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Lesson 1: The Person of Peter *

Introduction: When you think about Peter the disciple, what comes to mind? I think of a leader - or at least someone who gets mentioned more than most of the other disciples. The pattern that emerges from the stories about Peter is that he is the one who says, "Let's do this," or "I can do this," but then ends up coming up short. Maybe you know a lot about what this feels like. At some point in Peter's life, after most of the stories we know about have take place, Peter is referred to as a "pillar" in the early church. Galatians 2:9. What an encouragement! Peter wrote two of the books of the New Testament, and that is our study this quarter. Let's start our study by diving into the Bible and learning more about the man!

  1. Peter and the Nets

    1. Read Luke 5:1-3. Try to imagine what this scene looks like. Fishermen are working washing their nets, while people who want to hear Jesus teach are crowding around Him. What does Jesus do?

      1. What does this tell you about whether Jesus is a practical, common sense, man? (I think this is a brilliant and practical idea.)

      2. Where is Peter when Jesus is in his boat teaching? (He is in the boat listening. He is not washing the nets.)

        1. What does this tell you about Peter? That he is lazy? That he selfishly leaves the work to others? (Read Luke 10:39-42. Peter is doing the "better" thing. I suspect that it might have been a little work to keep the boat in position. In addition, he seems to own the boat, so perhaps he can tell others to wash the nets.)

    2. Read Luke 5:4-5. If you are a professional fisherman, would you be inclined to let a preacher tell you how to run your business? (Whether church administrators are competent in business is a serious issue. If you look at the retirement funds recommended by my church for its employees, many of those funds are much more costly than similar funds. Why is that? No doubt Peter thought, "What does a preacher know about fishing?" Plus, Peter was thinking that they would have to re-wash the nets.)

    3. Read Luke 5:6-7. No one is sick. No one is dying. No one is obviously facing a financial crisis. Why would Jesus perform this miracle? Is it payback for using Peter's boat?

    4. Read Luke 5:8-9. What impact does this miracle have on the relationship between Jesus and Peter? (Peter realizes that Jesus is something very special.)

      1. Think about this. What view of Jesus would cause a man to say, Go away from me because I am a sinner? (This sounds like a declaration that Jesus is the Messiah. If not, it at least means Jesus is a very holy person.)

    5. Read Luke 5:10. What do you conclude from Jesus responding, "Don't be afraid?" (This is the phrase we read about when an angel or God appear to a human. See, e.g. Genesis 15:1. Peter must have concluded that Jesus is the Messiah.)

    6. Read Luke 5:11. What can we now see was Jesus' goal in performing this miracle? (To select Peter (and James and John)as His disciples.)

      1. Has Jesus performed a miracle in your life to guide your service to Him?

      2. What does it say about Jesus' relationship with you that He performed a miracle to convince Peter to work for Him?

  2. Peter and the Question

    1. Read Matthew 16:13. Why do you think Jesus asked this question of His disciples?

    2. Read Matthew 16:14. How would you feel about these answers if you were Jesus?

    3. Read Matthew 16:15-16. How long has Peter held this opinion? (This probably goes back to the fishing miracle.)

    4. Read Matthew 16:17-19. There is a lot of controversy over what, exactly, Jesus means. If you were Peter, would you consider this a positive response to your answer? (Of course. Whether Jesus is saying that He is going to build His Church on the belief that He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God (which is what I think), or whether He is blessing Peter with special authority, to Peter's ears this must sound good.)

    5. Read Matthew 16:20. Why would Jesus say this? If He is concerned enough to ask "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" ( Matthew 16:13), then why would He not want His disciples to promote that message?

    6. Read Matthew 16:21. Do you think this has anything to do with keeping the identity of Jesus a secret? (The timing of these events is undoubtedly important. If the disciples started telling people that Jesus was the Messiah, it might cause problems prematurely.)

    7. Read Matthew 16:22. Why do you think that Peter took Jesus aside to share this message? (He did not want to embarrass Jesus in front of the disciples.)

    8. Read Matthew 16:23. Put yourself in Peter's place. You just (correctly) identified Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God. How could God's Son be killed?

      1. Worse, how can you be called "Satan" for saying that God's Son will not be killed? You are continuing to say positive, encouraging things to Jesus! How is that worthy of a terrible rebuke?

    9. Read Matthew 16:24-25, and re-read the last part of Matthew 16:23. What is wrong with Peter's attitude? What is the "Satan" problem? (Jesus' response gives us an insight into Peter's thinking. Peter thought that the Son of God had come to take power over His nation. Peter was given the keys allowing him to bind earth and heaven. How could that end in torture and death? It would "never happen." Matthew 16:22.)

      1. Why couldn't Jesus just say, "Wrong Peter," why did He have to call Peter "Satan?" Isn't that a bit over the top? Clearly, Peter is not Satan! (Re-read Matthew 16:17. Who inspired Peter here? It was "my Father in heaven." Jesus speaks accurately when he says, "Satan," because it was Satan who inspired Peter to say "this shall never happen.")

        1. How is it that one minute the words of God come out of Peter's mouth, and the next minute the words of Satan come out?

    10. What does this story teach us about Peter?

      1. What does this teach us about us? (We can get the most important theological points right. At the same time we can completely miss how this will work out because of our selfish motives. We need to be alert to guard against this.)

  3. Peter and the Water

    1. Read Matthew 14:23-28. If Peter really doubts that this "ghost" is Jesus, why would he suggest this test? A ghost could say, "Sure, come on out."

      1. Read Luke 4:3. How is Peter's challenge different from Satan's challenge for Jesus to perform a miracle? Is Peter once again speaking for Satan? (Peter has a sincere question. Peter's requested miracle did not benefit Jesus.)

    2. Read Matthew 14:29-31. How could Peter, when he was in the boat, miss the fact that the wind was blowing? (When you feel secure, the wind seems less dangerous.)

      1. Do you think Peter could swim? He is a fisherman! What good thing do these verses reveal about Peter? (He turned to Jesus for help, he did not try swimming. His faith wavered, but his reliance on Jesus did not.)

  4. Peter and Denial

    1. Jesus is arrested, and has begun His journey to execution. Peter has the courage to follow Jesus. Read Luke 22:54-57. How do you explain Peter saying that he does not know Jesus?

    2. Re-read Matthew 16:21-22. What is happening in Peter's life? (Things are going all wrong. It is popularly believed that Peter was the one who drew his sword to defend Jesus at the time of His arrest. Luke 22:49-50. Peter did not lack courage when things were going right, he lacked courage when things were not going according to his expectations.)

      1. Is that also true for you?

    3. Friend, one of the great things about Jesus being our great High Priest (Hebrews 7-9) is that He experienced life here. The great thing about studying Peter's books of the Bible, is that we see ourselves in Peter. Will you determine to faithfully study Peter's inspired words this quarter?

  5. Next week: An Inheritance Incorruptible.
* Copr. 2017, 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.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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