What If UR Wrong

  “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.”

Jesus

 

The Apostle Peter

by Mark Karapetyan

The Apostle Peter, one of my favorite characters in the Bible, also known as Cephas, was one of the first followers of Jesus. Peter the loudmouth, may have been the most outspoken of the twelve apostles in Jesus’ ministry on earth.  He certainly became one of the boldest witnesses for the faith. Often however, he spoke before he thought and his words led to embarrassment. His beginnings were certainly humble in origin. [1]  We do not know when Peter was born, only that he was an adult living in Capernaum.

Simon was originally from Bethsaida and lived in Capernaum, both cities on the coast of the Sea of Galilee. He was married and he and James and John were partners in a profitable fishing business). Simon met Jesus through his brother Andrew, who had followed Jesus after hearing John the Baptist proclaim that Jesus was the Lamb of God).  Andrew immediately went to find his brother to bring him to Jesus. Upon meeting Simon, Jesus gave him a new name: Cephas (Aramaic) or Peter (Greek), which means “rock”).  Later, Jesus officially called Peter to follow Him producing a miraculous catch of fish.  Immediately, Peter left everything behind to follow the Lord. [2]

Peter’s house itself has an interesting history of its own that tells something about Peter’s open and hospitable personality. Apparently, it was also the home of Peter’s brother, Andrew (see Mark 1:29).  It seems to have become a kind of headquarters of the Church in Galilee, where lots of people gathered, especially after Jesus was rejected for the first time in His hometown of Nazareth (see Luke 4:23–31), and Capernaum came to be known as His “own city” (Matthew 9:1). One scholar has opined that Jesus “probably chose it because his first converts, the fishermen Peter and Andrew, lived there.”  Note the way Mark describes one of the many gatherings in Peter’s home after Jesus had been rejected in Nazareth.  Archaeology supports this story in an interesting way. The dry-stone basalt walls of the excavated house which is purported to be, and almost certainly is, Peters domicile could have supported only a light roof and, when viewed on site by anyone familiar with the text, automatically conjures up the episode of the curing of the paralytic. Much evidence shows that this house was singled out and venerated from the mid-first century A.D. One specific room in the house-complex bears plastered walls and a large number of graffiti scratched thereon, some mentioning Jesus as Lord and Christ. In the mid-first century the house underwent a significant change in use, from normal family activity to a general gathering or meeting place, indicating that it became one of the first house-churches in the Holy Land.  Additionally, the synoptic Gospels portray Peter’s house as being near the Capernaum synagogue, and archaeological excavations reveal that it was indeed situated near both the ancient synagogue of the town, which was situated on a slight rise just north of the house and the shores of the Sea of Galilee, immediately south of the house.   [3]

Peter was an ordinary fisherman in Galilee leading an ordinary life. But something quite out of the ordinary happened to him. He met a charismatic preacher called Jesus of Nazareth, and it changed everything.

He was captivated by Jesus – by what He said, by His personality, by everything about Him.  Jesus was from the same modest background as Peter, and from a town even more nondescript – he came from Bethsaida. But Peter realized that everything else about this preacher was compelling, and he threw in his trade as a fisherman to follow him. [4]

Peter was famous for many things: For being at Jesus’ transfiguration, for walking on water, for rebuking Jesus for what seemed to him negative thinking (prompting Jesus’ sharp reply “Get behind Me Satan”), for his statement to Jesus during the washing of feet during the Last Supper, for his denials of knowing Jesus when Peter was in the courtyard of the high priest, for drawing a sword when Jesus was being arrested and for being granted the singular privilege of an individual post-resurrection appearance by Jesus.  When Jesus asked him “Who do you say I am?” Peter made that famous statement, “You are the Christ (Messiah) the Son of the Living God.” [5]

Toward the close of Jesus’ ministry, Peter’s characteristics become especially prominent. At the last supper, Peter seems to have been particularly earnest in the request that the traitor might be pointed out. After the supper, his words drew out the meaning of the significant act of Jesus in washing His disciples’ feet. It was then that He made those repeated protestations of unalterable fidelity, so soon to be falsified by his miserable fall. On the morning of the resurrection, we have proof that Peter, though humbled, was not crushed by his fall. He and John were the first to visit the sepulcher or tomb; he was the first who entered it. To Peter, Jesus revealed Himself, thus conferring on him a signal honor and showing how fully he was restored to His favor.  [6]

Peter (and the other disciples) saw the amazing miracles that Jesus did: healing the sick (including healing Peter’s own mother-in-law), driving out demons, feeding multitudes, Jesus’ power of nature, even his power over death.  The one trait which Peter most admired in Jesus was his supernal tenderness. Peter never grew weary of contemplating Jesus’ forbearance.  He never forgot the lesson about forgiving the wrongdoer, not only seven times but seventy times and seven.  He thought much about these impressions of the Master’s forgiving character during those dark and dismal days immediately following his thoughtless and unintended denial of Jesus in the high priest’s courtyard.

Simon Peter was distressingly vacillating; he would suddenly swing from one extreme to the other. First, he refused to let Jesus wash his feet and then, on hearing the Master’s reply, begged to be washed all over. But, after all, Jesus knew that Peter’s faults were of the head and not of the heart. He was one of the most inexplicable combinations of courage and cowardice that ever lived on earth. His great strength of character was loyalty, friendship. Peter really and truly loved Jesus. And yet despite this towering strength of devotion he was so unstable and inconstant that he permitted a servant girl to tease him into denying his Lord and Master. Peter could withstand persecution and any other form of direct assault, but he withered and shrank before ridicule. He was a brave soldier when facing a frontal attack, but he was a fear-cringing coward when surprised with an assault from the rear.  [7]

At the time when Christ was being arrested, Peter drew a knife and cut off the ear of Malchus, a servant of the High Priest. Christ reprimanded him. From this event, some people have drawn the conclusion that Peter was a Sicarius (lit. “dagger-man”) and belonged to the group of Zealots who actively opposed Roman rule. This was the group to which Simon the Zealot and, perhaps, Judas Iscariot, belonged.  [8]

After Jesus’ arrest, Peter was brave enough to follow Jesus into the courtyard of the High Priest’s palace, but then he became frightened by the questions of a servant girl.  Fearing he would be recognized as a follower of Jesus, and perhaps be subject to the same brutal treatment Jesus was presently receiving, Peter denied his relationship with Jesus just as Jesus had foretold.  Peter was bitterly sorry for this failure. This incident is an example of Peter’s ready enthusiasm, but also of his speedy collapse in the face of difficulties.  Peter’s courage and faith also failed him momentarily when he had tried to walk on the water with Jesus.  However you have to admire his eagerness to even venture out on the storm tossed sea with his Lord.   [9]

An empty tomb brings Mary running to report to the disciples, and in turn Peter and John run to the tomb to find it empty, but there is no apparent conclusion by them that the promised resurrection has occurred. After Mary talks with the resurrected Jesus near the tomb she again makes a report to the disciples but they do not believe her. However that same day Jesus appears in the upper room to the disciples, but Thomas is absent.  A week later Jesus appears again to the disciples and Thomas believes as he sees Jesus for himself. Each of the four gospels takes the events after the resurrection just a little further in the order the gospels appear in the Bible, with John providing the most postscript. How interesting that John’s account takes us back to the business of fishing because that is what Peter had been doing when he first left everything to follow Jesus. Peter had already seen the resurrected Christ twice in the upper room, before Jesus appeared again and the fishermen took an astonishing catch at the direction of the man on the shore.  After they realized the man was Jesus, He told Simon Peter that he was to feed and take care of the sheep, and this moved Peter firmly from fisherman to a fisher of men. The significant events in Peter’s life between the first astonishing catch of fish and the last astonishing catch of fish, were directed by the Lord not Peter, and for the glory of God not for the glory of Peter.[10]

Peter maintained his leading role, even after Christ’s Ascension. He spoke to the crowds on the day of the Pentecost, and acted fearlessly performing miracles and preaching to the people.  He was firstly imprisoned by the Jewish Sanhedrin then by Herod Agrippa I, but was miraculously released from his prison cell. Following his action in Palestine, he ended up in Rome. He spent the last years of his life there and finally became a martyr during Nero’s persecutions between 64 and 67 A.D.  [11]

Tradition tells us that when Peter died as a martyr. When he was given the choice of how he should die, he said “I’d like to be crucified up-side-down because I am unworthy to die as my Lord died.”  The church historian Tertullian, Origen, and Eusebius state that Peter’s was stretched out by his hands, he was dressed in prison garb, he was taken where no one wanted to go (a crucifixion) and was crucified.

The Scriptures do not record this request of Peter. However, Jesus predicted Peter’s death and told him about it. “Verily, verily, I say to you, when you were young you dressed yourself and went wherever you wished, but when you get old you’ll have to stretch out your hands while someone else dresses you and takes you where you don’t want to go.” [12]

Christians also must be ready to stretch out their hands just like Peter.  The Christian walk will not be easy-contrary to popular preaching; it does not consist of abundant riches, pleasures and lack of trials and tribulations.  If you desire to “take up the cross and follow Jesus” there will be times you will want to quit.

C.S. Lewis once famously said, “If you want a religion that’s going to make you happy don’t pick Christianity.” Jesus commands us to carry the cross daily, not once a year, not when we feel like it and not on holidays…

Do you carry the cross every day?

[1] Whatchristianswanttoknow.com/ApostlePeterbiogrophy

[2] Gotquestions.org/whatshouldwelearnfromthelifeofpeter

[3] Religiousstudycenter/AndrewSkinner.  Peter the chief Apostle

[4] Bible-people info/PetermeetsJesus

[5] Aboutbibleprophecy.comPetertheapostle

[6] Historicjesus.com/Peter

[7] TruthBookSimonPeter

[8] Pemptosia/saintpeter

[9] Newlife/TheApostlePeter

[10] Themastersprayernetwork/Peterhtestone

[11] BiblieoticaTheologica/TheApostlePeter

[12] Biblesprout.com/HowdidtheapostlePeterdie?

 

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