By Bonnie Chester, Associate
And The Oscar For Best Supporting Role Goes To…
If you think about this title as you read the gospels and journey with Jesus during the last three years of His life, this award will have to go to Peter. I always think of him as Jesus’s “side kick.” The website bible.knowing-jesus.com counts 67 appearances of Peter in the gospels. John, the apostle, is called the beloved disciple, but good, faithful Peter always had a thought-provoking statement or question ready for our Lord. “Lord how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him?” and in Luke, after fishing all night with no catch, Peter questions Him again. “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.” Where is there a stronger faith and trust than in Peter?
Peter displayed so many emotions that you and I go through every day, both positive and negative:
- Trust: One definition of trust is reliance on the integrity, strength or ability of a person or thing. Peter trusted in Jesus when, after fishing all night with no catch, he willingly went fishing again! Don’t you often feel that way when repeating the same prayer of petition, over and over? Peter was most likely with Jesus when he cleansed the leper and healed the centurion’s servant. So, he had great trust when Jesus entered the house where his mother-in-law was lying in bed with a fever. Trust always that your prayer will be answered. Maybe not with what you had hoped for, but trust that it is God’s will.
- Faith: Peter’s faith was so strong when he got out of the boat to walk on the water, but doubt crept in, and we all know he began to sink. Haven’t you ever started a task with a strong faith in yourself, and then doubted your capabilities—whether it had a good or bad ending? Later, Jesus questions Peter, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answers with unwavering faith, “You are the Christ.” Way to go Peter!
- Love/loyalty: At the transfiguration, as recorded in Matthew, Mark and Luke, Peter was the one who wanted to make the Lord a tent. He was probably trying to make the event last forever. Do you love the Lord so much that you don’t want the worship service to end or the retreat to be over? In Mark’s gospel, Peter’s love and loyalty are evident when he says, “Lord we have given up everything and followed you.” And again, at the last supper, Peter’s love of the Lord was so great that he says, “You will never wash my feet.” I think he just didn’t realize that the love he felt for Jesus was mutual. I am guilty of that often. How about you?
Even though Peter was faithful, loyal, trustworthy and loved the Lord, “supporting role” might not always describe his actions. He doubted, and he was often quick to say what he thought. After Jesus tells Peter that He would be killed in Jerusalem, Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.”
Jesus was quick to let Peter know what He thought: “Get behind me Satan. You are an obstacle to me.” We have all at some time wanted to let the Lord know things aren’t going so well and we want to know what He is going to do about it. Have you ever prayed out loud with your thoughts? If not, write them down in a journal. The Lord can handle it.
We all have heard and read about Peter’s denial of the Lord. Aren’t we all so sure of ourselves that we will never disobey the laws of the Lord? When we do, we must remember His forgiveness. Go to the last chapter of the gospel of John. After the Resurrection, Jesus gives Peter the opportunity to declare his love for Him—not once, but three times—in this very tender encounter. John 21:15-17
When I think of a supporting role, I think of someone with Peter’s good and bad qualities, the peaks and valleys of his life, the highs and the lows, and someone I think I might like to pattern my life after. And then the thought comes to my mind, “Lord, there is hope for me yet. Strengthen not only my faith in You but also my trust and love to be more like Peter.” I am not likely to get an award, but I will do my best in a supporting role! How about you?
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”He then said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” [Jesus] said to him, “Feed my sheep.