It is the season of focusing on the journey to the cross. But today I find myself thinking about Peter. Peter, the source of such faith. Peter, the man who understood who Jesus was and still denied him.
Peter was called to follow Jesus and become fishers of men. (Luke 5:3-11) We find him fishing without any luck. Jesus tells him and his fellow boatmates to change where they are fishing, “Put out into the deep and let down your nest for a catch.” (Verse 4b). Simon Peter humored Jesus and did as he was told. The result was so much fish it almost sank the boat and they put down their nets and followed Jesus.
Peter having witnessed the miracle of the feeding of thousands with 5 loaves and two fish, joined the others in a boat. Jesus went to talk to His Father. Storm brewed and Jesus walked out to them. Peter was afraid just like the other men in the boat until he heard Jesus’ voice. Then he became bold and challenged Jesus to allow him to come to him. And Jesus commanded him to “Come”. I cannot imagine what that first step onto the water felt like. And then peter not really believing he was walking on water began to doubt, and he sank. He reached out to Jesus. And Jesus said, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
In Matthew 16:15-16 we find a discussion as to who Jesus is. Jesus poses the question “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God.” Peter understood so much and yet so little. Blame it on faulty teaching before Jesus came into his life. Jesus rewarding him by saying “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” “Upon this rock”, a rock is a firm foundation. And the foundation is who Jesus really was. Peter understood it.
Apparently, Peter was a hot head and protective of those he loved (sound familiar). “Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear.” Can’t you see Jesus shaking his head and thinking “O Peter”. “So, Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword into its sheath’ shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me.’” (John 18:10-11) In Luke 22:49-51, we find that Jesus picked up the ear and healed it. Then he was led off.
Jesus told Peter that he would deny him. Peter denied that he would ever do that. And then he did. Not once but three times. And soon as he denied him the third time the rooster crowed. AND then Peter remembered Jesus’ words to him (Matthew 26:73-75). Having followed Jesus for three years, listening to his teachings, witnessing the miracles and even performing those miracles, Peter still denied him when fear gripped him. I tend to think that Peter was heartbroken and was crushed by the truth that hit him that day. Not only was Jesus right, but I am such a failure. The sense of failing Jesus was probably more than he could handle at the time. But things would only get worse, he had to watch his friend and mentor being beaten and then hung on a cross. Then he had to watch him die, slowly. He watched them wrap him in the burial garments and put him in the tomb and seal it with a big rock.
“But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.” (Luke 24:12) Peter grieved with the others. Then the women who went to tend to the body of Jesus came back with a tale to tell. Instead of staying there with the others, he ran to see it for himself. Peter having experienced Jesus predictions first hand, knew then without a doubt what had happened.
I identify with Peter in a lot of ways. I know who Jesus is, but cannot trust that He will do all He says He will do, not for me. I am not worthy. I am a fierce protector of those I love. But having to let go and allow them to do what God wants them to do is tough for me. I am learning to trust God to be God more and more each day. I am part of a firm foundation that the church is built. I am Peter, strong and dedicated to Jesus. “Lord, Help my Unbelief” (Mark 9:24b)
And they ate the passover meal...