Peter on that Good Friday

Peter was a man who have many inconsistencies. If you remember, it was him who first realized that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. Because of the close friendship with Jesus, Peter knew in his heart that this man Jesus is someone bigger. Yet, it was Peter also who was scolded by Jesus and was told, “Get behind me Satan!”

After confessing that Jesus is Lord and the Messiah, Peter also wanted to prevent Jesus from doing the will of the Father by not undergoing pain and suffering. Peter wanted Jesus to escape from pain and suffering. This was how he was named Satan at that time because Satan will always tempt us to take a short-cut, to prevent us to go through pain and suffering. Yet, at the end, Satan will only bring us to destruction and death.

Peter and Satan: A Reflection[1]

With this particular attitude of Peter, let me ask these questions to you.

Who wants a life without suffering, without sacrifices and difficulties? That would be nice, right?

We dream of a life that knows only comfort, that is easy, and that we’ll always feel good. Today, we are actually being offered with different ways to make our life comfortable, fast, easy and smooth.

There is actually nothing wrong of dreaming a life filled with comfort and without sacrifices and difficulties, to always feel blessed and good. This is a desire from us to feel secured. Nevertheless, the danger lies within the heart that denies sacrifice and suffering as part of our life, and as part of our Christian way of living.

I remember a story being told to me when I was in college. There was a boy who went out into their garden and found a cocoon. It was so timely that he saw how the cocoon moved. The butterfly was about to come out from its cocoon. However, the butterfly was struggling. The boy felt pity for the butterfly. And so, the boy immediately, ran back to his room, got a pair of scissors. He wanted to help the butterfly and so, with scissors in his hand, he cut the cocoon carefully in order not to wound the butterfly. He was so successful that the butterfly was in her perfect shape and out of her cocoon.

But then, something was wrong with the butterfly. She did not fly. Why? She couldn’t fly because her wings were too weak. When the boy cut the cocoon, the butterfly lost the opportunity to make her wings strong. She was supposed to go through in that struggle, in that difficulty of coming out from her cocoon. Because of the easy way out, her wings were not made strong to enjoy the wind as she was supposed to fly.

You know, Jesus scolded Peter when he denied that Jesus should suffer and die. Even though, Peter confessed that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, the Christ sent by the Father, but then, Peter did not understand the commitment of being sent by the Father.

Peter only knew of the victorious image of the Christ who will bring salvation and glory. Peter held on to his belief that in Jesus, there will be only blessings, power, and praises. This means that to follow Christ is not just about feeling good, feeling blessed, with abundance and material prosperity.

This was the mistake of Peter. He couldn’t accept that Jesus will undergo suffering, persecution and death. He couldn’t accept of a vulnerable and weak God. This caused Peter to be scolded by Jesus and even called Satan because Peter only wanted an easy one, an easy life. Peter only considered what he wanted, not what God desired.

This is also the consequence when we encounter Jesus. Before Peter was being rebuked by Jesus, the Lord actually asked the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?

This question of Jesus was a question of commitment. And Peter responded this question with conviction. Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Like Peter, if we confess that Jesus is the Christ, our Lord and Savior, then, this confession implies commitment and risk.

After all, when we commit ourselves to somebody we love, risks and sacrifices are implied. We are reminded neither to fear nor deny the reality of making a sacrifice, of experiencing pain and difficulty in our life. Life is found when we go through the process of struggling. Never cut the cocoon or else there will be no life. When we experience pain, struggles, and difficulties never lose those opportunities because those are ways where we too shall find life, meaning and purpose.

When we are called to make a sacrifice for others, never fear, because life is brought forth there. Take the example of parents and to mothers especially, giving birth is painful and excruciating, but the beauty of life is found when the baby finally comes out.

Hence, do something concrete this Holy Week that would best express your faith and knowledge of Jesus. Hopefully, having this consciousness, this will further help us in knowing Jesus all the more because it is in knowing him that we also grow in our faith, in our commitment and relationship with God and with one another.

Peter and His Denials

When Jesus was arrested, Peter was confronted by the people and recognized him as a disciple of the Lord. However, Peter denied Jesus three times which can be found in all four Gospels (Mt. 26:33-35; Mk 14:29-31; Lk 22:33-34; Jn 18:15-27).

He denied the Lord because he was afraid of going through the same pain and suffering of Jesus. But then, Jesus never condemned Peter. Jesus only looked at Peter in the eyes.

In the same way, Jesus also looks at us lovingly. Individually, he looks at our eyes, calling us by our name. The gaze of Jesus is an assurance to us that we are not judged and we are not condemned.

Even though we might consider ourselves as unworthy and useless, yet, Jesus would never point his finger on us condemning us for being sinful and unfaithful. Rather, Jesus looks at us with affection and love, wanting us to be with him.

With that look of Jesus, Peter realized what he had done. He denied the Lord because he was afraid and did not have the courage to stand and be true to his faith. Peter was filled with shame and guilt. But then, Peter also realized that he was sorry.

With that look of Jesus, he found not condemnation nor judgment from the Lord. Peter only saw forgiveness from Jesus. This moved Peter to come out from his fear and accept God’s forgiveness. That is why, Peter was given the gift of Jesus after the resurrection to lead the Church because Peter acknowledge his failure and sins, but also he accepted God’s forgiveness. With this, it transformed Peter into a better person.

[1] Matthew 16:13-19;21-23 (He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” n From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he* must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”)


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