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Old Peter / New Peter

• Greg Boyd

The Apostle Peter had to learn the hard way how to follow Jesus. His three denials of Christ—and then three affirmations of love—marked the major turning point away from fear and toward imitating Christ.

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Peter held the common belief that the messiah would come to wage a military campaign against the Romans in order to free the Jews from oppression. The militant view of God is always fueled by fear. People are afraid and feel threatened by the idea that perhaps evil is winning in the world and things feel out of control. Our fear lures us into wanting a quick and dramatic fix through some show of force that overthrows the enemy. This same fear-based militancy is present in both Christianity and Islam. The radical fringes take things into their own hands and get violent in order to force the results they want. Rather than expressing radical faith, this actually reveals a lack of trust that God is ultimately in control.

God has clearly commanded us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. If we trust God, this is the sort of action we will take in dealing with those who threaten us. Jesus prophesized that Peter would deny him three times because he knew that Peter needed total clarity on this. Peter needed to hit rock bottom with Jesus by denying that he even knew him and then Peter needed Jesus to give him another chance. Jesus gave him three chances. One to counteract each betrayal. Peter was hurt by the idea that Jesus needed him to answer three times, but nothing could be more important for Peter than that he change his ways on this point. He needed to stop the fear and fully trust in the self-sacrificial love that Jesus taught him. It was only then that Peter was worthy of feeding Jesus’ sheep.

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Topics: Fear, Love, Non-Violence

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Focus Scripture:

  • Luke 22:54-62

    Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him."
    But he denied it. “Woman, I don't know him,” he said.
    A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them."
    “Man, I am not!” Peter replied.
    About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean."
    Peter replied, “Man, I don't know what you're talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

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One thought on “Old Peter / New Peter

  1. Marcus says:

    Thank you for bringing the light of love to the conversation, there are so many times I feel overwhelmed with the fear and hate projected by so many others that it weighs me down. Your sermon was powerful and reminds Christians are called to love and trust in God.

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