The Person of Peter
Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 2 Lesson 1 Sabbath Afternoon
When you think of Peter what comes to mind? Do you find that Peter is a person who encourages you? What in Peter’s life do you find encouraging?
Did you notice Peter seems to be impulsive?
- He blurts out answers—some good “you are the Christ” some not so good, “Far be it from you to go and die”
- He jumps out of the boat and swims to shore
- He says things that make no sense, “lets build some tents for you and Moses and Elijah”
- He asks Jesus if he can walk on water with Him
- He denies knowing Jesus
- He runs to the tomb
- He pulls back from associating with uncircumcised
Peter had a heart that wanted to do good, but often allowed the impulse of the moment to lead to actions without first thinking it through, considering, and reasoning it out—and with a heart unconverted many of his actions were not helpful. He even occasionally struggled with this same issue after conversion—remember when Paul had to confront him?
What was the root impulse, with which Peter struggled, that caused him to come up short? Where is it most effectively exposed for us to see?
In the upper room, Jesus tells the disciples that they would all run away and what does Peter say? “Not me!” Was Peter lying? In other words, was Peter planning on running away, but telling Jesus he wouldn’t? Or did Peter mean what he said and was speaking his honest intentions?
So, Peter was not lying, he honestly intended to not run… so then, could Jesus trust him? What did Jesus tell him? Before the rooster crows you will deny me 3 times.
What is going on here?
Did Peter love Jesus? Yes…but he still loved himself more! This is the problem, when there was no pressure on self he declared his love and loyalty to Jesus. But when his own life was threatened, having not died to self, he denied Jesus to protect self. So Jesus said to him in the upper room:
Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. Luke 22:31,32 KJV
What is the lesson here?
Prior to that night, had Peter gone on missionary journeys for Christ? Had Peter been used to perform miracles? Had Peter professed Jesus as Lord and Savior? Yet, he was still unconverted—because what is conversion? It is not a vocal acknowledgement of Jesus; it is not a legal adjustment for those who have claimed the blood. Conversion is an actual change of heart, where we surrender our survival drive and our lives into Jesus’ hands, we die to self and are willing to give our lives for others. We love God and others more than the need to protect ourselves. And this is only possible because of what Jesus accomplished as a human 2000 years ago.
Peter represents beautifully the life of us all, the struggle of us all and the possibility for us all, to, despite coming up short, experience genuine change of heart and reconciliation with God.
Do you notice the contrast with Judas—what is the difference between Peter and Judas? Peter surrendered self and Judas did not. Why? Peter really did love Jesus and valued Jesus’ character and methods of truth and love. Judas found Jesus’ methods weak and detestable and didn’t want to be like Jesus. but wanted to use Jesus for his own agenda.
The last paragraph states
“Most important, Peter knew what it was to make mistakes, to be forgiven, and to move forward in faith and humility.”
What do you understand this to mean?
What was the forgiveness Peter so desperately needed? Was it a legal pardon in the courts of heaven? Or was Peter distraught because he had betrayed someone important to him, and Peter was afraid that Jesus’ might reject him, might hold his betrayal against him, might not want Peter on the team any more? So Peter needed to know that Jesus personally forgave him. It was not a legal forgiveness Peter needed, but a personal, relational forgiveness that Peter needed.
Why? Because one of the natural results of sin is internal fear, condemnation and shame—this is what sin does. And this causes us to falsely believe that others, if they knew of our sins, would not be able to like us, value us, cherish us, or want to be associated with us. That others would hold our wrongs against us—much more so when the wrong was a betrayal of trust. So, part of the healing and restoration to righteousness is to experience God’s forgiveness. And this forgiveness is freely extended from God to all sinners.
What happens if someone doesn’t get “forgiven”? What is the problem for a person who doesn’t experience forgiveness? What happens in the heart, mind and character of the sinner who remains in a state of unforgiveness?
Think about those who crucified Christ—did Jesus forgiven them? Yes, did they receive it? No, and what happened to them? Did they have more or less fear? Did they have more or less peace, more or less compassion, more or less love and joy?
Unremedied sin in the life destroys the character and incites fear and increased selfishness.
Forgiveness is not a legal issue, but a relational issue!
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Sabbath School Lesson 2017 Quarter 1 Lesson 1 Sabbath Afternoon
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