In Mark 8:32, Peter rebuked Jesus. I can see myself doing that.
I used to sing a song with my kids that says Peter was impetuous, always fussing about something. This gives me a picture of Peter repeatedly sticking his foot in his mouth, acting before he thinks. That’s me too.
Peter reminded Jesus that he had left everything to follow him, and asked what he got in exchange. Matthew 19:27.
Peter challenged Jesus for wanting to wash his feet. John 13:6-8.
He sliced an ear off one of those who came to arrest Jesus. John 18:10.
When Jesus told Peter how he would die, Peter wanted to know how John’s life would turn out. John 21:21.
Peter asked many other questions: When would the destruction of Jerusalem come? Mark 13:3-4. Was seven times enough for him to forgive someone? Matthew 18:21.
He was always willing to speak up to Jesus, questioning him when he searched for one person among the many who crowded around him. Luke 8:45.
Peter had great highs and lows, not always separated by much time. One day he declared that Jesus was the Messiah. Almost immediately he rebuked Jesus when he told the disciples he was going to die. Mark 8:29-32.
Peter made quick promises, and I am sure he intended to keep them. He said he would never deny Jesus, not even if he had to die with him. Matthew 26:35.
Jesus knew Peter’s heart. He knew Peter was someone worth working on, sometimes with honor, sometimes with stern reproach.
When Peter rebuked Jesus, Jesus made sure all his disciples knew who was really behind it: “Get behind me, Satan!” Mark 8:33.
But he spoke the words to Peter, and how humiliating, and heartbreaking, that must have been.
Peter was one of the few disciples Jesus invited to accompany him to the transfiguration, into the room of the dead girl he raised back to life, to stay close to him while he prayed in the garden. Matthew 17:1; Luke 8:51-56; Mark 14:33.
Surely the transfiguration must have been something that stole the disciples’ breath. But Peter didn’t want to admit he was speechless. He immediately said he had a good plan, to set up booths to honor Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. God the Father stepped in and handled the matter himself. He reminded Peter to listen to Jesus, and then they were left with “just plain Jesus,” as I once heard a teacher say. Matthew 17:1-8.
When Jesus walked on the water, Peter was quick to say he wanted to join him. Arrogant or brave? Maybe a little of both, but I wish I had Peter’s readiness to jump into the thick of things with Jesus. Matthew 14:28.
And yes, he did deny Jesus, but first, Peter was one of only two of Jesus’ disciples who went with him when he was put on trial. Everyone else ran away. John 18:15. Matthew 26:56.
Peter recognized his sin. He wept with heartbreak when Jesus looked at him after his denial. Luke 22:60-62.
Jesus knew how filled with sorrow Peter was after denying him. When the women found Jesus after his resurrection, he specifically named Peter as one they should inform. He wanted Peter to know how important he still was to Jesus. Mark 16:7.
Peter fumbled and stumbled and fell. But taking Jesus’ hand, he climbed to his feet and moved on. I see so much of my own weakness in Peter. Yet his example brings me great hope.
Peter knew he was a sinner, and he knew who to turn to for rescue.
Luke 5:8: When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”
Peter was a comfort to Jesus.
John 6:67-69: “‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.’”
Jesus asked Peter to care for his people. John 21:15-17. Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, and Jesus saved around three thousand people that day. Acts 2:41.
Peter was still bold and outspoken in Acts. Acts 3:12-25; Acts 5:1-10. Acts 5:29: “Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than human beings!’”
Peter was willing to speak of Jesus before the leaders, even though he understood how risky that would be. Acts 4:8-12.
Jesus gave Peter the privilege of helping to bring a believer back to life. Acts 9:39-41.
Peter was a respected leader in the new church. But he still messed up sometimes. Paul had to rebuke Peter for how he dealt with Gentiles. Galatians 2:11-14.
Did he mess up again? Knowing how Christians struggle as they live in the world—knowing my own heart—I believe he probably did.
But, two letters of his writing were given the honor of being in the Bible. Take time to study First and Second Peter.
1 Peter 1:3: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
1 Peter 5: 6-7: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
Peter accepted God’s forgiveness and allowed himself to be used as a servant, teacher, carrier of hope. I pray that I can grow to take a few of his steps.