A little history about Peter’s relationship with Jesus:
One of the first 2 disciples called by Jesus
- He was a fisherman (Jesus asked him to leave everything and “Follow Me”) He did
- Walked on the water to Jesus (yes he sank but he was the only one to get out of the boat)
- Was in Jesus’ inner circle of friends (Peter, James and John)
- Jesus says of Peter “Upon this rock I will build my church”
Maundy Thursday: Commands or Commandment Thursday, the night before the crucifixion
A look at the Passover Meal and the time Jesus spent with the disciples on Maundy Thursday.
During the Passover Meal, Jesus addresses the disciples and tells of one who will betray Him. They questioned each other and asked Jesus who it would be. (Maybe they knew or wondered if they were capable of betraying Jesus. Do we question if we are capable of this?)
Side note… in Matthew’s gospel when Judas is betraying Jesus, Jesus says to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Not sure I could refer to someone as friend knowing they were about to betray me that way.
After the meal: Jesus tells Peter he is going to deny three times that he even knows Jesus.
Peter’s reply: I will never deny you. I will die with you and for you.
In the garden: When Jesus is arrested, Peter cuts off the ear of one of the soldiers. I doubt he was aiming for the ear. He probably wanted to do much more harm. By the way, Jesus healed the ear of the one who was arresting him. (So if you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, HE STILL CARES ABOUT YOU AND YOUR NEEDS)
Leading to the cross: Why is the cross so important? It is the sacrifice that changes lives. But some people won’t come to Jesus because they don’t feel they can be forgiven. They say, “You don’t know what I’ve done” That’s right but let’s look at what some people did do and Jesus’ response.
When Jesus was taken in to the temple courtyard for “trial” Peter followed in at a distant. It must have been cold because several of the Gospels state he was standing by a fire to warm himself.
On three different occasions, not one but three, he was asked “if he knew Jesus, or wasn’t he one of his followers?” THREE times Peter denied he even knew who Jesus was.
Think about that. Remember who Peter was. Remember that relationship with Jesus. So we know Peter denied Jesus completely. We will come back to this and see how Jesus responded to Peter.
At the cross:
“You don’t know what I’ve done.” Look what these people did…
They beat Jesus beyond recognition, stripped him, made fun of him, pulled part of his beard out, put a crown of thorns on his head, gambled for his clothes, tortured him by nailing him to a cross (tree), pierced his side (he endured this pain on the cross for 6 hours)… they did all this to an innocent man…all the while HE COULD HAVE COME DOWN! This is what we know people did to Jesus. How did Jesus respond? Father, forgive them.
Back to Peter. Jesus is dead. His last encounter with him was denial. No time for apologies. No time to ask Jesus to forgive him. Imagine that guilt. Feel it. Experience it. How would you feel if you were Peter?
Jesus is placed in a tomb. The disciples are scared for their own lives and mourning the death of their friend; the One they left everything for. It wasn’t supposed to end like this, even though Jesus told them it would.
Some people say, “I don’t have enough faith or I don’t understand things enough to follow Jesus.” Let me ask you a question. Where were the disciples? Answer: Huddled in a room together. If they had the right amount of faith (whatever that would be) where would they have been? They would have been at the cemetery waiting on Jesus to come out of the grave. But they were nowhere to be found.
So, the women went to prepare the body and found that HE was not there. What they did find was the stone rolled away and an angel there.
Mark’s gospel account says that he told the women to go back and tell the disciples AND Peter to go ahead into Galilee and wait for Jesus.
Luke’s gospel account says that when the women came back to tell the disciples Jesus wasn’t in the tomb, they didn’t believe the women, BUT Peter got up and RAN to the tomb.
John’s gospel says that Peter and John ran to the tomb. John got there first but didn’t go in. Peter got there and went in.
What do you think Peter was feeling now? Remember that guilt? That loss? What if Jesus was alive? How would he face HIM? Wouldn’t it be awkward? Would it or could it be the same?
So now Jesus meets them in Galilee…around a fire. Remember back the last time Peter was near Jesus. He was denying him by a fire.
So how does Jesus respond to Peter? Well, first they ate together. Jesus again served them a meal. Then it’s time to talk with Peter. Can you imagine how that must have felt for Peter? Jesus asks him a question. “Why did you deny me? How could you? You said you would die with me.” NO, Jesus asks him, “Peter, do you love me?” THREE times Jesus repeats this question. Three times Peter says he does. Then Jesus tells him to feed my sheep. (serve me and others) And Jesus last words to Peter, “You must follow me.” Remember His first word, “Follow me.”
Peter, at that fire was a changed man! Jesus was alive and Peter realized JESUS IS WHO HE SAID HE IS.
Peter was the one who the church was built upon. Meaning he was the one who started or continued the Christian movemet. He’s no longer denying Jesus but PROCLAIMING JESUS IS WHO HE SAYS HE IS… The SON OF GOD WHO FORGIVES SINS. THAT FINAL PASSOVER SACRIFICE!!!
Peter then begins to tell others about Jesus. Look at how Peter has changed and grown.
Acts 4:8-13 (NLT)
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of our people, 9 are we being questioned today because we’ve done a good deed for a crippled man? Do you want to know how he was healed? 10 Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene,[a] the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead. 11 For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says,
‘The stone that you builders rejected
has now become the cornerstone.’[b]
12 There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”
13 The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.
Do people recognize me that I have been with Jesus?
Peter teaches us that it is better to follow and fail than fail to follow.
Do you think Peter ever wished he had just stayed a fisherman?
Some days maybe, but I think he would tell us, “Follow Jesus, you MUST follow Jesus for a life worth living!”