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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 8: From Folly to Faith: The Apostle Peter *
Introduction: Can you think of a Christian who is not a very good
witness for Jesus? I'm not referring to someone who only talks about
being a Christian. I mean someone who is a serious Christian, but who
does not have a very good sense of how to get along. The world calls
the ability to relate to others "emotional intelligence," the Bible
calls it "wisdom." Our study this week is about the apostle Peter
who had a great deal of growing to do in the emotional intelligence
department. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and see what we
can learn about Peter and improving our own emotional intelligence!
- Faithful to Death: The Promise
- Last week we studied how Simon Peter and John first came
to be disciples of Jesus. We now move to the very last
days they were with Jesus on earth. Read Mark 14:26-29.
Why does Jesus say what He does and why does Peter say
what he does? (Jesus is quoting the Bible ( Zechariah 13:7)
and making the application to Himself and His disciples.
Peter disputes whether this prophecy (and Jesus'
statement) applies to him. He believes he is better, more
faithful than the others.)
- Read Mark 14:30. What does Jesus do to reinforce the truth
of what He has said? (Jesus now adds His own prophecy, and
He attaches a narrow time frame and specific details -
that day, before the rooster crows twice, Peter will deny
Jesus three times.)
- Read Mark 14:31. What character trait of Peter do we see
here? (Pride. Determination.)
- What emotion do we see?
- Read Proverbs 12:15-16. This is one of the texts on
Bible-based emotional intelligence. What rules do you
find here, and how has Peter violated them? (Jesus
has twice given Peter advice about the future, and
Peter rejects it. Peter shows his annoyance at once.)
- How might the future have been different if
Peter had said, "Lord, how will this happen, and
what can I do to avoid it?"
- Read Proverbs 13:10. How are pride and the emotional
intelligence of taking advice in conflict with each
other? How was this true in Peter's case? (Because
Peter's pride and arrogance did not allow him to
think that he could deny Jesus, he could not learn
from Jesus' advice.)
- Let's continue on with this story from another gospel.
Read Luke 22:35-36. This immediately follows Jesus'
discussion with Peter about his upcoming disloyalty. Why
is a sword now more important than a coat?
- Faithful to Death: The Fight
- Read John 18:1-3. Jesus' words to Peter about his
disloyalty are just a few hours old. Tell me what is going
through Peter's mind when he sees Judas and the soldiers?
(This confirms Jesus' prediction that He will be betrayed
by one of His disciples. Peter is no doubt thinking "This
is the test!")
- Read John 18:10. Who was right on the issue of Peter's
loyalty: Jesus or Peter? (It looks like Peter proves what
he said - he was willing to die for Jesus. He stood right
there, he did not deny Jesus, he pulled his sword so that
he could fight for his Lord and struck a blow in the
direction of the representative of the high priest!)
- Faithful to Death: The Confusion
- Read John 18:11. What is going through Peter's mind now?
(He must be confused. He had just proven Jesus wrong about
his faithfulness, and Jesus is now rebuking him! He
remembered Jesus' advice about having a sword and not only
does he have it, he is using it!)
- What is Jesus talking about when He refers to "the
cup the Father has given Me?" (Jesus had been talking
about a cup ( Mark 14:20-24) at the same time He was
talking about being betrayed and Peter's disloyalty.
Imagine all these thoughts racing around in Peter's
- Read Mark 8:31-33. What caused Peter to get into trouble
here? (The same lack of emotional intelligence that he
demonstrated later. His pride and arrogance cause him to
reject Jesus' statements about the future.)
- Has Peter forgotten this event in his confusion about
what he should do to be loyal to Jesus? (This is an
important lesson for us. Peter resisted the idea that
Jesus came to die. He wanted Jesus to rule. Because
he refused to give up his own ideas, he thought being
loyal meant fighting for Jesus to rule.)
- Faithful to Death: The Failure
- Let's continue with our story in John. Read John 18:12-16.
How is Peter able to get into the courtyard of the High
Priest? (The "other" disciple (John) speaks with the girl
on duty and gets Peter in.)
- Read John 18:17. Is this how Peter expected the temptation
to deny Jesus would come to him? (It would come with
soldiers when he had a sword in his hand. It would not
come with an unarmed "girl on duty.")
- Could Peter say that this was unfair? When he pulled
his sword to fight, wasn't it "game over" for the
issue of whether he would deny Jesus?
- Read Proverbs 19:20-21. How would these rules of
emotional intelligence have helped Peter? (If the
first time that Jesus rebuked Peter about Peter's
vision for the future ( Mark 8:31-33), Peter had
accepted Jesus' advice, he would have understood
Jesus' purpose and how he might play a role in that
plan. If Peter had accepted Jesus' advice about his
upcoming denial, he could have sought wisdom about
how he could avoid being disloyal. This text in
Proverbs teaches us that whatever our plans, it is
God's purpose that will prevail. We can avoid a lot
of trouble and confusion by paying attention to God.)
- Faithful to Death: The Redemption
- Read John 21:14-15. What difference, if any do you see in
Peter's attitude? (Jesus primes him to compare himself to
the other disciples by saying he loves more than the other
disciples. Compare Mark 14:29. Peter does not say he is
better than the others when it comes to loving Jesus.)
- Read John 21:16. What is suggested by the fact that Jesus
asks Peter this question a second time? (It suggests that
Jesus is uncertain of the truth of Peter's first answer.)
- What would you be thinking if you were Peter? (I
would immediately have guilty thoughts of my last
unfaithfulness. I would know Jesus was thinking about
my failure, and it would tear my heart.)
- Read John 21:17. The text confirms that Peter feels hurt
and guilty. What argument does Peter make to convince
Jesus that he will now be faithful? (He doesn't really try
to make an argument, he simply says "God, you know all
things." Thus, you know whether I'm telling you the truth
or not. You know whether I will be faithful or not. I love
you and I intend to be faithful.)
- Read John 21:18-19. What would the Peter of earlier days
have said to this? (For a clue, re-read Mark 8:31-33.
Jesus told Peter that he would be killed at the hands of
others. The expression "you will stretch out your hands"
suggests crucifixion. "Early church tradition supports
this manner of death for Peter." Wycliffe Bible
Commentary. The Peter of yesterday would have rebuked
Jesus - no one was going to die - they were all going to
- Friend, what about you? Do you follow the Bible's rules of
emotional intelligence so that you put away pride and take
advice? Do you accept God's word rather than your own
goals and preferences? Or, will it take a spiritual
failure to teach you the lessons Peter learned?
- Next week: A Pillar of Mission: The Apostle Peter.
* Copr. 2008, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.