When it comes to Jesus's disciples, Peter has always been the one who most interests me. Peter is the first one to come up with the most outlandish, inappropriate statements, but he's the one who comes up with the most insightful statements as well. One of my favorite "Peterisms" is in John 6, when Peter basically says to Jesus, "Leave you? We don't have anywhere else to go! You're the only one who has words of life!"
But, as interesting as Peter is, I would have hated having him in my classroom. Actually, now that I think about it, I've had students like Peter. If you've ever been a teacher, either in school or church, you may have met a student like Peter...
Peter is the student who hears you make some inconsequential remark that was not at all the main point you were trying to make, and while you're proceeding forward to talk about the really important stuff, his brain is stuck on that one comment you made.
You see him sitting there, with a deep and puzzled look on his face, and you think "Oh, look at how carefully Peter is considering my words!" But then he raises his hand and asks a question that's related to what you were saying ten minutes ago, and you realize: he hasn't heard a word you've said in the last ten minutes!
Peter did this to Jesus on their very last evening together. Jesus was going to the cross the next day, and He had some very important information to impart.
"I'm going to be leaving you," Jesus says, "so I need to give you one final, great command. It's a New Commandment. Love one another as much as I love you. If you do this, the whole world will recognize that you are my followers."
What a powerful bit of teaching that is! To love one another as Jesus loves us, that will demonstrate itself in both small ways and big ways, just as Jesus himself served us in both the big and the small -- the cross, the washing of feet, and everything in between!
But Peter, he got stuck on the very first thing Jesus said. "Uh, Jesus? What do you mean, you're leaving?"
I don't think Peter heard a word Jesus said after that!
Of course, I don't blame him. I mean, don't I do the same thing? When I read something in God's word that might be challenging, difficult, or force me to change something about myself, don't I also let myself get distracted?
I think it is a common failing of God's people, that whenever God's word makes us uncomfortable, we let ourselves get distracted by issues of lesser importance, issues that have no eternal consequence, and yet we persuade ourselves that they are the issues of most importance.
I'm determined that I'm not going to be like Peter. I'm not going to let myself get distracted; I'm going to hear what Jesus has to say to me, and I will follow with my whole heart, instead of getting sidetracked by every little detail that comes down the pike.