Today’s Reading: Matthew 16
Poor Alexander. He was having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Maybe you’ve read about his day?
From the moment he woke up, one terrible thing after another horrible thing happened to him. From finding gum in his hair to tripping over his skateboard to dropping his sweater in the sink while the water was running. And when his brothers found wonderful prizes in their cereal boxes, Alexander found . . . nothing.
On his way to school, he was squished in the center seat, and at school his teacher picked on him. After school he had a dentist appointment and the dentist found Alexander had a cavity.
And on and on it went—one catastrophe after another. Alexander decides he wants to move to Australia, where they probably never have bad days—but his mom tells him they do have bad days there too. What a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day Alexander had.
Alexander had a bad day. Australians have a bad day. And what’s not hard to believe is that Christians do too. We have no promises from God that once you and I become a Christian, all our days are always going to be great. But somehow we forget that when we have bad days!
In today’s reading, we see a disciple who had a great day—and then he had terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Or to put it another way, he had a Simon day, a Peter day, and a Satan day—all in one day.
You already read this chapter, but let’s take another look at Matthew 16:
“Who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. (verses 15-18)
Wow! Jesus changed Simon’s name based on his revelation of Jesus. None of the other disciples had this happen.
But then Peter had his name changed again. This is where it becomes the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day:
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 be raised up on the third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” (verses 21-23)
What a change—from Simon to Peter to Satan. Have you ever felt like that? You’re going along having a Simon day (ordinary), and something happens in which you move to a Peter day (revelation that God is awesome), and then all of a sudden you get smacked with a Satan day (get behind Me).
In all of those days, though, you are loved by God. Your worst day does not make you any less accepted by God. The prodigal son covered in mud never stopped being a son, did he? He was still loved by his father. Jesus didn’t stop loving Peter, did He? No. And the same is true of you.
Author Brennan Manning does a good job of giving us a glimpse into the revolutionary love of God: “His love is never, never, never based on our performance, never conditioned by our moods—of elation or depression. The furious love of God knows no shadow of alteration or change. It is always reliable. And always tender.”
I read those words while traveling from Queens to Brooklyn on the F Train, and I started crying.
The revolutionary thinking that God loves me as I am and not as I should be requires radical rethinking and profound emotional readjustment. Our religion never begins with what we do for God. It always starts with what God has done for us, the great and wondrous things that God dreamed of and achieved for us in Christ Jesus.
What makes Jesus amazing is that He absolutely knows you and me and every evil and wicked thought and not only accepts us but furiously loves us—even when we mess up.
Your behavior does not dictate His behavior. He is who He is. He doesn’t change based on who you are. Your actions don’t control His character. Second Timothy 2:13 tells us, “If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny who he is” (NLT).
I love this verse! He cannot deny who He is. God is absolutely consistent. He can’t be anything but who He is. Your bad day does not change God.
Regardless of how your day will go today or if it already went, here is one unchanging thought to carry with you:
We change, we get moody . . . but God is always the same, which means no matter what kind of day you’re having, He loves you.