The Low – the night of the Last Supper
36 Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “You can’t follow me now to the place where I’m going. However, you will follow me later.” 37 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I’ll give my life for you.” 38 Jesus replied, “Will you give your life for me? I can guarantee this truth: No rooster will crow until you say three times that you don’t know me.
John 18:15-18, 25-27
Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. The other disciple was well-known to the chief priest. So that disciple went with Jesus into the chief priest’s courtyard. 16 Peter, however, was standing outside the gate. The other disciple talked to the woman who was the gatekeeper and brought Peter into the courtyard. 17 The gatekeeper asked Peter, “Aren’t you one of this man’s disciples too?” Peter answered, “No, I’m not!” 18 The servants and the guards were standing around a fire they had built and were warming themselves because it was cold. Peter was standing there, too, and warming himself with the others. … 25 Simon Peter continued to stand and warm himself by the fire. Some men asked him, “Aren’t you, too, one of his disciples?” Peter denied it by saying, “No, I’m not!” 26 One of the chief priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked him, “Didn’t I see you with Jesus in the garden?” 27 Peter again denied it, and just then a rooster crowed.
1) How can Peter go from “I’ll give my life for you” to “No I’m not!” in one night?
|artist's image, ca. 1000 AD.|
John 21: 1-19
Later, by the Sea of Tiberias, Jesus showed himself again to the disciples. This is what happened. 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two other disciples of Jesus were together. 3 Simon Peter said to the others, “I’m going fishing.” They told him, “We’re going with you.” They went out in a boat but didn’t catch a thing that night.
4 As the sun was rising, Jesus stood on the shore. The disciples didn’t realize that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus asked them, “Friends, haven’t you caught any fish?” They answered him, “No, we haven’t.” 6 He told them, “Throw the net out on the right side of the boat, and you’ll catch some.” So they threw the net out and were unable to pull it in because so many fish were in it. 7 The disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put back on the clothes that he had taken off and jumped into the sea. 8 The other disciples came with the boat and dragged the net full of fish. They weren’t far from the shore, only about 100 yards.
9 When they went ashore, they saw a fire with a fish lying on the coals, and they saw a loaf of bread. 10 Jesus told them, “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught.” 11 Simon Peter got into the boat and pulled the net ashore. Though the net was filled with 153 large fish, it was not torn. 12 Jesus told them, “Come, have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared to ask him who he was. They knew he was the Lord. 13 Jesus took the bread, gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was the third time that Jesus showed himself to the disciples after he had come back to life.
15 After they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than the other disciples do?” Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus told him, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Jesus asked him again, a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter answered him “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus told him, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 Jesus asked him a third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt sad because Jesus had asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” So Peter said to him, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus told him, “Feed my sheep. 18 I can guarantee this truth: When you were young, you would get ready to go where you wanted. But when you’re old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will get you ready to take you where you don’t want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to show by what kind of death Peter would bring glory to God. After saying this, Jesus told Peter, “Follow me!”2) What connections do you see between this story and the denial story?
NT Wright (a great Anglican teacher and theologian) points out that the first time Jesus said love/agape (unconditional), and Peter responds with love/philia (friendly). Peter used to respond HUGELY to Jesus, but now he’s understated. The second time, Jesus says agape again, and again Peter says friends again.
3) Why does Jesus shift from ‘feed my lambs’ to ‘care for my sheep’? Why doesn’t Jesus bring up Peter’s denial?
4) Wright notes that the third time, Jesus asks “Simon, are you my friend?” Doesn’t Peter sound upset? How would you feel?
Wright comments: “I think Jesus is saying, in effect, ‘Very well, Peter: if that’s where you are, that’s where we’ll start. If you can say you’re my friend, we will build on that. Now: feed my sheep.’ And then, of course, he goes on to warn Peter of what is to come; this sheep-feeding business will cost him not less than everything, as it had cost the master Shepherd himself.” It’s very comforting to me that Jesus takes me where I am.
Consider also when Peter addressed the crowd after Pentecost. One thing to note is that he didn’t run out after Easter Sunday, nor even after Jesus’ ascension, but waited, as Christ told him, to receive the Holy Spirit. But then he spoke to a multitude.
36 “All the people of Israel should know beyond a doubt that God made Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” 37 When the people heard this, they were deeply upset. They asked Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38 Peter answered them, “All of you must turn to God and change the way you think and act, and each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins will be forgiven. Then you will receive the Holy Spirit as a gift. 39 This promise belongs to you and to your children and to everyone who is far away. It belongs to everyone who worships the Lord our God.”
Acts 4:10-12 Later Peter and John are on trial for healing a lame man. Peter says:
“10 You and all the people of Israel must understand that this man stands in your presence with a healthy body because of the power of Jesus Christ from Nazareth. You crucified Jesus Christ, but God has brought him back to life. 11 He is the stone that the builders rejected, the stone that has become the cornerstone. 12 No one else can save us. Indeed, we can be saved only by the power of the one named Jesus and not by any other person.”
Acts 4:17-19 The Pharisees think everyone knows about the miracle and are afraid to punish them. They say:
“17 So let’s threaten them. Let’s tell them that they must never speak to anyone about the one named Jesus. Then the news about the miracle that they have performed will not spread any further among the people.” 18 They called Peter and John and ordered them never to teach about Jesus or even mention his name. 19 Peter and John answered them, “Decide for yourselves whether God wants people to listen to you rather than to him. 20 We cannot stop talking about what we’ve seen and heard.”5) Is Peter following Jesus’ instructions?
6) Jot down one thing to remember from this study.