A friend of mine Jim is a runner who runs a lot of road races. He came by recently and talked about the marathons he’s run in Boston. Well, during one marathon he was running along and one of those motorcycles with a TV camera on the back of it slowly pulled up in front of him and began filming him. He waves into the camera a little bit, and after he finishes up with his “Hi Mom!”, he puts his head back down and keeps on running. He’s expecting that that’s enough, that the motorcycle will move on.
But it didn’t, it kept on him.
So Jim gives another wave or two, another “Hi Mom!”, and well, this keeps going on. He was wondering why they were so fixed on him. Well, at some point he happened to look over his shoulder to see how far ahead he was of the next guy.
He found out he was only about 5 feet in front of the next guy. And that next guy was Bill Rodgers, the 22-time marathon champion who is probably the greatest American marathoner ever.
Jim told me, “Here I am thinking the camera is on me, and Bill Rodgers is right behind me the whole time. I’m smiling and waving and all that, taking up all the attention. He’s probably thinking, ‘Get out of the way! Get behind me!'”
When the Lord gave Peter his new name and designated him the Rock on which He would build His Church, it was when Peter recognized who He was. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mt 16:16)
Now what happened right after that, not 3 minutes later? Peter takes the Lord aside and starts telling Him what to do. There’s going to be no going to Jerusalem, no suffering, no death, no resurrection.
What’s going on?
Peter thinks the camera is on him. He’s just got the jackpot, the limelight, the attention. He’s the Rock, the foundation of the Church, he has the keys to the Kingdom. He thinks he’s the leader now. But he missed a very important thing that the Lord said: “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” (Mt 16:17)
So what was the Lord thinking? “Get out of the way! Get behind me!” “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you do not savor the things of God but the things of men.” (Mt 16:23)
Peter went from Rock to devil in 3 minutes because he forgot God. He put himself in front of Jesus.
Our gift of faith is given from God when we get behind Jesus and follow Him. If you’re ever tempted to go out in front of the Lord, if you ever think the good attention you get for being a person of faith is your own doing, remember Peter. And remember the Lord’s words to him.
Get behind Him.