Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same. (Mark 14:31)
Peter was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. He was originally named Simon. Jesus changed his name from Simon to Peter. Simon means “listen” and Peter “rock.” Jesus transformed Simon to the rock of faith. He was a Galilean fisherman and was the brother of Andrew. Peter with Andrew came from the village of Bethsaida, which means in Hebrew, “House of fishing.” They lived in a fishing village on the North East coast of the Sea of Galilee. Peter was the first disciple called by Jesus along with his brother Andrew. The Book of Matthew describes:
Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers. They were Simon (his other name was Peter) and Andrew, his brother. They were putting a net into the sea for they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Follow Me. I will make you fish for men!” At once they left their nets and followed Him. (Matthew 4:18-22)
Soon Jesus called His twelve disciples. Peter was unique. He is a man of zeal and action, and enthusiastically followed Jesus more than the rest of eleven disciples. Thus, he did a lot for Jesus, and also made a lot of mistakes. This was the pattern of Peter.
He made the greatest confession in faith to Jesus Christ when Jesus asked “who do you think am I?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16) Jesus was really pleased with his answer and 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. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:17-19) What a blessing! Jesus told He would build His church on the rock of the faith that was professed by Peter. This moment did not last long.
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. (Matthew 16:21) Jesus waited long time, and finally explained the truth that He must die for our sins and resurrect again on the third day to become the first fruit for all believers. Immediately, Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” (Matthew 16:22) Without full understanding of the truth about Jesus Christ, he humanly tried to protect Jesus. He also declared whatever happens, he would protect Jesus with all of his power and might. If he had to die while protecting Jesus, he would die.
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) Suddenly, Peter, the one professed in faith that Jesus was the Son of God, became an obstacle and stumbling block to Jesus. It was very brief moment: from the best and most faithful disciple, whose faith was solid enough to build Jesus’ ministry of salvation, to a voice of Satan, tempting Jesus. (It can happen to anyone. It is a sobering fact that all of us should remember all the time.)
Then Jesus lovingly explained the real meaning of being His disciple, the principle of the Heaven and His Kingdom.
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:24)
Jesus told His disciple to follow the footsteps of Him, who carried all sins and transgressions of the world on His shoulder, bled and died as the eternal sacrifice for all of our sins (past, present, and even future sins). He would complete the salvation plan for all on the cross. As a true follower of the Jesus Christ, we need to deny (i.e., dying before the cross daily and continually) and carry our own cross and follow Him. Our human nature is all common – wanting to save our own earthly life because we can see and touch. This is very hard to deny as long as we live on earth. However, Jesus sternly gave a alarming truth to Peter and the rest of the disciples (including us): For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
Then Jesus continued: What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? (Matthew 16:26)
What we see is temporary, and what we cannot see is eternal. What really good will it be to gain the whole world? This is like capturing a morning fog, which soon disappears as a morning sun rises. However, if we lose our soul (i.e., our inner person), which cannot be replaceable, is it really profitable?
After the above event, Peter’s rise and fall continued. He repeated at the mount of transfiguration, and on the lake of Galilee, where he walked on the lake. Finally, Peter insisted emphatically declared “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” This was the prelude of the biggest fall that Peter had ever taken. Of course, Jesus gave a clear warning message. Peter did not get it. Only after he denied Jesus Christ three times, Peter had finally realized who he was – one who was pitiful and totally incapable of doing what he enthusiastically declared in his life. Even so, Jesus loved Peter. Jesus appeared to Peter, after His resurrection, and healed Peter’s deepest wound in his heart. Peter was truly comforted by Jesus. After His departure, he received the Holy Spirit, and became His true disciple who could lead thousands to Jesus. As Jesus told him, he denied himself, took up his cross, and followed Jesus.
Give thanks to God, who will love us, His children to the end, as Jesus loved His disciples to the end. This is our assurance and confidence in Him. Praise the Lord!
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
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