Simon Says

By Royce Frederick

      Beginning in Acts 2, we see Simon Peter boldly proclaiming the gospel. As early as Matt. 16:16, he had confessed to Jesus: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” But the path to Acts 2 was not always easy. As he walked with Jesus, Peter often made mistakes in things he said to Jesus.

“...Lord; this shall not happen to you!”

      After Peter’s confession, Jesus warned His disciples that He would suffer, die, and rise again (Matt. 16:21). Jesus encourages the weak and warns the strong (Matt. 14:27; Jn. 16:33; 1 Cor. 10:12; Heb. 3:12-14).

      Peter could not believe Jesus would die. “Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!’” (Matt. 16:22). Peter confessed who Jesus is, but denied what Jesus said. Peter is not alone. Many confess Jesus as Lord, but deny some of His words. Jesus said, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?” (Lk. 6:46; see Matt. 7:21-23).

      In Gen. 3:4, Satan told Eve, “You will not surely die.” Satan often tempts us to take short-cuts around God’s will, bypassing any sacrifices which may come between us and the benefits we desire (Matt. 4:8-11). Jesus told Peter, “…Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Then He told His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt. 16:23-25).

      Jesus came to give His life as the sacrifice for our sins (Matt. 20:28; Jn. 1:29). After Jesus arose, Peter understood and wrote, “knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold...but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

“Lord...let us make here three tabernacles….”

      Jesus took Peter, James and John with Him onto a high mountain to pray. The disciples fell asleep, but later awoke to see Jesus glorified. Two great men from the past, Moses and Elijah, were talking with Him about His coming death (Matt. 17:1-8; Mk. 9:2-8; Lk. 9:28-36). Peter “...did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid” (Mk. 9:6). But He spoke anyway, “...not knowing what he said” (Lk. 9:33). How often we speak the wrong words when no words were called for at all.

      Peter suggested that they honor all three men: “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” (Matt. 17:4). But God rejected the idea. “While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!’ And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid. But Jesus came and touched them and said, ‘Arise, and do not be afraid.’ When they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.” (Matt. 17:5-8). Peter later wrote about this in 2 Peter 1:16-18.

      Peter surely had good intentions. But man’s religious ideas are not acceptable to God (Matt. 15:9, 13). We must worship and serve Him as He instructs us in the Bible, without changing anything (Jude 3; 1 Jn. 9).

      Moses and Elijah were prophets of God during the Old Testament times. But God removed the law of Moses when Jesus died on the cross (Col. 2:14; Gal. 3:24-25). Now the New Covenant of Christ is God’s will for His people (Heb. 8:6-9; 9:15-17; Jn. 12:48).

      Jesus is our only Lord (Eph. 4:5). He is our only mediator, not Mary or other departed saints (1 Tim. 2:5). He is our only way to God (Jn. 14:6). We honor God the Father through Christ the Son (Jn. 5:22-23; 16:23-24).

“You shall never wash my feet.”

      After the last supper, Jesus began washing the feet of His disciples (Jn. 13:1-17). But Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!” (13:8). Jesus reasoned with him, and Peter finally allowed it.

      Pride often prevents us from serving others — and letting others help us. Jesus did not lose His greatness by serving others. In fact, we see His greatness through His service. He did not come to be served, but to serve (Matt. 20:28; Phil. 2:5-11). Later, Peter wrote, “...Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble’” (1 Peter 5:5).

“...I will not deny You!”

      Jesus warned that His disciples would forsake Him. Peter argued, “...I will never be made to stumble” (Matt. 26:33). Jesus then warned that Peter would deny Him three times that night. Peter replied, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” (26:35). But he did. He denied Christ exactly as He foretold (Matt. 26:57-75).

      Jesus did not abandon Peter, but helped him overcome his sin (Lk. 22:31-32; Jn. 21:15-19). After Jesus arose, Peter boldly preached Christ to the people who had murdered Him, endured prison, and met death without once turning from the Lord (Acts 2-4; 2 Peter 1:12-15).

      Peter’s mistakes do not destroy our respect for him. Instead, they endear him to us. He becomes more beloved to us because we, like Peter, make mistakes. And, as Peter overcame his mistakes with the Lord’s help, you and I can do the same.