Tag Archives: Peter

Even to Death

Peter, the boldest, most opinionated, outspoken of the disciples, was one of the “inner three.” He walked on water and witnessed Christ’s metamorphosis on the Mount of Transfiguration. He bore Christ’s rebukes after each of his arrogant, unthinking statements. At the end of his life He died for Christ.

On the night before Passover, the passion of Christ, Jesus continues preparing His disciples for His death. He tells them what will happen, what they are to do and to wait for. Peter hears only some of His words and allows his arrogance to rise. He declares he is ready to stand with Christ through anything and everything, even facing death.

Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”

Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.”

Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” [Matthew 26:31-34 ESV]

Jesus rebuked Peter often. I have often wondered how Peter felt after each rebuke, every time Jesus challenged his intent, the thinking of his heart. I can only imagine hurt and since Peter is like most men, his pain turned into stubbornness, a form of anger. Did he say to himself “I will not fall away!” dejectedly and dutifully following his Master into a garden like he had done so many times before. This night would be different. This night they would have unwelcomed company. This night would begin a day of terror and suffering for Jesus.

Mark adds to the story.

But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same. [Mark 14:31 ESV]

It is not until we read Luke’s account we discover a hidden element to Peter’s heartfelt declaration.

Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers. [Luke 22:31-32 ESV]

Like Job, and how many other unknown followers of God, Satan squeaked into God’s presence, tolerated by a Holy and Just and Good and True God, and threw down a challenge. Satan cannot be everywhere since he is not God. He can direct those who are his, who speak and act in his name, to tempt and lie to those whose sin will grieve God deeply. God is not afraid of grief and agony and suffering. He decided from eternity past to embrace the agony of the cross as a sacrifice of love for those with whom He will have an intimate relationship. God uses Satan to test the obedience of those He loves so they will fail and relinquish control to Him and live. Yes, He expects us to fail. Only in our failure will we accomplish His will His way. He must be the One who works in us. It is the suffering of our failures which brings us the joy of God presence.

Peter belongs to God.  Satan cannot have him.

John shows us what Peter’s devotion will cost him. Peter, like his fellows, will face unmerciful emotional suffering which will last until they see with their eyes the resurrected Jesus. Christ’s suffering is finished and ours is begun. Do not think for a moment our suffering is not experienced by God. We are hidden in Him, identified with His Son and filled with His Spirit.

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?”

Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.”

Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”

Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.” [John 13:36-38 ESV]

Jesus knows intimately the heart of His disciple. Peter truly wants to be with his Master. Jesus truly wants Peter with Him.  For this to happen, and it will happen, both must suffer the agony of the cross, one on the cross and one watching. Jesus must endure its physical trauma. Peter must endure its spiritual consequences. He must mourn deeply over the entire consequences of his sin bourn by his Master in his stead.

Do I want to be with God, where He is, to please Him, to love Him? This is hard. My gift will only please Him after I suffer with His Son. This is not something I am willing to face. But, God loves me and will bring me through what He has determined for me. I will never for eternity be out of His presence. Even when enduring the deepest, harshest suffering.

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Peter and Stephen

Those who have the pure salt of righteousness and shine God’s truth through their persons in a world darkened by sin will naturally face persecution. Creatures of darkness cannot abide the light for they fear exposure and run away from anything touched by light. But the light of truth cannot be hidden any more than it can be extinguished, especially when the source of light is God Himself, who is truth. Nor will the salt of righteousness lose its saltiness from those abandoned to God simply because of the hatred of the world.

Stephen was a Grecian Jew probably born outside of Judea or Galilee. He was one of the Diaspora, in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover or Pentecost and staying when he heard either Jesus teach or one of the Apostles, Peter maybe, or John. This is all speculation. We know little about Stephen other than his name, that he was chosen with six others to help serve the growing church, and that he was a godly man filled with the Holy Spirit. We also know he had a good grasp of Israel’s history and was unafraid of the Jewish leadership. We know he was persecuted and murdered because of his stance for Jesus and the gospel. We know he was falsely accused and offered a defense using his accusers own history. His story is in Acts 7.

Israel’s history condemns them for it is their history which God used to point to His Son. Using normal sinful thinking these Jews pluck out the good things from their history ignoring the sinful behavior of their ancestors. Jesus, Peter, and Stephen would not allow them this luxury. They, just like their fathers, were prone to idolatry.

Peter, an untrained teacher, also used Israel’s history to point to Jesus, His death and resurrection. None of those who confronted Peter could disprove his words. They could not produce Jesus’ body. Nor could they stand against Peter’s words before the people. Many entered God’s kingdom because of Peter’s words and miracles.

Steven did the same thing. “Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you’” [Acts 7:2-3, ESV].

Peter used the words of Moses to prick the consciences of his hearers, words they knew well.

Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you.  And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness. [Acts 3:22 ESV]

Stephen used the same illustration from Scripture. “This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.’ This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us” [Acts 7:37-38, ESV].

Peter brought his teaching to the place where he accused the Jews of killing God’s Righteous One. Stephen did the same. Peter saw thousands come to God through the gospel and felt the lashes of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing in his sharing in the suffering of Christ. Some came into the kingdom from Stephen’s teaching while he lived. He felt the stones of their hatred toward God while asking God to forgive them. How many has God made righteous through the light of Stephen?  We do not know. It does not matter to us. What matters is we, too, are willing to shine light in a world dedicated to darkness and hatred for God.

Those who hate God think they can extinguish a person’ s light and nullify their righteousness through persecution and intimidation or by killing them. Jesus was raised from the dead. The hatred of the world is evidence of the citizen of the kingdom of heaven’s righteous standing before God.

But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” [Acts 4:19-20, ESV]

Aliens and Strangers

 

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles (aliens) of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.[1 Peter 1:1-2 ESV]

We must change the way we think if we are to know, both intellectually and intimately, God and His peace. We long for peace for it is integral to our eternal image. In this world we have peace, but we do not have peace. We are in a position of peace with God residing in a place at war with Him and consequently with us.

First Peter uses two words to describe the Christian. He calls us “aliens and strangers.”  “Beloved, I urge you as strangers and aliens to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” [1 Peter 2:11 ESV]. These words are often translated as “exiles,” “sojourners,” “pilgrims.” We are confused by these English words because they are used interchangeably. They are not interchangeable.

First, read the word used in 1 Peter 1:1 as aliens. An alien is a resident foreigner, someone who has moved to a place from another nation for whatever reason, making the host country their temporary home. They are not going back home any time soon, if ever. They could be political exiles or refugees, fleeing persecution in one place to live in what they think a safer place. They are not citizens of the host country but still abide by its laws, adopt its customs and traditions, language and lifestyle. They may adopt its religion as their own. But, they are citizens of a different place and long to return to their true home.

Peter uses a second word with a completely different meaning.

And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile (being as a stranger), knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.[1 Peter 1:17-19  ESV]

Read the word “as strangers” not “exiles.” A “stranger” is a person simply travelling through a place for a specific purpose. They are free to come and go and are in the country to get something and then leave, going home with that which they have gotten. They may be in country on business, looking for merchandise or something of value. They may be tourists gathering memories. They could be exiles but will not remain so for long. The host country is not their home and they refuse to adopt its culture and traditions, its language or religion. It is not their home because they are going home soon, once they have acquired that which they sought.

Peter describes the Christian as an alien and a stranger. We are not citizens of this world but citizens of the kingdom of God, of Heaven. We are here for a time, making a home here, a tent, something easily left, with our eyes fixed upon home, ready to leave at a moment’s notice. We are here as witnesses to the world, a testimony of God and His grace through the work of Christ. We are here being prepared for eternity. We are not here to claim anything this world has as our own. Why do we cling to that which we cannot take with us?

God differentiates between the alien and the stranger in Exodus. The alien in Israel my eat the Passover with those who are God’s chosen. Those gentiles who have adopted Israel as their home are covered by the blood of the paschal lamb. However, those gentiles who are strangers may not eat the Passover with Israel. See Exodus 12:43-49.

Christians must think differently, not like the world but like a citizen of the kingdom of God. Aliens and strangers are never at complete peace in the temporary place in which they live. They may experience relative peace, but they view the host country as a place they will stay for a limited time. Then they will return to their true home. We live here as witnesses of God, as aliens. We live here getting that which we can only get here, as strangers being prepared for eternity.

One of the reasons God left us in this world is as a witness to His grace through jesus Christ. Aliens and strangers are peacemakers, seeking to move those called by God from citizenship in the world to an eternal, peaceful kingdom.

“Rest in Peace”

I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!  Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.  And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. [Luke 12:4-9 ESV]

If there is anything consistent in the makeup of man it is the reality of sin and consequent physical death. In our rebellion we excuse and ignore sin. We cannot ignore or avoid death. We can refuse to acknowledge God all of our physical lives until we come before Him.

Jesus told His disciples of His impending death at the hands of His enemies in Jerusalem.

From that time 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 on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.’”[Matthew 16:21-22 ESV]

I think Peter spoke for the group. He pulled Jesus aside and rebuked Him, suggesting Jesus was not going to die as He described. While we could debate Peter’s motivations his refusal to accept the impending death of a loved one is more prominent. He could not imagine the man before him, robust, quick witted, strong, facing death. Jesus bested the Pharisees. He would continue to best them. There is no way Jesus would be murdered by anyone.

Jesus rebuked the liar who inspired Peter to believe the lie. “Get behind me Satan” [Matthew 16:23 ESV]. Wishful thinking is just that. It has no foundation in truth and therefore no substance.

Christians are probably more afraid of the process of dying than of actual death. If we knew when we were going to die would we not get our house in order? Would we tremble and quake because we do not know Him or face death with peace because we do know Him. Moses was told he would not enter the Promised Land so he prepared the people to follow God after his death. Then was gathered to his people atop a mountain overlooking the land he could not enter. There is no indication he feared dying.

Often it is not the one dying who is afraid but those around facing the reality of losing a loved who are the most distressed. Leaving loved ones, through death, might bring resignation and acceptance of one’s circumstance. Trapped by the world, those staying want to build a false peace to placate their emotional upheaval.

“Rest in peace” is an accepted euphemism stuffed with wishful thinking. Where there is no peace with God there can be no peace in death. Where there is no fear of God there is no desire to be right before Him. Death becomes a purposefully ignored unknown filled with superstitious possibilities based upon fantasy.

Jesus set His face toward Jerusalem where He would face a violent death at the hands of professional executioners. He knew this and He was at peace. He asked God to take away the cup, but submitted Himself to His Father, for He knew the peace He had could not be taken, even by death. How we face death, our own and the death of a loved one, is a test. Do we know we have peace with God? Do we know the person dying has peace with God? Do we live for God?

Death could not hold Jesus. He was raised from the dead. Those who are His need have no fear of death. Those who are not His should absolutely fear death.

Coming Into God’s Presence

Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. [33] And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”— not knowing what he said. [Luke 9:32-33 ESV]

And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” [Matthew 17:4 ESV]

Peter was practical, his thinking and acting focused completely on his immediate involvement in life. From acquiescing to Jesus command to let down his nets for a catch after a full night of futile work (“Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets” [Luke 5:5 ESV]) to his walking on water.

“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” [Matthew 14:28-30 ESV]

Peter’s only drawback was his inability to think beyond himself as the center of the world. It is a problem we all share.

While Pete’s life was full, he walked with and was taught by Jesus and after the ascension he traveled the world as the apostle to the Jews, I want to look at the mercy God showed him. Mercy is active love and God showed His active love toward Peter and the other disciples in ways far beyond their limited comprehension.

On the mount of transfiguration Peter came into the presence of God. As you look back in Scripture you will find only two instances where God “showed His glory” to a man. Both times on a mountain, the Mountain of God. Both times shielding those He showed His glory from seeing His face.

When Moses went to God to make the second set of tablets God passed by and shielded him with His hand.

Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen. [Exodus 33:21-23 ESV]

Then, when Elijah ran to God after killing the prophets of Baal and was threatened by Jezebel, he pulled his cloak over his head shielding his face from seeing God.

And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. [12] And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. [13] And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. [1 Kings 19:11-13 ESV]

Are there any other instances in Scripture where sinful man was exposed to the glory of God? Adam and Eve before the fall? Joshua, who never left the tent of meeting while the glory of God was on it? Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) walking around in the fiery furnace with one who looked like a “son of the gods” [Daniel 3:25 ESV]? How about those who were given visions of God on His throne? None of these were shielded from what they saw yet all saw God. Better, all saw the preincarnate Christ, God the Son.

When Jesus was transformed (metamorphoo) before Peter, James and John, He was transfigured into that which He is truly. Peter, James and John saw Jesus with Moses and Elijah, the only three men who had ever seen God the Father’s glory. What the three disciples saw was Christ in His glory. We make the assumption this was the only time during Christ earthly life where He was transfigured, clothed with His true glory. Yet, Christ went alone many times, as was His habit, up mountains to pray. Just because we are told of one time does not mean He was transfigured only this one time. We have no witnesses of the other times He was alone and there is no reason to  believe He was not transfigured at those times, also.

Why Peter said what he did is a mystery. We can make assumptions, something we do willingly as we focus upon ourselves and try to understand a man who walked with Christ. That he and the others saw Christ in His glory is an act of love extended to few in this world. Not until we reach eternity will we see Christ in His glory. Peter, James and John saw Him while living in sinful, rebellious bodies.

There was nothing about these men which qualified them for such an honor. Peter was a sinful man who viewed the world revolving about himself, who wanted things his way. He acknowledged the sinfulness of his heart. He suffered the gentle stinging rebukes of Jesus because of his lack of faith. He denied Christ. By the end of his life he did not see himself worthy to even die the same way Christ died. Throughout, he received God’s gracious mercy even when he did not recognize it.

Mercy is more than God’s actions toward those in pitiable circumstances. Mercy defines God’s actions toward us all the time.

God Must Reveal

“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” [Matthew 16:13-15 ESV]

Hungering and thirsting for righteousness suggests righteousness is necessary for life and is either withheld or missing. While righteousness is absolute, based upon the eternal character of God, our relationship with God is based on more than mere righteousness. “Mere” is the wrong word for God’s “mere” is eternal and inexhaustible. Straining His righteousness through our selfish thinking and self-centered feelings leaves us with a wrong understanding of what is missing from our spiritual diet or withheld from our spiritual existence.

Many Christians, because of personality, think in black and white. There is no room for gray or color. Binary thinking is either “yes” or “no”, “right” or “wrong.” We can assert everything we do is done within in His will or outside of His will. Within His will is eternal flexibility and freedom. Each person lives with a desire to control God. It is  the thinking of our hearts which tell us if we do not do His will perfectly then we fail. In the thinking of our hearts we must hit the bull’s eye of His will otherwise we miss.  Is not sin characterized as missing the mark? Bull’s eye theology suggests if you somehow miss God’s will you can never go back, or start over. You cannot take the shot over or act life it never happened. We either hit it and win or miss it and lose.

This theology holds the absurd belief God’s will for a person is changed by the person’s disobedience and that God must then settle for second best. So much influence is placed upon the person’s behavior and accomplishments God can do little or nothing once that person deviates from the stated course. Since an event did not happen within a specific time frame God is forced to modify His plan in order to get the person back on track. How arrogant.

There are many places in Scripture where God explicitly states His expectations. Though clearly stated every person in every part of their life, under every worldly circumstance, misses the mark. Yes, there are great successes followed by even greater failures. God’s ultimate standard is absolute righteousness which none but His Son can achieve. It is His righteousness which is missing from our spiritual being and withheld from us because of the corruption of sin.

Once sin corrupts every man and all of his world no one is capable of standing before God in righteousness. God, because He is God, judged every sin according to His righteousness and found every person, except His Son, wanting. God’s laws, commands, statutes, and explicit demands are meant to force each person to recognize sin, to realize the consequences of sin, and to relinquish control back to God. These laws, commands, statutes and explicit demands of God are never meant to offer a means for any to attain righteousness with any effort. Again, this does not mean we cease trying but that we recognize or efforts as worthy but unable to achieve the result of righteousness.

In Matthew 16 we witness the see-saw of success-failure working in Peter. He has followed Jesus for some time. He has seen the evidence of Jesus’ miracles. He has heard Jesus’ words. Now, Jesus drives home a point we all need to hear, understand and incorporate into the thinking of our hearts. His point to Peter is not about who He is but about how all can know who He is. Up until this time everyone who followed Him saw the evidence of His life and words. He spoke with authority. He healed the sick and  raised the dead. He performed miracles like feeding thousands of people. All of the evidence pointed to Him being very God for only God could do what He was doing.

He asks His disciples what people speculate about Him. Who do they say He is? Some say they think Him just another person or a reincarnated Prophet from their past. Peter, on the other hand, declares who he is. “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” [Matthew 16:16 ESV]. Jesus’ response is telling. Peter’s statement of fact was not thought through or deduced from the evidence. God had to reveal this to Peter. “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” [Matthew 16:17 ESV].

God reveals Himself to people. We can study and pray, seek with all diligence, say all the right words and phrases, act like the perfect Christian, but unless God has revealed Himself to us all we do and think and feel is enslaving superstition.

Jesus then tells His disciples what must happen, alluding to God’s ultimate reason for sending His Son. There is no compromising His mission. “From that time 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 on the third day be raised” [Matthew 16:21 ESV]. These facts were predetermined by God from before the creation of the world and the fall of man. Moses, Job, David, Isaiah all talked about Him and what He would do. All of the Old Testament, the Hebrew Scripture known by the Jews Jesus spoke with, knew these Scriptures. They knew the Scripture but did not believe the Scripture.

Peter’s response to Jesus’ statement is completely understandable. He was a corrupted human who did not, could not, believe the truth of Scripture, or even his own statements. “And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you’” [Matthew 16:22 ESV]. His statement are inconsistent. When Peter succeeded it was because of God succeeded in and through him. When Peter failed it was because he lived in his own strength.

Notice Jesus did not rebuke Peter. He rebuked Satan. “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” [Matthew 16:23 ESV]. Jesus loved Peter, even knowing he would miss the mark, and accepted him in grace. Peter thinking malfunctioned. He was a failure according to the standards of the world. He failed according to his own standards. He failed because Satan, the Deceiver, wants all to fail. But in God’s eyes Peter was a success, only because he was covered with the blood of His Son, Jesus. Jesus condemned Satan. Jesus redeemed Peter.

There is no such thing as a successful Christian when measured against the standards of the world, or self and those around self, and especially Satan. Jesus does not ask us to be perfect. He demands it. He does not ask us to be holy. He demands it. We fail. He must succeed for us. Here is the Object of faith delivering what is promised. He loves those who are His because He has decided to, not because we are lovable.

If only we would recognize our poverty of spirit and mourn our failures while recognizing His righteousness and enjoy Him. If only we would be weak and rest in His strength. If only we would hunger and thirst for His righteousness like our very lives depended upon it. We cannot change ourselves. God changes people, preparing them for eternity with Him.

Examples of Meekness: Peter

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. [Matthew 5:5 ESV]

And he went up on the mountain and called to him those whom he desired, and they came to him. And he appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) so that they might be with him and he might send them out to preach. [Mark 3:13-14 ESV]

We have selective hearing when it comes to saying we will do one thing and then proceed to do the exact opposite. Our tendency is to focus upon our expectations and fit the words we hear into those expectations without challenging or questioning them. If we paid attention to God’s whispers and His known will we would act differently because we would think differently because we would be different. How much of what we do is done unconsciously because of habit and ingrained expectations which then blocks any alternate action.

After Jesus chose the twelve he empowered them and sent them out to do His work. “And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction” [Matthew 10:1 ESV].  Their instructions were to demand unclean spirits remove themselves from  people’s bodies. They were to heal people, whether from disease or infirmity. Matthew 10 adds they were given the ability to raise the dead. And, they were to tell these people, everyone the encountered, to repent for God’s kingdom was at hand. This was John’s and Jesus’ message and now their message. As servants of Jesus, for His disciples were His servants, they worked and spoke with His authority.

Of these twelve three received special attention from Jesus. James, and his brother John and Peter saw things and heard words from Jesus not shared with the other twelve. At times all twelve argued. At least twice their arguments were over who was the greatest among their group. Where they not paying attention to Jesus’ words and actions? How irresponsible would it be for them to add their expectations to His words and grasp at authority not theirs? They would cease being His servant and become their own through shear rebellion. He is the greatest in the kingdom.

After Jesus’ ascension, James was killed by Herod, “and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also” [Acts 12:3 ESV].  By this time Peter is recognized as the leader of the new Church. After Acts 12, John is no longer mentioned in the growth of the Church. Peter is mentioned by Paul in Galatians as being the apostle to the Jews in Galatians 2:7 . Please remember all of the disciples selected by Jesus were leaders in the early Church.

What is it about Peter that made him the leader of the Apostles?

When Peter acted, or reacted, it is with his whole being. He never held back, even when recognizing his own sin. In Luke 5 Jesus calls him and his partners, James and John, to follow Him. They are fishermen who know Jesus from previous experiences and encounters. This encounter was different for these three men and especially for Peter. Jesus did an almost minor miracle.  Before the miracle Peter saw Jesus as just another man, just another itinerant preacher tickling the ears of those gathered to hear him. He had no time for such laziness but reluctantly made time for Jesus, after a hard, unsuccessful night’s work. Read the whole story.

On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, Simon’s boat, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”

And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.

But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon.

And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. [Luke 5:1-11 ESV]

Peter recognized the truth of his sinfulness and begged Jesus to leave him. That which is sinful cannot exist in the presence of that which is not sinful. Man cannot stand before God without sin first being covered, hidden from Him, or expunged, or dying and being removed from His presence.  Peter, at that moment, the beginning of his training, became “poor in spirit” against his will. He was forced to see the truth by obvious circumstances.

Then, at the end of his training, while Jesus is standing in a courtyard facing the those who would soon murder him, Peter three times denied knowing Him. This was the fulfillment of a prediction Jesus had made only a few hours earlier. As soon as Peter denied Him the third time “the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly” [Luke 22:61-62 ESV].  Peter realized the consequences of his sin and “mourned” in a way he had never experienced. Saying he was willing to die for Jesus Peter was confronted by the lie in his boast. Both of these characteristics, being “poor in spirit” and “mourning” precede “meekness” and make it real.

Peter showed himself a hard working man unafraid of taking chances. If he saw the Lord doing something then he followed. When he saw Jesus walking on water, surrounded by the churning water and waves of the Sea of Galilee, enveloped in a raging storm, he asked to come to Him. All the other disciples were afraid when they saw Him, as they struggled against the waves to move their boat forward. Peter, an experienced seaman, knowing the dangers faced by all, the deadliness of the Sea, the ferocity of the storms, got out of the boat. None of the others followed.

Peter was the one with the suggestions, the boldness to confront the religious hypocrites, to speak to the Gentiles called by God, and even admit his own sin. When he sinned he faced it squarely, repented, and moved ahead. God and Peter struggled together, like Jacob wrestling the Angel of the Lord. Like Moses, he had to be dragged into the ministry when called by Jesus. He was compelled to follow in a way he could not avoid. Like David when he sinned greatly he repented deeply and thoroughly. Like Nehemiah he prayed continually. He inherited the world, but not as the world viewed as successful. As the apostle to the Jews he was the recognized leader of the Church in the world. Not the head of the Church, which belongs only to Jesus, but a recognized authority for the time he continued to live as one who had been chosen by and walked with the Lord of all.