He should choose to do so. After all, God took a brash, ignorant fisherman and made him a pillar of the Church!

I’ve been on both sides of this issue. At one point, when I actually wasn’t walking closely with God at all, I thought, “Of course God would use me. Look how qualified I am!” It was after that, that God showed me the depths of my sinful pride, and I collapsed in tearful repentance. I feel like I have some grasp of how Peter felt when Jesus looked at him as the rooster crowed. (Luke 22:60-62) However, that didn’t totally cure me of conceit, as much as I wish it had. I too need to be active in fixing my eyes on Jesus or I will get off track. (Hebrews 12:2) I know that He can do anything at all, even using me, and I need to give Him full permission to do so, or not. It is pride that insists that “I am the vessel,” but it is unbelief that says, “He couldn’t use me.” After all, He used a donkey to speak to Balaam! (Numbers 22)

Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me keep myself available to You at all times, to do Your will and Yours alone, for Your glory alone. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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