Jesus & Peter: An Authentic Relationship

The relationship between Jesus and Peter was prominently described throughout the Gospels to an extent that many may not recognize.  The amount of text dedicated to explaining that relationship was vast, detailed, and descriptive.  A detailed examination of the relationship between Jesus and Peter revealed extensive interactions including moments of cooperation, confusion, and correction.

The Gospels detail over twenty major interactions between the two.  Their relationship began when Andrew introduced Simon Peter to Jesus (Jon 1:41-42).  Soon thereafter Jesus called Peter to be a “fisher of men” and eventually an Apostle (Matt 4:18-22; Mar 1:16-20, 3:13-19; Luk 5:10-11, 6:12-16).  Jesus invested personally in Peter as specific lessons were tailored for his benefit: the miraculous catch of fish and the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law contributed to Peter’s early awakening to Jesus’s power (Luke 5:4-9, Matt 8:4-15).  Peter followed Jesus closely after his calling into the Apostleship, and learned personal aspects of public ministry (Matt 10:1-4) and faith (Matt 14:22-33).  Peter experienced moments of spectacular glory as he boldly declared his confidence in Jesus as the Messiah as well as the true “mountain top” moment when Jesus revealed his glory in the transfiguration (Matt 16:13-20, 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36).  Peter left readers of his life with some infamous moments as he attempted to convince Jesus that his death and crucifixion should not take place (Matt 16:21-28, Mar 8:31-9:1, Luke 9:22-27), brazenly agreed to unnecessarily pay the temple tax (Matt 17:24-27), and offered confusing requests during the foot washing lesson (John 13:1-20).  Most notorious are Peter’s bold declaration that he would follow Jesus to death (Matt 26:30-35) yet, hours later, denied him three times (Matt 26:58-75).  Those poignant hours led to fresh discoveries for Peter about himself and the love of Christ.  He would rush to the garden to seek the truth of Jesus’s empty tomb, and Jesus made no secret of his desire to inform Peter of his resurrection (Luke 22:32, 24:34).  In Galilee, Jesus provided another miraculous catch, reminiscent of the one previously experienced early in their relationship, and reconciliation was completed in a tender conversation (John 21:1-23).  The next fifty days were transformative for Peter, culminating with the ascension of Christ and the genesis of Peter’s leadership of the church at Jerusalem (Acts 1:7-26).  Lenski observed that, “The Acts show him [Peter] as the rock, the dependable leader of the Twelve.”[1]  The three year earthly relationship between Jesus and Peter produced radical transformation.  Peter was molded by the master into a spiritual minister and mentor who would continue to model how to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 3:18).

Their relationship was built on time spent with one another in various situations and circumstances to help encourage and promote Peter’s growth.  Jesus demonstrated his care and concern by helping Peter with serious family issues (Matt 8:4-15) as well as intimate times during the Transfiguration (Matt 17:1-8).  Peter asked a great amount of questions, all of which were addressed by Jesus directly, honestly, patiently, and practically.  Some of the most evident examples of such discourse took place during the Temple tax payment (Matt 17:24), Peter’s rejection of Jesus’s prediction of his death (Matt 16:21-28), and the foot washing conversation (John 13:1-20).  In Peter’s obvious remorse for his denials, Jesus purposefully sought him to encourage and reconcile him (John 21:4-23).

            Peter must have felt incredibly comfortable in his relationship with Jesus.  Most of his statements may have been foolish or short-sighted, but they were mostly good natured.  Peter lived authentically, and his transparency is rarely duplicated.  I hope to pattern my life after Peter’s genuine openness.   From the outward appearance, Peter’s potential was not apparent.  Recognizing that I am largely limited in my ability to assess people’s potential, I must be less superficial and more prayerful.  Peter may have been “rough around the edges,” but he was sincere.  I often wondered why Peter would be chosen to be the primary leader over other possible apostles.  The conclusion I have reached is that he genuinely desired to hear the words of life and that, when he did hear the Words of Christ, he responded with humble sincerity.

            Can you see yourself in Peter?  From this relationship analysis we can received insight for personal growth.  Do you have similar patterns like Peter in your expressions or reactions?  Do you have full transparency with Christ?  Do you seek mentorship from others, even if it risks exposing your vulnerability?  Do you let your boldness overshadow the long-term perspectives necessary in life?

Desire to be authentic like Peter.  Authentic believers confidently declare, like the apostle Paul, “Follow me, as I follow Christ.”[2]  Similarly, we must learn to accept people the way that Jesus accepted Peter.  Stevenson observed that, “He [Christ] poured himself into the lives of the people around Him and changed their lives forever.”[3]  Relational authenticity not only enhances camaraderie but also fosters the development of other believers.  Authentic, transparent following of Christ must become the norm and standard.  I want to be a follower of Christ first and foremost. By God’s grace we can experience radical transformation of our lives to authentically bring glory to God through Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).

 

 

 

[1] R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John and St. Jude (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1966), 16.

[2] Fred Smith, Learning to Lead: Bringing Out the Best in People (Carol Stream, IL: CTi., 1986), 29.

[3] Phil Stevenson, 5 Things Anyone Can Do to Lead Effectively (Indianapolis, IN: WPH, 2007), 94.

Selected Bibliography

Lenski, R. C. H.  The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John and St. Jude. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House. 1966.

Smith, Fred. Learning to Lead: Bringing out the Best in People. Carol Stream, IL: CTi, 1986.

Stevenson, Phil. 5 Things Anyone Can Do to Lead Effectively. Indianapolis, IN: WPH, 2007.

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