Friday, September 2, 2016

Life of Peter in The Gospel of Matthew


Jesus had twelve disciples and Peter was the disciple who was the most prominent one of all the disciples. In Matthew’s Gospel, Peter is listed as the first disciple who was called by Jesus. In all references to Jesus’s disciples, Peter is always given the first position.

Jesus's call of Peter

After John had been put in prison, Jesus continues with the message “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”. And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him. (Matthew 4:18-20). This tells us that as soon as Peter was called he immediately followed Jesus, together with his brother Andrew. This shows us that Peter was a man of immediate action and never a procrastinator. Peter was a professional fishermen and Jesus called him into something totally new to him and without any hesitation he readily followed Jesus.

Healing of Peter’s Mother-in-Law

The next event where Peter is specifically named in the Book of Matthew is when Jesus healed Peter’s Mother-in-Law. Now when Jesus had come into Peter’s house, He saw his wife’s mother lying sick with a fever. So He touched her hand, and the fever left her. And she arose and served them. (Matthew 8:14-15). This tells us that Peter was married and that he had a family there. His mother-in-law seems to have been a part of Peter’s household. As soon as Jesus touched her hand the fever left her and immediately she took on the role of the hostess of the house and served Jesus and all others that were in Peter’s house. It is also possible that Jesus might have stayed in Peter’s house from time to time during his ministry through that region.

First of Twelve Apostles

Again when the 12 Apostles are listed in the Book of Matthew we see that Peter is listed as the first Apostle. And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him (Matthew 10:1-4). Jesus had two Simons among his 12 disciples and we are told here that the first disciple was Simon, who is also called Peter.

Peter attempts to walk on Water

Peter was always quick to act and when he saw Jesus was walking on water he too wanted to follow his master and walk on water. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. (Matthew 14:25-32). When all the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water all of them were afraid thinking it was a ghost. Then Jesus assured them that he was Jesus and not a ghost. Seeing Jesus walking on the water faith developed within Peter that like Jesus he too could also walk on water. When Jesus gave Peter the command to come to Jesus on the water Peter got out of the boat and started to go towards Jesus on the water. He was not able to completely walk towards Jesus, because he saw the boisterous wind and became afraid and began to sink and Jesus had to stretch out his hand and save Peter.

Peter recognizes that Jesus is the Christ

Peter was the first disciple to recognize that Jesus is the Christ. When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ. (Matthew 16:13-20). When Jesus asked the disciples about who he was, Peter who had been with Jesus for so many months now knew that Jesus was not an ordinary person and there was something extraordinary about him. He, by the discernment of the Holy Spirit perceived that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Jesus rebukes Peter

The disciples thought that the Messiah would come to rule with Power and Authority. Hence Peter was expecting Jesus to rule with Power and Authority. From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:21-23) Since Peter was expecting Jesus to rule, when Jesus said that that he had to go to Jerusalem to suffer many things it appeared to Peter Jesus was not carrying out the ministry which he thought that the messiah would do. Hence he was trying to correct Jesus. Then Jesus had to rebuke Peter that he was not thinking the way that Jesus was thinking and that he had to change his thinking to think the way Jesus was thinking.

Peter witnessed Jesus Transfiguration

After Peter had recognized that Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus now takes Peter, James and John to show them his divine nature. Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. (Matthew 17:1-8) When Peter witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus and the true nature of Jesus he was overwhelmed and he really did not know what to say. He recognized that Moses and Elijah were with Jesus and he wanted them to be permanently with hence suggested that they build tabernacles for them.

Peter pays Temple Tax of Jesus

When Temple Tax collectors approached Peter about the Temple Tax of Jesus, Jesus showed how Peter should pay the Temple Tax for both of them. When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?” He said, “Yes.” And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?” Peter said to Him, “From strangers.” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you.” (Matthew 17:24-27) The conversation that Jesus had with Peter tells us Jesus was of the household and only strangers had to pay tax. After having clarified that in God’s eye he did not have to pay the Temple Tax nevertheless paid it so as not to offend the Temple Authorities. He shows Peter how to obtain the coin needed to pay for the Temple Tax of both Jesus and Peter.

Jesus’s prediction of Peter’s denial

Jesus predicted that all disciples will leave him the night of his arrest and that Peter will deny him three times. Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.” Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And so said all the disciples. (Matthew 26:31-35) Peter thought that he was not weak as Jesus had told him and thought that he will be firmly with Jesus, even if some other disciples left Jesus.

Peter’s denial of Jesus

After Jesus was arrested Peter followed him from a distance to see what would happen to Jesus. Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.”But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.”And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.” But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!” And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.” Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:69-75) Only when Peter had denied Jesus three times he realized what Jesus has had earlier predicted. Now he knew his weakness and that broke him to know that he did not stand with his master at this time.

Lessons that can be learnt

  • Peter was always quick to react and sometimes it was not the best response.
  • Peter was very quick to say that he would not deny Jesus, but he could not fulfil that promise. So it is better not to make statements impulsively and later realize that we will not be able to do it.
  • Similarly, Peter was quick to jump into the water with Jesus to walk with Jesus. But in the water he lost the focus of Jesus and started to see the water and waves around him. We too should not look at the circumstances surrounding us and continue to look at Jesus so that we will be able to overcome the circumstance.

About this Post

This post is adapted from the Term Paper that I submitted to World Video Bible School as a part of my study of Matthew Course.

You can read about the Sin of Murmuring in Numbers from the earlier course of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy

You can read about The God I believe in here .

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