“Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke Him……..But He turned and said to Peter: ‘Get behind me Satan!” Matthew 16:22, 23
“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit said to them……..let it be known to you….that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth….,by Him this man stands before you……” Acts 4:8-10
Ah Peter, the rock, the foundation on which Jesus Christ built His church. Ah Peter, he had pretty humble beginnings. It seemed to start out promising. Jesus calls Peter and he leaves his nets to follow Jesus. Jesus asks who the disciples think that He is; and Peter answers that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God! Go Peter! Yet in the very next few verses, Peter takes Jesus aside and rebukes him for saying that He will be killed. Jesus calls Peter, Satan. Peter, wanting Jesus to prove who He is as the disciples are in a boat and Jesus is approaching walking on water. Peter requests that Jesus make it possible for him to walk on water too. Peter gets out of the boat and actually starts to walk on water; Yeah! But then the waves and wind scare him and Peter starts to sink. Jesus has to rescue him rebuking him for his fear and lack of faith. Peter promises that he will die to protect Jesus. Then in the garden, Peter flees and worse yet, denies Jesus, not once, not twice, but three times. Peter is one of the first disciples to enter the tomb and find it empty. Yet Peter does not understand nor believe at that point, that Jesus has risen. Even after seeing Jesus; Peter, later goes fishing.
Fast forward a few days perhaps weeks and now Peter is standing in front of the Jewish Leaders, the rulers and elders of Israel. These are the same leaders who tried Jesus and had Him crucified by Pilot. Peter has just healed a man. What’s the problem with that you ask? Peter healed the man in the name of Jesus Christ. The leaders are incensed. They thought they had gotten rid of Jesus once and for all and are not about to see some upstart, non learned man, carry on Jesus’ work. Given Peter’s previous track record, we might expect him to be evasive. We might think we’re going to hear passive, kowtowing, or timid speech from Peter. Hardly! Peter tells it just like it is mincing no words about Jesus being the Son of God and the rulers’ responsibility in the despicable act of His crucifixion.
Before we get to Who made the difference, I would like to take a brief moment to make a point. There can be a problem as we think about Peter. Some of us might look at his life with Jesus and want to pass some judgement. “I” would have kept walking on the water. “I” would have never pulled Jesus aside to rebuke him. “I” would have never denied Jesus. Also, paradoxically, some of us say: “I” could have never stood before those powerful men and called them killers. “I” could have never healed a lame man in the name of Jesus. “I” could never be the person to be the leader of the church. Either in judgement of the pre-Pentecost Peter, or tremendous “I could never” awe of Peter, post-Pentecost; we may find ourselves on shaky ground.
Peter had been with Jesus, almost from the very beginning. Peter believed Jesus. Peter loved Jesus. Yet what allowed Peter to go from one being rebuked to the one righteously rebuking? What allowed Peter to go from the one denying Jesus to proclaiming Jesus as the Christ? You guessed it, it says so right in scripture; Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit.
So here’s the thing for you and I today. At least for me, I have no confidence in myself, that I would have acted any differently than Peter did in his interactions with Jesus during His earthly ministry. Second, I do wonder about my boldness if I had been facing the Sanhedrin, as Peter was. But it is not about yours or my confidence or boldness. It does not start with us; it starts with Jesus. It starts with believing that Jesus is the One True, Only Begotten Son of God. It comes with accepting that we don’t possess, on our own, the depth of knowledge nor strength of faith to adequately, completely follow Jesus. It comes from accepting the Gift that Jesus Christ promised to ask Our Heavenly Father to send; the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit. It comes from relying on the Holy Spirit to reveal to us the truth of Jesus Christ and bring us into a level of deeper understanding. It comes from allowing the Holy Spirit to work through us, to speak through us, the Real Truth, the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Being filled with the Holy Spirit, testifying to the truth of Jesus Christ and the Love the Father has for each of us, we can feed the starving world, the One True Food; forever.
Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we are so thankful that You have seen fit to provide us with an ever present Counselor, Teacher and Healer; the Holy Spirit. Forgive us when we disregard His perfect counsel and try to rely on our own reasoning and strength. Through the Holy Spirit, make us bold to live a life of praise, devotion and worship to You, Everlasting Father. That through our Spirit filled lives; others will come to seek you out. We pray this in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen