Ron continues his “I Was There” series by retelling the tale of Simon Peter’s post resurrection encounter of Jesus. This series of posts recount the thoughts and actions of various individuals before and after the momentous happenings at Calvary. Read “Mary of Bethany” the first post in the series here.
Ron Hughes is the president of FBH International and has decades of experience in Christian mass communications. Recently Ron has overseen the launching of HopeStreamRadio, a Christian internet radio ministry. One of Ron’s passions is writing and he shares this passion with others on his program, “Author Interview.“
Simon Peter, The Fisherman
The fisherman worked with his partners in silence. As they began drawing in the net, he sensed that it was empty—again. All night long the men had done what they knew best, without success. The fruitless labour left space in Peter’s mind for recurring images to surface. How strange, he thought, that it all started with an argument with the Master over something as simple as foot washing. When Jesus approached Peter with a basin and towel, the disciple refused his Master.
Jesus said, “If I do not wash your feet, you have no share with me.”
The words stung, so trying to redeem the situation, Peter asked Jesus to bathe him entirely. Jesus’ retort made it clear that he had missed the point.
Simon Peter’s Promise
After supper, in the quietness of the olive grove, Jesus’ melancholy demeanour troubled Peter. He spoke of His death and the disciples’ infidelity. Feeling a sword swinging at his hip, Peter attempted to encourage the Master. “Regardless of what these others do, I will never fall away.”
Again, the Master had hard words for Peter. “Truly,” said Jesus, “before the rooster greets the dawn, you will deny me three times.” Embarrassed, Peter declared his loyalty—to death, if need be. Not to be outdone, the other disciples did the same.
In the privacy afforded by Gethsemane, Jesus asked His friends to watch and pray, then withdrew to be alone with His Father. Yet the men soon succumbed to the weariness of the day and the heaviness of the Passover meal. Jesus attempted to rouse them, but it took the sounds of armed men approaching to bring them to full consciousness.
Peter’s Swings His Sword
Though a strong, rough man, the burly fisherman had no experience with combat. Even so, he quietly drew the sword from its scabbard as the men identified Jesus as the object of their interest. Then, with characteristic bravado Peter took a swing at the nearest man’s head. Rather than accomplishing his purpose, he managed nothing more than to slice off his intended victim’s ear. This was embarrassing enough, but Jesus calmly picked up the ear and healed the man—then had more words for Peter: “That’s enough! Put your sword away.”
The soldiers took Jesus and the disciples disbursed in fear. John’s voice had called out of the darkness and Peter responded. Together, they followed at a safe distance to determine the Master’s fate. As they approached the High Priest’s house, John grew bold. He had a contact in the aristocratic household who would get them into the courtyard.
John insisted on finding a place near the door into the hall where something of a trial unfolded. Peter, shaken by the events of the evening, remained at the periphery warming himself, with others, by a firepot.Peter’s Denial
Then came the charges—three of them—that associated Peter with Jesus. Peter’s responses had escalated from a muttered denial, to a firm declaration, to oaths and curses that He didn’t even know Jesus. These last words had barely escaped his lips when a rooster crowed. That sound still rang in Peter’s ears, and still brought tears to his eyes.
He had been with the other disciples when, on two occasions, the resurrected Master had visited them. He had rejoiced with them to hear His voice again and watch Him eat the piece of broiled fish that demonstrated his physical presence. Yet Peter knew what the others did not know: He had denied the Master—three times.
With a heavy heart, the fisherman forced his mind to return to the matter at hand. He tugged on the net. It moved too easily through the water. Empty. A streak of grey appeared in the east announcing the end of this night’s fishing.
Forgiveness For Peter
As the disciples prepared to stow the net for the trip back to shore, a voice pierced the gloom. “Do you have any fish?” Someone shouted back, “No.”
The barely discernable figure on the beach called back “Cast your net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” They did, and as soon as they began to pull the net toward the boat, their experienced hands told them the net was full. John spoke in a low excited voice. “It is the Master!”
Of course! Immediately, Peter threw off his cloak and leapt into the sea, leaving the others to drag the net full of fish to shore. Jesus had breakfast already prepared, but invited them to add some of their fish to those already on the fire. When they had finished eating, Peter raised his eyes to find Jesus looking directly at him. After a moment the Master spoke. “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
Peter’s voice was low. “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
Then, twice more, Jesus asked the same question. Twice more, Peter responded, Twice more, the Master charged him with caring for His sheep.
Thus Peter began to learn that nothing could ever separate him from the love of Christ. The Master would never deny His own, even though they might deny Him. Such is the nature of Calvary love. The memories of his failures would fade; the fisherman would focus on the future.
Follow the “I Was There” Series
- Love Poured Out – Mary of Bethany
- Loved To Death – John the Apostle
- The Man In The Moonlight – Judas Iscariot
- When Fear Cast Out Love – Pontius Pilate
- How To Treat Your Enemies – Caiaphas the High Priest
- When Love Cast Out Fear – The Repentant Thief
- He Had Seen It All – The Roman Centurion
- One Last Time – Nicodemus
- Cold And Empty – Mary Madgalene
- You Know That I Love You – Simon Peter
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Images Courtesy of:
Miraculous Catch of Fish – Raphael
Jesus Is Arrested – Guissepe Cesari
The Miraculous Catch Of Fish – Dirk Bouts