WELCOME to Peter – The Rock! We hope that you will enjoy the musical.
You will hear the story of a man who was the leading apostle of Jesus Christ, yet in a spectacular fall from grace, denied all knowledge of him not once, but three times.
But that wasn’t the end. He was forgiven by Jesus, and took his place as a leader in the Early Church.
The life of St Peter is an encouragement to us all. Failure need not be final. If we fall, God can restore us too, and use us in his service.
Narration: Part 1
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.
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.
Very early on Peter experienced the spiritual power of Jesus which touched him personally. His mother-in-law was ill with a fever. Let’s hear her tell the story…
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.
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.
It is clear from the bible story that Peter didn’t find it easy to forgive! Our next humorous song is about forgiveness and teaches us all a lesson for life!
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……
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 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.
When Jesus ascended to his Father in Heaven, the joy of the resurrection stayed with the disciples. We are told that they frequently visited the Temple and were full of praise for God. They may well have used the words of Psalm 100, which was sung by worshippers attending the Temple. We invite you to join in as we sing a setting of this psalm.
Narration: Part 2
The Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament gives a vivid account of the life of the Early Church after Jesus had ascended into heaven.
Peter quickly assumed a leadership role. He instigated the election of Matthias to replace Judas Iscariot as an apostle. He was present with the other disciples on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended in wind and fire. Our next song describes four stories, two from the Old Testament and two from the New, when the Spirit of God had a transformational effect.
When the disciples received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, they praised God so loudly that some people thought they were drunk. Peter addressed the crowd, pointing out that it was unlikely that they were drunk at nine o’clock in the morning! Instead this was a fulfilment of an Old Testament prophecy that God would pour out his Sprit on everyone. He went on to link the gift of the Holy Spirit with the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
The crowd accepted their responsibility for handing over Jesus to the Romans and Peter reassured them that they could be forgiven, baptised and receive the Holy Spirit for themselves. Three thousand people accepted this offer and joined the Church. Listen to the words of the next song and you will discover how important the Spirit of God is in the lives of Christians.
The day of Pentecost was followed by a time of great joy, when the believers shared their goods, met together for fellowship and prayer and witnessed miracles being performed by the apostles. Our next song describes one of these miracles and the opposition of the religious leaders.
The religious leaders forbade Peter and John to speak about Jesus, but they continued to do so despite being put into prison and receiving a flogging. Stephen, one of the newly appointed leaders in the Early Church, was stoned to death. This was followed by a more general persecution, which led to many believers leaving Jerusalem.
The Gospel was preached in Samaria and many responded. The Church in Jerusalem sent Peter and John to Samaria. They laid hands on the new believers who then received the Holy Spirit.
While staying in the coastal town of Joppa, Peter had a life-changing experience. He came to see that the Gentiles, whom Jews considered unclean, were welcomed by God when they turned to Christ. Let’s hear this story of Peter’s encounter with a Roman soldier, Cornelius.
The persecution of the Church continued with King Herod having James, the brother of John, executed. Peter was arrested and thrown into jail. In our next song Peter tells the disciples how he was miraculously rescued.
Having originally restricted their preaching to Jews, Church leaders gradually won more and more converts among people of other races. But some Jewish Christians taught these gentile believers that they needed to keep the whole of the Jewish law as well as following Christ. Even Peter, who had been mixing freely with these Gentile Christians, withdrew his fellowship from them. Saint Paul, who had seen many people of other races come to faith, roundly rebuked him for this.
A meeting of the Church was called in Jerusalem to resolve the issue and Peter was a key witness. He told them about the conversion of Cornelius and urged the acceptance of gentiles as they were. The decision was made only to expect a few basic tenets of the Jewish Law to be kept.
Our next song expresses the spirit of reconciliation between Jews and Gentiles which Peter promoted. Throughout the ages, Christ has broken down the barriers between people of different races and backgrounds.
Peter seemed to have a special concern for the Christians of Asia Minor, modern day Turkey. In a letter to them, he encouraged them to persevere in their faith, building their lives on the foundation stone of Jesus. These words are an invitation to us today.
It seems that the Christians in Asia Minor were experiencing persecution for their faith. The same is still happening in many countries across the world. It can be dangerous to worship Christ as Lord. Our next song suggests how we might respond when our faith is tested: ‘Your faith is precious, more precious than gold. When it is tested, rejoice and be bold’. What an encouragement and challenge.
Peter’s letter to the Christians of Asia Minor was almost certainly sent from Rome where the Apostle’s life ended. He probably died a martyr and there are strong historical reasons to believe that his tomb in St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, is authentic.
How do we sum up this man? Well, dull, he wasn’t! He was passionate, loyal, impulsive and human like us. We can take heart from Peter’s experience. Failure need not be final. God’s grace can triumph over human weakness. Peter denied Jesus three times, but after Pentecost his witness to the risen Christ was outstanding and he became the rock on which Christ built his Church. Today 2000 years later we can all be on the Kingdom Road.