The Right Answer, Right?–Fall after Pride.




You think you know someone.  You spend time each other.  Eat together.  Laugh together.  Maybe you and the other person or persons have a common mission (so you think) and every thing is hunky-dory.  Then they have the nerve to call for a redefinition of the status! 


Simon Peter had just had a good moment with Rabbi Jesus and then his parade was rained on.  By parade I mean that Simon Peter got the right answer to a bottom line question of Jesus and then was reaffirmed to be the first among the apostles.  Life is good this beautiful day until it’s not. 



Matthew 16: 21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Being called Satan by the Son of God must have been devastating.  First, Peter knew now for sure who Jesus was and was esteemed by Him.  Even more, Peter was trying to impose his will over  Jesus because his heart was overwhelmed with Jesus going away from life as he knew it in every way. 


Yes, the message of the cross is foolishness to the carnal mind.  But as we see in the words of Jesus, these were “merely human concerns.”  To have those are not in themselves evil but if what you do them is superimpose those concerns over what the Lord says is flipping the paradigm of surrender that a disciple is called to. 


This begs the question; was Jesus mean?  No, I know Jesus loved Peter.  Jesus loved Peter as an uneducated fisherman with warts and all.  But He loved Peter too much to let him stay that way. 


And we see later that it worked.  Peter says later when many disciples desert Jesus in John 6:68 “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”


That is a sign that Peter benefited from the rebuke in a way that was not entirely obvious.  Peter uses Holy One to emphasize how Jesus is worthy of their dedication.  That was a stone laid on top of his rebuke he received.  But later, it gets much better.


Fifty-three days after Peter’s worst nightmare came true, the kingdom that Jesus preached was coming into bloom.  It was Pentecost, or the Feast of Trumpets and Peter uses that term again but now with resurrection after the realized nightmare behind him.  Quoting the Psalms he says, “because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
you will not let your Holy One see decay.”


Is the opposite of belief, unbelief?  I heard a good case made by Steven Ray recently that the opposite of belief is disobedience because the word “belief” is a pregnant word that presupposes obedience.  Peter could have learned from the Obedience 101 of the movie Rudy.  “There is a God and I am not Him.”  Ideally, when Peter was presented the game changer for discipleship, he would say as we should say, “Your will be done.”


Mercy Beats Judgement



I have been shocked to hear about the persecution of Christians in Egypt.  On the news they have talked mostly about the Coptic Christians but in church today they mentioned that it is against Christians of many backgrounds.  One that broke my heart was the shooting death of a 10-year old girl when she was walking home from a bible study. 


This in a way brings me back to Peter.  Though it is not the one I was going to write about, I hope to bring some perspective to a current event.


John18: 10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)

11 Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”


Matthew 27: 51 With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

52 “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?



I had a vision today when I heard about the violence from the Islamist extremists.  Scores of helicopters coming down on the evildoers.  Expert snipers wrecking havoc on lots of kill spots of lots of evil brains.  Then lots of Christians saying “Yes!  Justice is served!”


But that vision is not of God.  I start in seeing Jesus in the least of my brethren that are obviously unable to match force with force.  They are innocent and do not deserve to be led like sheep to the slaughter.   But my mind goes astray from the lesson of Jesus in that passage in how he wanted to say there is a cup of sacrifice for a greater purpose than we can fathom.  In my faith community the term is redemptive suffering.  That is to say that there is a way to worship, or adore with reckless abandon, God in our suffering and with it.  It is a cup that Jesus drank to the point of death as did 11 out of 12 disciples.  The seed dies and produces good fruit. 


That is not to say that the crucifixion is just nor the persecution of the innocent of Egypt.  But what Jesus clearly wanted to tell Peter, and us today, is that violence is not in itself as redemptive as laying ones self down in love.  Before we reach for the sword, look to the cross of Christ and ask what we can do instead of violence.  And how can the light of Christ be shown better when the gun is laid aside for the cross? 


I will leave you with one other quote.  From Scott Hahn, “Suffering without love is unendurable.  Love without suffering is meaningless.”   So choose love with an open door for both. 

Right Answer, Right? Part II





It’s great to receive a compliment.  Even better is a compliment with a promotion.  It’s awesome and beats demotion. 


That is what Simon Peter gets here.  But we will see the compliment and promotion comes with a challenge to see past what is on the surface.   


17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter,[b] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[c] will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be[d] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[e] loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.”


The challenge starts with the “son of Jonah” part.  I say that because Jesus calls him that as an additional name of calling to distinguish him.  We know from John 1:42 that Simon Peter was the son of John (no relation to the NT writer).  Jesus was no stranger to that.  We know that James and John were the sons of Zebedee but Jesus calls them Boanerges (Sons of Thunder).  There is a dig in that because Jesus was in a scene with them being impulsive. 


More on Jonah.  Jonah in the OT means “Dove”.  Jonah was called to preach repentance to Nineveh.  He ran from God, was interrupted by a whale and still fulfilled his called.  Simon Peter would keep being a follower of Jesus but would go astray only to come back into the Shepherd’s fold. 


“[T]his was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.”  More on the dove part.  Jesus said “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” John 14:26).  The Holy Spirit came upon Jesus as a dove specifically.  Really the three persons in this exchange are the Trinity and Peter.  So on the bright side, there is hope long-term because of the well that Peter draws from is the same Spirit of sonship that helps us to cry out “Abba, Father.”


Romans 8:15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, Abba, Father.”
Romans 8:14-16 (in Context) Romans 8 (Whole Chapter) Other Translations

   Galatians 4:6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, Abba, Father.”


Much earlier, Jesus told Simon son of Jonah that he would be called Cephas, or Peter.  Now we see him to be a “son” of a world changing calling.  Moreover, it would be upon his mission that he would become the prime minister of the church also known as the pope (there have even been several Protestant theologians that say he was a pope, albeit the first and last).    


So on this revelation of sonship brought about by the Holy Spirit is the church.  It is important to know that it was not stained glass windows, pews or steeple that was on Jesus’ mind.  It was the called out community that is called into the joint experience of Christ.  The important lesson here is the you cannot divorce the Body from the Head.  The Spirit of God is integral to binding together Christians but with the human leadership to keep things in perspective.


But why the authority of man?  For one thing, take apart the word for church, ekklesia.  That word in the Greek was used for small towns that operated as democracies.   When it was time to vote, there was an ek rallying cry to come together for the joint purpose of voting. 


So how can people who want to follow Jesus be drawn to a common purpose unless there is someone on earth in leadership?  Somebody needs to announce what is going on with the mind of Christ.  So for a start, the “Apostle and High Priest of our good confession” (Hebrews 12:1) chooses an impulsive, loud mouthed, thrice denying fisherman from Galilee to be the first in that role.  Jesus was grooming Simon Peter for a role that would be immensely dependent on revelation from the Spirit, that it is now wonder that his words for him were passionate in encouragement and in rebuke (as we will see next time). 


Maybe if you are reading this, it is too difficult by experience to be open to organized religion.  For a start, open your heart to the call of Jesus.  Ask Jesus “Who are you? Where do I belong? How do you see me?”  The journey for Simon Peter or any other humble seeker is to let those questions boil in our hearts and out through the lives we lead.