Cynical about Simon Peter?
Would anyone do better?
Copyright © 2005
By Tim Roach

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Peter was the only person other than Jesus to walk on water, most likely the apostle with the strongest faith as he was given the keys of the kingdom of heaven and called the rock by Jesus. Yet he is always talked about negatively, many times worse than people talk about Judas. All for the 'mistake' of being naive and for making the choice of wanting live rather than be killed.

Peter walking on water.
Mat 14:29 And he said, Come. And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
Mat 14:30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

Peter gets the keys of the kingdom of heaven.
Mat 16:18 And I say also to thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church: and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Mat 16:19 And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatever thou shalt bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven; and whatever thou shalt loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven.

Most people start the story about Peter where Jesus is telling Peter that he will betray Him and then skip to the betrayal.

I want to work our way forward trying to put ourselves in Peter's shoes and seeing the events at least partially though his eyes. Jesus had just informed the disciples that one of them would betray Him to which they all asked who is it, is it me? With one exception Peter which said he would never betray or leave Jesus.

Jesus tried to give Peter a hint that with His next statements realizing that Satan was about to put all of the disciples into situations that none of them could have even guessed would happen.

It is important to remember, Peter being of stronger faith, Satan wanted to pull him down more than all the others. But as with many of us when someone tries to warn us about something that is about to happen we may hear the words, but we do not understand their meaning.

Jesus tells Peter of Satan's plan for him
Luk 22:31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:
Luk 22:32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not; and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
Luk 22:33 And he said to him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee both into prison, and to death.
Luk 22:34 And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, before thou wilt thrice deny that thou knowest me.

How many times though out our lives have we been told things that we truly believe can not be true or that it will never happen? How many times have we said we would never do something but then events and the situation forces us into doing that exact thing often before we even realize what we have done. Peter, nor any of the disciples, knew exactly what all was about to happen in the next 24 hours. For only Jesus at this point knew that all the 12 would be placed in very extraordinary situations very soon. Granted Jesus could have explained what was about to happen, but I think perhaps Jesus was making one more point to Peter, and all of us, that He is the son of God and that if He said that something will happen . . . it WILL happen; Regardless of what we think.

The next section is very important to understanding, what I think was going on in Peter's mind a bit later.
Luk 22:36 Then said he to them, But now he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his sack: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.
Luk 22:37 For I say to you, that this which is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.
Luk 22:38 And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said to them, It is enough.

Granted looking back there are many ways to interpret the statement which Jesus made. However if any of us were told to sell what we have to make sure we have weapons to defend ourselves. It would probably give us a lot to think about and we would probably start getting ourselves mentally prepared for a conflict. As it was no secret that there were many people in the area which wanted to do harm to all of them.

I am going to skip past the prayer in the garden, though there are many important lessons in that section. I do not want to get side tracked with the many things that were happening there.

Later that evening, we know Judas came in with guards from high priest.

Everything starts getting a little confused at this point, which is understandable as we are being told of events from different view points. Pretend you are sitting somewhere with several of your friends when all of the sudden military in full battle gear start coming in from every door and swarming around you. At that point you might can start to understand the confusion that was taking place when the guards showed up.

Luk 22:48 But Jesus said to him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?
Luk 22:49 When they who were about him, saw what would follow, they said to him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword?
Luk 22:50 And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear.
Luk 22:51 And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.
Luk 22:52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders who had come to him, Are ye come out as against a thief, with swords and staffs?
Luk 22:53 When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.
Luk 22:54 Then they took him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest's house. And Peter followed at a distance.

Peter tried to defend
Jesus stopped Peter

Joh 18:10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it, and smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus.
Joh 18:11 Then said Jesus to Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?

Remember from earlier that evening, Jesus had told the disciples to be sure to have swords. When the people started to move into take Jesus, Peter was probably thinking that this is the time that Jesus was refering to. And instinctively trying to defend his master drew his sword and struck. Then Jesus told him to stop this is not the time to be fighting. That had to be very confusing to Peter one minute he is being told to get weapons to defend the next he is being told to stand back and do nothing. I am sure all of us would be confused.

All but Peter and one other (Judas?) ran away
It is very interesting to me in the story everyone tells about Peter's mistakes and lack of faith. However no one seems to want to point out the fact that when the guards came, all the disciples ran from Jesus. Everyone likes to point the finger at Peter but ALL of the disciples are guilty of denying Jesus and running away. Peter is just the one that did something that was worth writing about. Or perhaps more accurately, the one that had the courage to tell others everything he did. Thus the one that opened himself up for the most ridicule. Peter could have decided never to tell anyone what happened after the others ran away, but he decided to share what happened regardless of the consequences. How many of us can honestly say we would be that brave and honest?

Mat 26:55 In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staffs to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.
Mat 26:56 But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.
Mat 26:57 And they that had laid hold on Jesus, led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.
Mat 26:58 But Peter followed him at a distance, to the high priest's palace, and went in, and sat with the servants to see the end.

- - - - -

Mar 14:48 And Jesus answered and said to them, Have ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staffs to take me?
Mar 14:49 I was daily with you in the temple, teaching, and ye took me not: but the scriptures must be fulfilled.
Mar 14:50 And they all forsook him, and fled.
Mar 14:51 And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him.
Mar 14:52 And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.
Mar 14:53 And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests, and the elders and the scribes.
Mar 14:54 And Peter followed him at a distance, even into the palace of the high priest: and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire.

Judas(?) walked back with Peter
Judas(?) Got Peter access to building

We know from John that Peter and the disciple known by the high priest went back to the palace behind Jesus. Other than Judas what disciple could it have been that was known by the high priest and had nothing to fear walking into the palace?

Joh 18:12 Then the band, and the captain, and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him,
Joh 18:13 And led him away to Annas first, (for he was father-in-law to Caiaphas, who was the high priest that same year.)
Joh 18:14 Now Caiaphas was he who gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.
Joh 18:15 And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. That disciple was known to the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest.
Joh 18:16 But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple who was known to the high priest, and spoke to her that kept the door, and brought in Peter.

If it was Judas that got Peter into the castle, Peter had to decide if Judas had betrayed him as well. He had to deside in an instant was it a trap? And how he would be best be able to help Jesus; should he admit who he is and be captured or keep it a secret to remain free?

Joh 18:16 But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple who was known to the high priest, and spoke to her that kept the door, and brought in Peter.
Joh 18:17 Then saith the damsel that kept the door to Peter, Art not thou also one of this man's disciples? He saith, I am not.
Joh 18:18 And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; (for it was cold) and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself.

Peter knew that if anyone in the Palace realized he was a disciple that he could be arrested and most likely executed. He also had the extra burden of worrying about what would happen to his family. For if he was arrested the guards would likely be sent to arrest his family as well.

Peter married? He would have also had to consider what would happen to his family if the guards and people knew he was one of Jesus' disciples.

Mar 1:29 And forthwith, when they had come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.
Mar 1:30 But the mother of Simon's wife lay sick with a fever; and forthwith they tell him of her.

Peter knew he needed/wanted to stay as close to Jesus as he could. But what good would he be to Jesus if he was arrested and executed? He had to decided in a split second what his best course of action would be. Unfortunately he had also walked into a very masterfully laid out trap which Satan had created for him. A trap which was pushing all the right buttons and making a situation where Peter was left with the choice of:
1. Tell the truth, probably be arrested, probably get executed, along with the rest of his family and have the faith/message of Jesus die with him.
2. Lie in order to live, to keep as close to Jesus as he physically could and be able to share the faith/message of Jesus to others.

When put in that skillful of a trap, I find it difficult to believe that anyone would have done anything different.

I think that while most people place the emphases of the story of Peter denying Jesus, the real emphases should be placed on the fact that Jesus knew that if the right situation and the proper circumstances occur Peter, or any of us for that matter, will in a split second decision will do things we never thought possible.

It is easy to say we would never make the same mistakes as others have made. However, until one is actually in the same situation where in a fraction of a second you must decide what to do, none of us truly know what choices we will make.

There are many lessons to be learned from what happened to Peter and what he did. However if all that you remember is that Peter made a mistake; then, my friend, I fear that you have missed the whole point.

- - - - -

The bible being the interesting interwoven book that it is, I wonder if one of the many lessons that should be remembered when talking about ANY of the people in this section of the bible is:

Mat 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
Mat 7:2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you.

Just one last thing to think about when talking about Peter . . . Who is it that holds the keys of the kingdom of heaven?

disciple list

1. simon//Peter or cephas
2. James (the elder) // --none--
3. John (the beloved disciple) // --none-- (although BOTH James and John we also called "sons of thunder" or "Boanerges")
4. Andrew (brother of simon) // --none--
5. Philip // --none--
6. Nathanael // Bartholomew
7. Thomas // Didymous
8. Matthew // Levi
9. James (the younger, the less) // --none--
10. Jude // Thaddeus
11. Simon // The Zealot
12. Judas // Iscariot

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Copyright © 2005 by Timothy Allen Roach All Rights Reserved.
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Page last modified: 9/22/2017