Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
- Matthew 16:16-18
While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him.
“You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said.
But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway.
When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” Again he denied it.
After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.”
He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.”
Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.
- Mark 14:66-72
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
- John 15:15-19
“ ‘The blessed Peter, persevering in the strength of the rock which he has received, has not abandoned the helm of the church which he undertook. Still today he more fully and effectually performs what has been entrusted to him and carries out every part of his duty and charge. And so if anything is rightly done and rightly decreed by us it is of his work and merits whose power lives and whose authority prevails in his see. [Peter] may be recognized and honoured in my humble person and his dignity is not lessened even in so unworthy an heir. When therefore we utter our exhortations in your ears, holy brethren, believe that he is speaking whose representative we are.’ (Sermon 3.3-4)”
- Tony Lane, A Concise History of Christian Thought
Leo the Great, Pope Leo I (?-461) was bishop of Rome from 440 until his death. He was a figure almost larger than life. He persuaded Attila the Hun to not attack Rome in 452. Three years later when the Vandals attacked Rome, he managed to negotiate a truce to lessen the destruction and killing.
With that and his theological writings, you would think him to be a formidable, larger-than-life character, but he glorifies the Apostle Peter and compares the popes of Rome to pale in comparison.
And my next comment might not rest well with my Catholic readers. The sentiment of Peter being greater than the popes that followed, I can agree with, but the practice of contacting the dead is forbidden in the Bible. In 1 Samuel 28, Samuel rebukes King Saul for bringing him up when Saul went to the witch at Endor. Let us let the Saints have a day off. We can have a long conversation when we get there.
The author takes this further in that many of the popes during the Middle Ages were more infamous than they were famous and the sentiment might be more appropriate for them. Leo I was being very humble in his statement.
But some of the language for the Apostle Peter was almost over the top. Peter was a man just like any man since then. He made mistakes. Peter said a lot when you look at the four Gospels, but that probably stemmed from him being an extrovert. A friend of mine said that an extrovert speaks before his/her mind is in gear while and introvert will practice what he says until those around him are uncomfortable with the silence. Peter blurted out what was on his heart.
As for the “rock” of the church, God says too many times in the Scriptures to rest our faith in God alone, the solid rock, the firm foundation. Anyone that is human is fallible, and Peter denied Jesus. He showed his fallibility. Jesus had to reinstate Peter, just as a disciple, to show Peter that his sin of denial was forgiven. Many church scholars think that Jesus said that Peter would be called the “rock” because the true “rock” was the statement Peter blurted out. Even Jesus said that Peter could not have come up with the idea unless the Spirit put the idea in his head. The “rock” that is the foundation of the church is not Peter as much as it is that Peter stated “the rock.” Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Son of the living God. That is the firm foundation of the church.
Praise Peter for his boldness. Praise Peter for his courage and leadership. But Peter was a sinner, saved by Grace, and called to service by Jesus Himself. That in itself is worthy of praise.
But we are to glorify God and rest solely on our trust in the Savior, Jesus, the Messiah, our Redeemer, our adopted brother, and by nothing we have done, only by Grace through faith and that as a gift from God.
If you like these Tuesday morning essays about philosophy and other “heavy topics,” but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Tuesday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.
Leave a Reply