( A study suggestion: Some of you have taught me so many helpful things. So, when I “stumble” upon something on my own which I think might be helpful, I’ll share it. In that case, have you visited www.biblos.com? I’ve not seen anything like this and will surely use it in my studying. ~dk)
While we’re on the subject of “rocks,” I heard there was a move underfoot in France. Some French folks were thinking about a way to recognize and honor their great, if abrasive, World War II hero, General Charles De Gaulle. In recognition of his accomplishments and his contributions to international diplomacy, it is my understanding they’re planning to change the name of the Rock of Gibraltar to De Gaulle Stone! (Just kiddin’ folks. Honest).
“Petros” means “rock” in Greek. “Petrified” is a word we can easily understand. “Petrify” and “Peter” are derived from the same Greek word for rock. Caiphas (another name by which Simon Peter was known) comes from an Aramaic word which means roughly the same thing. I’m not certain how or when the name was affixed to our fisherman friend, Simon. At first, I’d have said he should have changed his name or his conduct. They were incongruent. It was only AFTER Christ dealt with the man that he was changed from tumbleweed to a man rock solid in his faith, unwavering in his commitment to His Lord.
Accompanying the next couple of posts are several verses/sentences I’ve extracted from Eugene Peterson’s Message. His translation of the Bible is another good reason why I feel nobody should honestly be able to say: “I don’t understand the Bible.” (with that said, I doubt anyone will ever replace the majestic eloquence in the King James Version of the Psalms.).
Early in the course of events, Jesus visited Peter’s parents’ house. “Directly on leaving the meeting place, they came to Simon and Andrew’s house, accompanied by James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed, burning up with fever. They told Jesus. He went to her, took her hand, and raised her up. No sooner had the fever left than she was up fixing dinner for them.” Matthew 8:29-31
Can you imagine? Her son had just brought a friend to visit. She had no way of knowing who the “Visitor” was, but she went right to work. Those “boys” simply had to have a bite to eat! Doesn’t that sound just like a mother?!
This happened very soon after Peter got “drafted” as the first of the original twelve. In the brief time which had passed since he’d been recruited, Peter had been right there for a close up and personal hearing of the “Sermon on the Mount.”’ With his own eyes, he’d seen people get healed and given hope and forgiveness. During his assignment with his new Friend, and for the next three years, Peter saw what Jesus was doing. Heard what He said. Peter had NEVER seen or heard anything like it. Nor had anyone else. Nor shall we.
I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself, but that’s all right since we’ve agreed this is an informal, friendly, study and a “work in progress.” The healing of Peter’s Mother-in-Law was one of the first of many acts of miraculous compassion Peter observed Jesus performing. It becomes apparent to me very early on that Peter’s close association with Jesus for those three years of His earthly ministry WAS AN IMPORTANT KEY TO PETER’S COMEBACK. Perhaps it was THE KEY!
Artists may not have done us a favor when they seem to glorify the “saints.” With haloes on their heads and beautiful scenic backgrounds, we have a tendency to make them larger in death than they were in life. If we see Peter as he really was and understand how he became a “hero of faith,” we can relate to that. As we examine Peter’s life, we’ll se him in some “messes,” usually of his own making. He was a man of flesh and bone, like we are and he was far from perfect. But through all of that, please keep this in mind: He knew Jesus. For those months during which they travelled the countryside together, he heard Jesus speak. He may have heard the crowd say in awe and admiration: “Never man spoke like this Man.” (John 7:45-46) Peter ate with Jesus. Watched Him work. He was even considered one of the three Disciples often referred to as Jesus’ “Inner Circle.”
Once you’ve encountered Someone so extraordinary, so real, you couldn’t possibly forget it. The influence Christ exerted on Simon Peter was as indelible as it was incredible! He’d NEVER be able to forget it or discount it’s importance. These were memories he could never erase. Three memorable years! For three years he traveled the countryside with Jesus. During that time, it was like those “wonderful words of life” were engraved in granite on the walls of his memory. My take on that intimate association is that it filled a hollow hole in Peter’s life which nothing and no one else could ever fill. For the remainder of his days, the words and deeds of That Man were the standard, which inspired the best and highest aspirations in Peter’s heart.
My Dad was grumpy, grim, prejudiced and unhappy, even into old age. Perhaps his alcoholism helped deaden some of the enormous hurt and disappointment he’d experienced early in his life. He must have masked a lot of pain behind his gruff exterior. Even after I became a Christian, I can remember his railing at all the “hypocrites” in the Church. Ministers, especially “Preacher Kirk” (of the little local Pentecostal church my Grandpa and Great Uncle helped found), didn’t escape his sarcasm. If Dad loved me, he never said so. When I decided I should study for the ministry, the only reaction I got was his disappointment that I hadn’t decided become a pilot. I sort of got the impression if I’d died in a dogfight over a Viet Nam jungle he’d have actually been proud of me.
In one of the very few times when we actually talked and he seemed to be listening to what I was saying, I had just come to his bedside to let him know Mom’s operation was over. The prognosis was very, very grim. We talked some about her and her faith and courage, and again the subject of hypocrites arose. “Dad,” I asked, “do you reckon there’d be any reason for ‘counterfeits’ to exist, if there was no genuine currency anywhere in the world?”
By his silence, he seemed to consent and agreed such a thing seemed unreasonable. I told him I felt that “hypocrites” aren’t anything if they aren’t “counterfeit Christians.’ And, Dad,” I said, “You lived for years with ‘the genuine article.’” Mom was close to Christ and even as she drew her last peaceful breath I sensed she’d just joined the Saviour whom she loved and served. To the last, she had prayed and hoped Dad would overlook counterfeit distractions and come to genuine knowledge of the Christ. The influence of Mom’s faith lingers like a sweet fragrance on my life, even to this very moment. I, for one, could not help but be influenced by her example and the love she lived. When I surrendered unwisely to the pressures which I allowed to drive me from ministry, and when I sought very foolishly and vainly to fill the spiritual emptiness, there was always that influence. I KNEW wherever I was, or whatever I was doing, she was praying for me. You cannot discount the influence of a Godly life.
Whatever happened in his life, and no matter what he did after that early meeting, we must remember Peter was a close, almost constant companion of Christ for about three years. That, I’m confident, was one of the main reasons he couldn’t go away far or stay away for very long. Can you imagine what an impact such an experience would have on you? Even now, if you just pause and quietly allow your mind to work, you can probably remember beautiful hymns and songs you heard as a child. You can remember Bible verses which you memorized, and they come back sometimes when you need them. Perhaps you can also recall moments when Christ seemed as close to you as our own heartbeat. And my confident guess is that right now you know somewhere someone who loves you has been praying for you for a long time. Those beautiful memories and influences make us what we are. We may go away, but given time I believe we will come back. Jesus’ influence is that powerful. His is a love that will not let us go.
I’ve asked my self this question: In light of such closeness, how could anyone ever stray and stay away from the presence and influence of Christ? Certainly not comfortably or permanently, as I discovered personally in my own ‘eclipse of faith.”
But not everyone chooses to follow Christ or stay close to Him. Once, when the going got really “tough” and the demands of discipleship were stated unmistakably clearly, some who started a journey began to “desert the ‘team.’). They went AWOL. Jesus saw what was happening. Here’s how John reports the incident in the sixth chapter of his narrative:
66 “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. 67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
It was Peter who answered that question one of his own: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the Words of Eternal Life.”
Peter’s question has never been more relevant or important. It has never deserved a more thoughtful, personal response than at this very moment.
God’s servant, your friend, brother, and fellow student, ~donkimrey
(To Be continued)
(A parting note: Please forgive me if you think I exercise “undue familiarity” with any of the great personalities or truths of Scripture. In all seriousness, sometimes I feel I’m almost a ‘mystic’ in my reverential awe of Jesus, His Word, and the ‘end product’ when He completed His work of transformation on anyone. However, if you and I get the full impact, the life-changing power of “The Word,” we probably need to view it in an accurate context. Those whom Jesus called, transformed, and used, were mere mortals. Just like you, and I, and everyone we know.
In this context, I cannot help remembering a story my art teacher told me once. She was the widow of a Methodist minister and helped me realize an early ambition to paint. One time she told me of an interesting little “side job” she’d picked up painting Biblical scenes on the satin lining inside of some caskets. You read right. Once a relative of the deceased came to commission Mrs. Green to paint something inside the lid of his loved one’s casket. When she asked for some suggestion, he responded: “Oh, I don’t know . . . How ‘bout that pitcher of Jesus ‘n His buddies havin’ a little snack?
Honest. It happened, and I laughed so hard I hurt. I couldn’t help it. That’s funny! And I felt like Jesus would have gotten a ‘kick’ out of it, too. Whatever else He might have been, He definitely was NOT a pompous, grim, stiff, stuffed shirt!)