A renewed passion to understand the life of Jesus and his followers has taken me on a journey into the Gospels.
I have attempted to put myself at the scene of that historic birth, help pick up the leftovers from that amazing lunch, questioned my faith on the stormy Galilee. I pushed myself through the crowd to receive his healing touch and heard him call my name at the Garden tomb.
Then there was the motley crew that he called his disciples. They were something else to write home about.
Peter really got me.He lived in a house in Capernaum with his wife and mother in law. He obviously was in business with his brother Andrew and was in partnership with James and John. My uncle was a fisherman, he was tall well built and had enormous hands that were well calloused. I envisioned these men to be similar in appearance.
It is difficult to pinpoint when Peter became Peter. Was it before or after the great catch? Was it Peter’s appearance that caused Jesus to look at this burly fisherman and change his name from Simon to Cephas which is Aramaic for Peter, which is Greek for Rock?
However and whenever it occurred, that great catch of fish, of all times in broad daylight, brought the Rock to his knees and in his impetuous manner he blurted out, “Lord leave, I am a sinner and can’t handle this holiness.” Jesus said there is nothing to fear, from now on you will be fishing for men and women.
In the three and half years that Jesus was with these guys, they really couldn’t figure him out. With all the coded messages and talks about the Kingdom coming, they kept looking for signs of a revolt against their oppressors the Romans. One day Jesus put it straight to them, “Who do YOU say that I am?” The silence was deafening until Peter broke it: “You’re the Christ the Son of the living God.” Matt 16:15-16. Jesus knew it took a lot to say that and he told him that he was the Rock he wanted to build his Church on.
In the same setting, Jesus was trying to explain to them that being the Christ was not going to be a bed of roses. He would soon suffer the tortures in Jerusalem and be killed. Peter couldn’t take it and blurted out, “God forbid, Lord, this shall never happen.” Jesus lit into him, who just a while ago he gave the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and said “Get behind me Satan.”
It wasn’t the only time Peter put his foot in his mouth. Would seven times be enough to forgive anyone person? Lord what deal to a person get if they leave everything to follow you? You Lord, wash my feet? Never!But when Jesus explained to him the role of being a servant he pretty much wanted Jesus to give him a bath.
Then there were those famous words, “Lord, I will lay down my life for you.” While Jesus was agonizing in the Garden, he found Peter sleeping and said, “Could you not watch with me one hour”? There was that horrible scene. The Rock was sitting out there in the high priest’s courtyard keeping warm by the fire while Jesus was being interrogated pretty much in front of him. Three times he told that girl, he didn’t know what on earth she was talking about, he had never seen the man before. He even stooped to cursing and swearing. The rooster crowed three times and Peter went out tears running down his face like water on a rock
Then there is this incredible scene at the Garden Tomb where a young man was sitting and told the alarmed seekers to go tell his disciples and PETER.
It was on the beach at daybreak. Peter had decided to go fishing that night along with some of his buddies. When they came ashore Jesus was cooking them breakfast. When it was over, he called Peter only this time he called him, “ Simon, son of John, do you love me?”and Peter said he did. Then he asked three times altogether. Maybe to make up for the three denials.
Then Jesus said,“Feed my lambs, Feed my sheep.”This time he got the point, even though he encountered a few blunders along the way. The keeper of the Keys, the ROCK never let the boss down from that day to this.
Writing to the dispersed church in 1 Peter 2:25 – For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.