Peter and good intentions

The Standard March 18, 2021

Those of us who ever have been prone to jumping into situations before thinking or speaking impulsively find a kindred spirit in the apostle Peter. One of the disciples closest to Jesus, he loved fiercely and believed passionately, but made some serious mistakes due to reacting impetuously. We read a lot about Peter in the coverage of the last days of Jesus’ earthly life at the end of the gospels.

Just before the Passover Festival, Jesus ate The Last Supper with his 12 disciples then “he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus replied, ‘You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ ‘No,’ said Peter, ‘you shall never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.’ ‘Then, Lord,’ Simon Peter replied, ‘not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!’” (John 13:4-9)

“My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.’ Simon Peter asked him, ‘Lord, where are you going?’ Jesus replied, ‘Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.’ Peter asked, ‘Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.’ Then Jesus answered, ‘Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!’” (John 13:33-38) Can you imagine how deflated Peter must have felt at those words?

Immediately before his arrest, Jesus took Peter, James and John with him to pray in the garden of Gethsemane. “Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’ Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?’ he asked Peter. ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’” (Matthew 26:38-41) Jesus returned to find these disciples sleeping a second then a third time.

When Judas arrived along with armed men sent from the chief priests and the elders, Peter drew his sword and cut off the right ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus healed the ear then was arrested and taken to the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. Three times he was asked about his connection with Jesus. Three times he denied being a disciple or even knowing Jesus. The rooster began to crow. Peter remembered the words Jesus had said, went outside and wept bitterly.

After the resurrection Peter was reinstated by Jesus and went on to spread the good news fearlessly. On the rock of gospel truth, Peter helped build the church. Like him, we have many good intentions which do not always result in helpful words or actions. Thankfully, God forgives even our most appalling mistakes. These final weeks before Easter, let us pray for a willing spirit and the strength to act for God’s good purposes.

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