ImageI have been in meetings where the leader asks first for comments. Many times these first comments set the tone for the meeting and often they are amended as the meeting moves along.   At other times the first comments are completely discarded as the discussion moves to a richer analysis of the situation.  Nevertheless, no matter what the outcome is, one has to admire the people who dare to speak first versus those waiting to see what everyone has to contribute before they make their positions known.

Among the Twelve Disciples, Peter is always the first to speak.  He brings his exuberance, his loyalty to Jesus and breaks the silence at the beginning of every conversation.  It is interesting that the Lord Jesus Christ has chosen Peter to be a part of the inner core group of three, together with James and John.  In the structure of the group formations we see that Jesus spoke to multitudes of 5,000 and 3,000 persons. He had also chosen 70 disciples and 12 disciples and then he had this small group of three – Peter, John, and James, the two sons of Zebedee.

One of the events involving Peter is known in the Scripture as Peter’s Confession of Christ.  When asked who the people think that Jesus is, the disciples volunteered information.  This information was journalistic hearsay – some say that you are the resurrected John the Baptist, some say you are one of the great prophets, some say that you are Elijah.  When Jesus turns to them and asks who they think that He is, only Peter volunteers.  You are the Messiah, the Son of God, he answers.  Jesus tells him that he is indeed blessed because it was the Holy Spirit that has made this discovery known to Peter.  Jesus continues to speak to them and tells them that He is traveling to Jerusalem to be crucified.  At this time Peter takes Jesus aside and starts to rebuke him.  The instance is rare – no other disciple had the temerity to do this to Jesus. Perhaps the compliment got to Peter’s head! Jesus tells Peter that by his position he has become the mouthpiece of the Devil. Jesus uses the strongest words that he has ever used with a human being – Get thee behind me Satan!

In spite of this ambivalence in thought, Jesus takes Peter with him to what is known as the Transfiguration Mountain experience. Here Jesus talks with Elijah and Moses about his coming trial and death. Peter is caught up in the glory of the event.  After all, for the Israelites, seeing Moses and Elijah was an encounter with history and the formation of the Jewish nation.  Peter’s reaction is to make this encounter permanent.  He is satisfied to stay in the glory land.  In fact, he is so satisfied that he proposes three tents – one for Moses, one for Elijah, and one for Jesus.  He did not mind that he was on the outside.  Jesus brings them down from the mountain and tells them to tell no one about this event.  It must have been very difficult for Peter to keep his mouth quiet when he enjoyed speaking so much.

As they are in Jerusalem and the enemies’ noose is getting tighter, Jesus wants the disciples to be prepared.  In the garden, Peter assures Jesus that they have two swords.  He is ready to defend Jesus with the sword.  Did Peter misunderstand all the things that Jesus has taught them thus far? My conclusion was that Peter needed time to think through the things that Jesus taught him, yet in his impetuosity, in his desire to be first to speak, many times He did not hear completely what Jesus told him.

Yet, after all the things that Peter has done in the Holy Week, including the denial of Jesus, on the Resurrection Morning Jesus sends a message: “Go tell the disciples and Peter”.  Peter is the only one that is mentioned by name.  Jesus has chosen him for a purpose and his qualities were used with great power when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and all who were gathered in the Upper Room.  He became the spokesperson for the whole Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan

George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...