You can't miss him! With his rugged, muscular physique and skin bronzed to perfection by the sun - he makes a formidable figure on the waterfront as he prepares each day to shove off and head for the open sea.
Cool, calm and collected he is not! He curses like a sailor, struts like a peacock and has a streak of braggioso a mile wide - and woe to the man that crosses his path IF he returns after a long hard day at sea with nothing but an empty fishing boat. Let me just say his temper is, ah..well, tempestuous at best.
I'm talking Simon here. You know, the beloved fisherman from Galilee that Jesus picked to become His first fisher of men? We know him better by his nickname "Peter", which Jesus affectionately bestowed upon him, meaning..."a stone or a rock".
Without going into the details of the next three and a half years that Peter spent with Jesus...let's just assume that in that length of time Peter had time to clean up his language, stop telling tall tales, calm his temper and learn how to be humble, not arrogant.
* * *
FAST-FORWARD to the night that Jesus was arrested on Mount Olives.
Peter, bless his heart, goofed up more in that one night than many people do in a lifetime!
First, he fell asleep when Jesus had asked the disciples to pray with him. In fact Twice Jesus returned to find them sleeping, and finally just let them sleep and prayed alone.
Secondly, when Jesus was arrested, Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of the High Priests' servant. So much for his learning how to tame his temper in those three years.
Next, Peter, along with the others, cut and ran when Jesus was taken away. (Perhaps a cowardly act)
However, he showed up later at the High Priest's palace.
Peter had secretly slipped into the courtyard and was milling around with the servants, "incognito", in order to see and hear what was transpiring inside. Suddenly he was confronted by one of the maids, asking if he was one of Jesus' followers?
The unexpected question probably took him off guard, and I can imagine his heart pounding, his throat tightening, and his mind racing back to last night's fiasco - when he pulled out his sword and cut off the ear of the Chief Priests'servant; Peter must have been sweating it.. Big Time!
"I don't know the man" he lied.
Then after Peter had been asked two more times, he began to curse and swear to make sure they would believe him.
At this point in time Peter seemed to be more like shifting sand than a solid Rock.
Then he heard it...
The distinct "Cock-a-doodle-do" of a cock crowing in the distance. Flashblacks of the conversation he and Jesus had last night hit him like a bolt of lightning!
"You will deny me three times before the cock crows". Jesus had said.
"No, not I Lord, Never!" Peter had vowed vehemently, "I would die before I'd deny you!"
If the Flashbacks weren't bad enough, Jesus turned at that very moment and looked lovingly, but squarely at Peter, and as their eyes locked for just a second, the crowing sound faded like the morning mist.
That did it! Crushed and broken, "Peter went out and wept bitterly."
It would be several years before Peter proved himself to be what Jesus called him... a "Rock".
* * *
FAST FORWARD - to the eve of Peter's scheduled
Herod had already killed James, the brother of John, and now he had imprisoned Peter and was planning to execute him the next day at dawn.
On the eve of his execution, what was Peter doing? Was he nervously pacing back and forth in his cell? Was he wringing his hands in desperation? Was he sweating it out in fear and trepidation? Was he being comforted and consoled by the Round-The-Clock guards that were detailed to make sure he didn't escape?
No! None of the above! Peter was sound sleep, sleeping like a baby. We know this because the angel that had been sent to rescue him had to nudge him sharply in order to awaken him.
Amazing! Shackled between two guards, destined to die at dawn and Peter was sawing his "Z's". Even the guards were blinded by the brightness of the angel...but Peter was dead to the world! At last Peter was showing his true colors! He was at long last a ROCK, a real solid rock - trusting in God and thus sleeping in perfect peace!
("Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee. Isaiah 26: 3 KJV)
Read the exciting story of how the chains fell off, the prison gates opened wide and Peter walked free as a bird! A fascinating and miraculous rescue.
* * *
Once again it's the crack of dawn on the waterfront, and once again Peter casts off and heads out to the open sea; he is still bronzed by the sun, and he still retains his physical strength - but now he is blessed with an "Inner Strength" as well; and will become known throughout the world and for all future generations to come...as Saint Peter, the everlasting Rock.
Simon called Cephas/Peter (John 1:42)
Peter's Denial (Luke 22:53-62)
Peter's imprisonment: (Acts 12)
I would love to have been a ten year old girl in your Sunday School class as you taught this lesson! I can see you waving your arms, imitating Peter every which way, revealing his boistrous, uncouth persona, his slumped shoulders at his profound disappointment in himself, his strident walk as he tells people off, his shrugging his shoulders at being found a liar, his hands folded under his cheeks as he slept peacefully, and finally his straightened shoulders, his tall bearing, his stength in becoming the Rock. You did it all, dear Marilyn, in one fell swoop. Beautiful imagery and word carpentry!
A great retelling. I love Peter, he is the disciple I am most like. Desperately in love with Jesus, but sometimes foolish in his efforts to demonstrate it. I like the way you showed his growth over time. That is something for Christians to hold on to...we grow over time too.
God writes the best stories! Thank you for pulling together the Biblical references to Peter in this engrossing account of a beloved disciple we will someday get to meet in person! Won't that be THE Day! Good job!