Profiles of the Bible: Peter (Part 2)
Last week we introduced Simon (also known as Peter). Today we are examining Peter’s development as a disciple of Christ. In one of the most dramatic moments of Peter’s life with Jesus took place in a place called Caesarea, Philippi. The moment happened after one of Jesus’ challenges from the Pharisees. Jesus withdrew with his disciples from the Jewish of Judea and went to the Gentile city of Caesarea, Philippi. It was a city built by the Romans and it was a place that was filled with idols. Additionally emperor worship was becoming a phenomenon within the Empire. Therefore it was not uncommon for the people to declare that Caesar is Lord.
Following this encounter, Jesus wanted to see what his disciples were thinking. He asked them a question, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” The disciples looked at each other and passed on what was the word on the street. Some said that Jesus was John the Baptist, Elijah or Jeremiah. Others said that perhaps Jesus is like the prophets of the Old Testament. Jesus then turns to his disciples and asks them who they think he is.
Without skipping a beat, Peter replied, “You are the Christ. The Son of the living God.” Jesus looks at Peter, a smile creeping across Jesus’ face, and Jesus blesses him and declares, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
Wow. God has revealed something to Peter. The one currently sitting with them was not an ordinary human being. He is the Christ. He is the one whom the people of Israel had waited for centuries. Here is one who was to deliver God’s people from all oppression and will bring God’s kingdom here on earth. But the next part is even more amazing. Jesus tells Simon, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Jesus changes Simon’s name! His name is no longer Simon, but Peter, which means, “rock”. Jesus was going to use Peter and Peter’s confession to establish Christ’s church! What a privilege.
But in the next instance, Peter’s displayed a serious misunderstanding of Jesus and Jesus’ purpose. Jesus charges the disciples not to tell anyone of his identity and reveals to them that he is going to suffer at the hands of the chief priests and scribes. He will be killed but on the third day he will rise again. At this news, Peter pulled Jesus aside and began to rebuke his master. Jesus replied, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
What did Jesus mean? Peter did not want Jesus to suffer or experience pain out of love and loyalty. Why this sharp rebuke? In this instance Peter was speaking in a way that was tempting Jesus not to go through with the plan of salvation. Peter was in a way giving voice to Satan’s means of tempting Jesus to avoid the suffering that was necessary for our salvation. Peter did not clearly understand Jesus’ mission. For Peter, Jesus supposed to usher God’s kingdom here on earth. Jesus was supposed to defeat and destroy all of God’s enemies, not be killed by them.
Peter didn’t understand at the time. But he eventually would. Jesus was showing Peter and his disciples that the path to glory was not without danger. Our salvation was not without a price. While Peter was thinking in simple political terms, Jesus was thinking in eternal terms. Christ’s suffering was the way that God would reconcile Himself to us. His punishment was for our sin-our guilt upon him and His righteousness upon us. Therefore, if anyone would trust in what Jesus has done for us, they can live for eternity in God’s presence.