Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Peter - March 8, 2017 - Second Mid-Week of Lent - Text: Matt. 14:28,29; 16:16-23; 17:1-4, 25-26; 26:33-75; John 21:1-21
As we began last week, so we begin this week, with the reminder that we call the Word of God the “Good News” and rightly so, for it is the good news of salvation for all who believe. This year during the season of Lent through Easter Sunday we will be hearing of the events surrounding the suffering and death of Jesus through the different characters of those involved in the events. We will get a better understanding of the personalities and thus the reasons for the specific actions of the characters through actual Biblical statements and “quotes” of each person.
Last week we began by looking at the character we might want to “hate the most.” We did not look at Judas in such a way so as to illicit sympathy for him, but to try to understand Judas as a person, after all he too is loved by God and he was chosen and called by Jesus to be one of the Apostles. This evening we move on to look at the character of Peter, the one known as Simon or Cephas.
What do we know about Peter? We know that Peter was one of the twelve apostles, called by God and set apart to be with Him. We do know that he was one of what we often call the inner circle of Jesus with James and John and often Andrew. We do know that his career began in the fishing industry with his brother Andrew and his cousins James and John the sons of Zebedee. And as we review some of the facts and quotes of God’s Word we get the idea that Peter was one who would rather act first and think later, at least that seemed to be his temperament until after Pentecost as we will see.
One such incident that bears out this character trait of Peter, acting first and thinking second was following the account of the feeding of the five thousand. Jesus sent His apostles to the other side of the lake while He spent time in prayer. During the night Jesus saw the disciples in distress in the boat and came to help. “When the disciples saw [Jesus] walking on the lake, they were terrified. ‘It’s a ghost,’ they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’ ‘Lord, if it’s you,’ Peter replied, ‘tell me to come to you on the water.’ ‘Come,’ he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’ And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God’” (Matthew 14:26-33).
Peter was a leader of the group of twelve. Perhaps it was his personality, that is one who would step up and take charge. Peter followed Jesus, listened to Him preach, watched Him perform signs and wonders and Peter believed, at least in his own way and according to his own understanding. When questioned concerning his understanding of who Jesus was Peter answered as we are told, “when Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ ‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ. From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’ Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men’” (Matthew 16:13-23).
Again, Peter was one of the inner circle as we have described and thus he had opportunities that the others did not have. One such opportunity was that of seeing Jesus in all His glory on transfiguration Sunday. The account tells us, “After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’ When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. ‘Get up,’ he said. ‘Don’t be afraid.’ When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, ‘Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead’” (Matthew 17:1-9).
As the time approached for Jesus death, He arranged and celebrated one last time the Passover Seder with His disciples. At that celebration He spoke some rather unnerving words to them all and even to Peter. “Jesus told [His disciples], ‘This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:’ “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.’ Peter replied, ‘Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.’ ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.’ But Peter declared, ‘Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.’ And all the other disciples said the same” (Matthew 26:31-35).
Jesus words happened just as He said, “Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. ‘You also were with Jesus of Galilee,’ she said. But he denied it before them all. ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ he said. Then he went out to the gateway, where another girl saw him and said to the people there, ‘This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.’ He denied it again, with an oath: ‘I don’t know the man!’ After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, ‘Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away.’ Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, ‘I don’t know the man!’ Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: ‘Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:69-75).
Jesus words continued to be fulfilled as all the disciples left Him so that He was on trial, suffered and died alone. Yet, as we know the rest of the account, Jesus did not stay dead, but rose and for forty days showed Himself to be alive. One such appearance was described this way, “afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. ‘I’m going out to fish,’ Simon Peter told them, and they said, ‘We’ll go with you.’ So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’ ‘No,’ they answered. He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, ‘It is the Lord,’ he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish you have just caught.’ Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ None of the disciples dared ask him, ‘Who are you?’ They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead” (John 21:1-14).
Finally, we hear words of confession and absolution for Peter. After Jesus fed the disciples on the morning by the sea He spoke to Peter and here let me use the Greek words that are in our text for the word “love,” so that you might get a better understanding of what is being said. “When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you truly [agape, selflessly] love me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I [phila, brotherly] love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’ Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you truly [agape, selflessly] love me?’ He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I [phila, brotherly] love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.’ The third time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you [phila, brotherly] love me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, ‘Do you [phila] love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I [phila, brotherly] love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.’ Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!’” (John 21:15-19). Note well that although Jesus asked Peter for unconditional, agape, selfless love, Peter knew he could only give a human brotherly love for Jesus. So, Jesus concedes to Peter’s love the third time.
I might suggest that at times we would all like to have a friend like Peter, one who is faithful and true, who will stand up for what is right, or at least what he thinks is right, one who will not simply speak up but will act. Yes, Peter had his flaws, he was after all only a man. The person of Peter, his being chosen by Jesus as one of His apostles might remind us that we are all truly Jesus disciples, that is learners and we too learn as we, not only sit at the Master’s feet which we do as we read and hear His Word, but as we act, that is as we live our lives as priest in the priesthood of all believers, offering our lives as living sacrifices, always being ready to give an answer for the hope that we have in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, a hope and faith given to us by the Father in Heaven. And as we too often deny our Lord with our lives, our thoughts, words and actions, our Lord also forgives us and invites us to follow Him. And so we have a hope and certain, a faith which moves us to say, to Him be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.