Impulsive Peter

Peter was the magnificent failure.  But I’m grateful for his story.  As we examine his life and his actions and decisions, we see a man who was so much like us.  I relate and understand Peter more then any other disciple in the New Testament.  He was so real. He was so impulsive. He spoke before he thought, jumped in without looking and acted without thinking it through. Let’s take a look at Peter’s life after he met Jesus.

1) Peter, the fisherman-– When Jesus came to where  the boat was kept, Peter latched on immediately to become a disciple.  Jesus said, “Follow Me” and that is all Peter needed to hear.  (Matt 4:18-20; Matt. 14:25-31).

2) Peter, the bold-– There was a situation on a boat in a terrible storm.  It was between 3:00 am and 6:00 am.  These men are desperately exhausted, and they were still three miles from safety.  They suddenly see what appears to be a ghost, walking through the vicious storm to the boat.  It is Jesus!  He is walking on water, as if it were a sidewalk!

Peter shouts out– “Lord, if it is really you, allow me to leave this boat and let me come to you!”  Peter steps out of the boat, and begins to walk– on water!  But the wind whipping frightened him, and he began to sink.  We see Jesus, reaching out to grab Peter, to save him from drowning.  Before we judge him too harshly, how many of us would do what Peter did?

3) Peter, the confessor— Jesus asked His disciples who they thought He was. Peter was the first to acknowledge Jesus’ deity as the Son of the living God. (Matt. 16:15-16)

4) Peter, the witness— Peter, along with James and John, have been chosen to accompany Jesus to go up to a mountain top to pray.  When they arrive, something happens to Jesus.  He is ‘transfigured’, His clothes shimmer and turn white.    Then Moses and Elijah appeared, talking with Jesus. Being a man of action and not knowing what else to do, Peter offered to build shelters for the three holy men. An authoritative voice from heaven let him know that this was a time to worship, and to learn (Matt 17:1-4, Luke 9:28-36).

5) Peter, the reluctant one— Just before their last Passover, Jesus starts acting strange.  He strips off His outer garments, until He is down to His underwear.  He fills a basin with water, grabs a towel, and then begins to wash everyone’s feet.  He has become the servant to His disciples.  And Jesus will declare that this specific path is for every disciple that will follow.  Peter is incensed, and declares himself to be immune from this claim.

6) Peter, the boaster— Jesus explains that the disciples cannot follow Him.   Peter boasted that he would lay down his life for Jesus. This brought Jesus’ prediction that Peter would deny Him three times that very night. I wonder what Peter thought about this. He may have found it hard to believe, but we know that Jesus never lies.

When Jesus is arrested, Peter follows the cohort into the Temple.  It is at this point, Peter begins to outright deny Jesus.  It seems Peter can’t vocalize any support for His teacher and master.  In his craven fear, Peter denies Him who spoke and taught him.  How very sad,  (John 13 and 18).

7) Peter the repentant— Jesus appeared to them again by the Sea of Gaililee.  It is Peter, who from his fishing boat, identifies Jesus as Jesus.  Once again, he jumps out of the boat, but this time to swim to the shore.  The others follow in the boat.  Jesus has started a fire, and fish are frying. On the shore, when they had finished eating, Jesus restores Peter. Peter reaffirmed his love for Jesus three times – the same number of times he had denied Him. Jesus said to Peter, “Follow me.”

From that point, Peter followed Jesus closely. He went on to be a great preacher of the gospel and a leader of the church. He wrote 1st and 2nd Peter in the New Testament.  In the Book of Acts, we see Peter cooperating closely with the Holy Spirit.  His compulsiveness has been majorly modified and adapted to fit into the Kingdom.  Peter is now a man restrained and directed into God’s Kingdom.

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Becoming a Part of What is Really Real

 

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“Six days later, three of them saw that glory. Jesus took Peter and the brothers, James and John, and led them up a high mountain. His appearance changed from the inside out, right before their eyes. Sunlight poured from his face. His clothes were filled with light.”

Matthew 17:1-2, The Message

These three disciples belonged to the inner circle of our Lord’s friends. There must have been something in them that peculiarly endeared them to Him. We know that Peter was a leader among the apostles, and also a bold confessor; that John was “the disciple whom Jesus loved;” and that James was the first of the band to die as a martyr.

It is very encouraging to look at Peter who was admitted to such high privileges; a man with so many faults, who made so many mistakes, who even at the last shamefully denied Christ, and yet we remember that he was one of our Lord’s closest friends. It gives encouragement to us that, with all our faults, we may yet be very dear to Christ.

It does not seem so strange that John was allowed to enter the inner circle. His disposition was gentle and amiable, very much like the Master’s. Yet it is probable that John owed his sweetness and gentleness of character to his being with Jesus. It could be he was not always a man of love.

rose-little1There is a Persian fable of a piece of clay made fragrant by lying on a rose; the perfume of the rose passed into the clay. So it probably was with John. He crept into his Master’s bosom, and lay close to His heart; and his Master’s spirit of love and gentleness passed into his life and transformed it. Thus we have a lesson, too, from John: constant and loving communion with Christ will change us into His likeness.

The lesson from this choosing of three out of the whole band for peculiar privileges is that while Jesus loves all His friends, there are certain ones whom He takes into closer confidence than the others. There are degrees of nearness to Him, even in this world. Should we not strive to be among those who, by disposition and by service, win their way to the closest places? We must remember that those who serve most are chiefest. –JRM

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kyrie elesion, Bryan

(Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner)
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The Tabloids Were Scandalous!

scandalous‘Scandalizing is celebrated openly today. We’ll manipulate and defame so all will pretty much see our enemies as disgraceful or hypocritical. It makes me want to cry when I hear of this intimidation inside the Church. Jesus told us that this would really, truly happen. We shouldn’t be at all disturbed. To be hurt this way is very much part of being his disciple.

In Matthew 11:2-6, 2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 

4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

Offended. The word in our Greek N.T. is “skandalon.” It’s used in many ways, but the most amazing one is defined as, “the trigger of a trap, to kill an animal. To be the trap wire or stick used to catch prey; a snare.” We have the word scandalous, or to be involved in a vicious manipulation, scandal. Another metaphor is that it’s like the “fly paper” that’s hung up in the barn to catch those big nasty flies. 

Jesus dug up his dictionary, and chose this very specific word to communicate what he wanted. Of men and women, boys and girls caught in something they can’t get out of without help. John the Baptist, languishing in a dark place, wants to understand Jesus. John seems to expect Jesus to hop on a white stallion, and forcefully exert his messianic role.

Jesus will send his message. “You’re blessed indeed, if you do not stumble” (or get trapped) by the misconceptions. John confined in Herod’s dungeon, would be meticulously praised by Jesus. The Lord honors his own openly.

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It is easy to take up offense, (whether right or wrong.) When we hear a message causing shock, anger, repulsion, or disgust; that is a pretty good indicator that you are being “scandalized.” And turn-around is fair play. We might be the scandalizer, or the victim. It happens all the time.

Are you trapping– or are you trapped? Either way we need to stop it. We can’t continue to trip others up– nor can we allow others to foist their trap on us either. The Gospel regards itself as a ‘stumbling block. For some agnostics’, Jesus is someone they keep tripping over. But for the believer, Jesus is a ‘climbing up’ stone!

Worship is the finest defense. People who stumble, or cause another to stumble are usually…

  • grim,
  • guilty,
  • and grouchy.

They become graceless and sterile in the important matters of the heart. They become rigid and bitter.

The man or woman who stands up for their faith, and who doesn’t fall away or let their zeal ‘leak away,’ is incredibly blessed. God however is ready to forgive all those who backslide and then repent, but is especially pleased with those– like John, who hold firm to the faith.

 

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