Day 3: Peter’s Personal References
To my Soul Searching Brothers and Sisters, I wanted to let you know that I feel much better today! Thank you for your thoughts and prayers! It truly means a lot to me.
The last time we were together, we discovered Peter had a criminal record! Well, at least he would have if Jesus hadn’t graciously put the solider’s ear back on his head and healed him. So! Let’s review Peter’s personal references before we get too self righteous. Maybe we will learn a little more about our brother.
Speaking of personal references, every one of us will require a personal reference at some point in our lives. When we look to someone to speak positively about us, the person at the other end of the phone, letter, email, or in-person discussion can be our greatest supporter; however, he or she can sometimes be our undoing. Let’s see what happens when we read our brother Peter’s personal references.
- Fellow disciples: Okay! We have a reference here from some fellow disciples. Uh, oh! This isn’t good, guys. According to the disciples, Peter rebuked Jesus! To make sure we are on the same page, the word rebuke means to express sharp disapproval or criticism of someone because of their behavior or actions. I’m speechless! I mean, he actually had the nerve to rebuke the Messiah, the Savior, the one they’d been waiting for! According to the disciples, after Jesus predicted his death and explained what He must suffer for the sins of the world, “Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” (Matthew 16:22 NIV). One could argue that Peter loved Jesus so much that he didn’t want to see Him harmed; however, “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.” (Matthew 16:23 NIV). I wonder how many times I’ve been guilty of that. Nevermind! This isn’t about me, right?
- Anonymous source: According to an anonymous source, Peter acted like he didn’t even know Jesus! (Luke 22:54-62 NIV) When they seized Jesus and took Him away to be arrested and later crucified, Peter followed close behind him. On three different occasions, people asked him if he knew Jesus, and he denied it three times. Now I don’t know about you, but I can feel my self- righteousness taking center-stage. I mean, how dare he deny Jesus? Yet, as I begin to do a little soul searching, I realize that I’ve denied Jesus over three times in my life. I’ve been in conversations and situations when I should have proclaimed the name of Jesus, but I held back because I wanted to fit in with the crowd. I held back because I didn’t want to ruffle feathers. I held back because I didn’t want to be criticized. How about you? Oh, I’m sorry! This isn’t about us. This is about Peter!
- A follower of Christ– Wait a minute! This is interesting. According to a follower of Christ, Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit. He walked so closely with God that his shadow could heal people. “…People brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by.” (Acts 5:15 NIV). Wow! That’s powerful.
- Cornelius– Cornelius was a God-fearing man. (The word God-fearing was used to describe Gentiles or non-Jewish people, who loved and feared the Lord. According to Cornelius, he asked Peter to come to his home after an angel instructed him to do so. When Peter arrived, the first thing he said to Cornelius and his family was: “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile.” Now he said some other things too, but I can’t seem to move past the first statement! (You know, how it is). We tend to remember the worst thing that someone ever says! Well, I’m speechless! Okay, I really need to stop saying that because every time I say it, I say something else, but you know what I mean. Peter walked with Jesus! He saw Him interacting with people, who were not acceptable to interact with according to Jewish customs and law. Why didn’t Peter emulate that part of his ministry? So, here I am again, wondering and reflecting upon times in my life, when I allowed the culture around me to influence my decisions. Stop it, Nicole! Please. This is about… our brother, Peter. We’re trying to learn more about his life. Not ours, right?
- Paul: This reference is from Paul. You know Paul. He wrote most of the New Testament. He had one of the greatest encounters in history with the Lord, so you know this is going to be good! Well, according to Paul, he had to confront Peter – a fellow apostle at the time- about his hypocrisy toward the Gentiles. “…When Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong. When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile believers, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision. As a result, other Jewish believers followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.”
So! I don’t know about you, but it definitely sounds like Peter had some biases toward the Gentiles. Stereoytypes are cognitive biases. It’s what we think about people or situations. He considered the Gentiles to be unclean. In his defense, it was the Jewish law, but Jesus did not live by that law when He walked the Earth. He did not withhold his love, miracles, signs, and wonders from people who weren’t 100% Jewish. Why did Peter? Prejudices are an emotional bias. It’s how you feel about people or situations. Peter was uncomfortable being around the Gentiles because he was afraid of what people would say and think. Discrimination is a behavioral bias. It’s how you treat people. As an apostle, Peter would not eat with Gentiles because he did not want to be criticized by other Jewish people, who were still bound by Jewish law. So, I shouldn’t have titled this, Peter, The Prejudice One! I should have titled this, Peter, The Bias One.
So, this is my question? Why did Jesus ask Peter to become a disciple in the first place? Why does he ask any of us to follow him for that matter? Why would He trust us to share the gospel with anyone? We’re clearly not worthy! Our hearts and minds are plagued with biases. Biases that divide us. Biases that we run from and ignore. Think about it. Then, go to the Father and pray about it.
#Soul Searching with Our Father#
Coming up Next: Peter, The Disciple
…Something tells me there’s a lesson in it for all of us!