• August 6, 2020

Apostle Peter ‘definitely different’ - Odessa American: Religion

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Apostle Peter ‘definitely different’

Denying Jesus three times was step toward maturity, ministers say

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Posted: Saturday, June 20, 2020 3:30 am

The Apostle Peter’s failings repeatedly got him into trouble, but his strengths were so pronounced that he rebounded to become one of the most important figures in the story of Christianity.

Known as “The Big Fisherman” in a bestselling book and a 1959 movie, the man who is also called Simon Peter became the most prominent of Jesus Christ’s disciples through a series of assertions and actions, ministers say.

In Matthew 16:18 after Peter powerfully states that Jesus is the Son of God, Jesus says, ‘And I tell you that you are Peter. On this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’”

Clergymen Hector Aguilar, Terry Wright and Scott Sheppard say Peter often spoke or acted before he thought. “He was sold out to the Lord, by all means, but as far as ministering, he was very impulsive,” said the Rev. Aguilar, pastor of Jesus Connection Church.

“He always wanted to be the first one to speak if somebody asked a question or if Jesus asked a question. He was definitely different from the other 11 disciples.”

Aguilar said Peter’s worst failure, denying three times that he knew Jesus after Jesus was arrested and about to be crucified, was somewhat mitigated by his having the courage to stay close to Jesus when the Savior was being brutally interrogated.

“He was the closest one,” the pastor said. “He made eye contact with Jesus when the others had scattered.

“He chopped off a man’s ear when Jesus was being arrested and he was on the verge of an all-out battle out of genuine love and wanting to protect his rabbi when Jesus told him to stop. We all have good intentions, but even good intentions can get us into trouble.”

Aguilar said the most impressive part of Peter’s story is in the Book of Acts, where he has matured and reformed his personality.

Citing Acts 2:14-41, where Peter preaches a sermon that inspires the baptisms of 3,000 people, Aguilar said, “God used these things to make him the man he became and he went on to write First and Second Peter.

“He’s a different guy than he was back in the Gospels.”

Ancient historians say Peter was crucified upside down in 64 A.D. after saying he was unworthy to die in the same manner that Jesus had.

The Rev. Wright, the retired pastor of Westover Baptist Church, said Peter “was what we would consider a working class individual in the beginning.

“What he is most known for, of course, is his denials of Jesus right before the crucifixion,” Wright said. “But he was restored by Jesus and given the opportunity to become a strong disciple, which he did, following Jesus’ commandment to feed the sheep and tend the flock.

“Ultimately, he became a strong preacher of the truth of the Gospel on the Day of Pentecost, willing to preach even to the point of being jailed and persecuted.”

Wright said the Gospel of Mark was the first Gospel written with most of it being told to Mark, or John Mark, by Peter.

Asked why Peter had failed to acknowledge his discipleship to Jesus, Wright said, “I think it was more fear than anything else.

“He’d made statements like, ‘I’ll go wherever you want me to go and do whatever you want me to do.’ Then when he was standing with the soldiers, confronted in the moment of decision, if he had said, ‘Yes, I’m a believer,’ he might have died along with Jesus.

“So he said, ‘No, I’m not willing to pay the price.’ Sometimes when we make a commitment, we don’t understand the cost. Then later he became completely fearless.”

Quoting Mark 16:7, Wright said that after Jesus was resurrected and before he restored Peter by asking him three times, ‘Do you love me?’ the angel in the tomb indicated that Peter was still very important by telling Mary Magdalene, ‘Go and tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”

One Hope Church of Christ Minister Scott Sheppard of Midland said there is another side to Peter’s other big failure of faith in Matthew 14:22-33 where Jesus is walking through a storm on the Sea of Galilee and Peter walks out to meet him but sinks because he is afraid.

“At least he steps out of the boat and tries,” Sheppard said. “I love his willingness to try. Jesus looked into Peter’s heart and knew he was going to be a tremendous servant.

“I imagine that being a fisherman, he had a lot of traits that carried right over into being a disciple and an apostle.”

Sheppard said one of the most significant scriptures is John 21:1-14, where Jesus appears on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, cooking fish early in the morning. “That was the big turning place,” the minister said.

“Peter recognized not only that Jesus forgave him but also that he depended on him. The character trait that sticks out to me is his spirit of boldness. Jesus knew his level of faith would be strong enough for him to speak the truth.

“When he denied Jesus three times, where were most of the other apostles? They were hiding out. I love studying Peter.

“Jesus is saying, ‘I don’t care what your background is. I can use you.’”

Odessa, TX

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