After the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, Peter was in need of forgiveness. This happened on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, which was the place where Peter had first heard the call of Jesus. St John’s gospel recounts the painful and yet empowering encounter between the two of them. Our following two songs tell us this story and Peter’s reflection on the extraordinary change in his life – from despair to hope, from failure to a new commission as healer, evangelist and pastor.
Before the group of disciples walked over to the Mount of Olives, Jesus predicted Peter’s threefold denial, but also told him that his failure would not be the end of the story. When the Chief Priests’ men came to arrest Jesus, Peter showed his fierce loyalty by cutting off the ear of a slave of the High Priest. When Jesus rebuked him and healed the man, Peter fled with the other disciples. Our next song is a moving account of what followed.
After three years of ministry in Galilee, Jesus came to Jerusalem for the important Festival of the Passover, when the Jews celebrated their deliverance from slavery in Egypt. During the Last Supper, Jesus washed the disciples’ feet to demonstrate humility. Because Peter thought so highly of Jesus, he impulsively refused to let this happen. Let’s see how that conversation went…
What happened next is quite a shock! It is clear that Peter’s understanding of who the Messiah was, fell short of the truth that was revealed by Jesus. Jesus told the disciples that he was going to suffer and die at the hands of the Jewish leaders. When Peter protested: ‘This mustn’t happen to you’, he received an immediate rebuke from Jesus. It seems that Peter still had a lot to learn!
Despite this, Jesus had sufficient confidence in his three closest disciples, Peter, James and John, to entrust them with a remarkable vision of his glory. Our next song ‘Jesus Shines!’ tells the story of the Transfiguration.
A story in St Matthew’s gospel gives us an insight into Peter’s character. While the disciples were on a lake in a boat, Jesus walked towards them on the water. The other disciples were paralysed by fear, but Peter had the courage to get out of the boat and walk towards Jesus. However, seeing the strength of the wind, his courage failed him and he had to be rescued by Jesus.
Some time later Jesus wanted to see how much his apostles understood. He took them to Caesarea Philippi, a city far to the north and away from the crowds, where he put a vital question to them. Our next song tells us the question, Peter’s reply, and the response of Jesus.
From the outset Peter was the leading apostle and their spokesman. He is always mentioned first by the gospel writers. Jesus appointed the Twelve Apostles to be with him, to proclaim the message, and to heal the sick. In these early days, Peter would have been mightily impressed by Jesus – the authority of his teaching, his compassion for those in need, his disregard for the stuffy, conventional attitudes of many religious leaders, and above all his extraordinary miracles of healing.
All of this had a profound effect on Peter. Our next song imagines him musing on his experience.
Peter! He was one of the first followers of Jesus Christ. He was a leader in the early Church and eventually a martyr. He was a man who reached the heights and plumbed the depths. He became the Rock on which Christ built his Church. This is the story of St Peter.
We know nothing at all about Peter’s childhood and growing up. We first meet him as an adult in the Gospels, when he was already married. He was a fisherman living on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. At that time, before he met Jesus, Peter was called Simon.
The bible tells us that it was Peter’s brother Andrew, who brought him to Jesus. Then there was probably a period of time when Peter got to know Jesus, before he made his decision to leave fishing and to give his life to following Him.