Peter and Andrew would have moments to speak privately, and the theme was always the same, “Can this man really be the Messiah?” The works He was doing were undeniable; actually shocking would be a better word. Only God could do such things. Raising the dead? No one even considered the possibility! They wondered about the apparent unbelief from the Pharisees and the Rabbi’s. Why were they rejecting Jesus as Messiah? It was as if they refused to consider Him. Jesus radiated a power and authority that was undeniable. He didn’t quote the great Rabbi’s as the authority, He was the authority, and within a few short words, would turn the religious leaders inside out. He certainly was not making any friends with them.
Peter grew more and more in his admiration and respect of Jesus. And as his admiration of Him grew so did Peter’s disdain for the religious leaders, in fact Peter decided he didn’t like these people, and when Peter decided you were not his kind of people, you were going to know it. This was a trait that Peter had taken on from the early days in his life. Peter saw the injustice of how men treated one another, and how they treated women, and especially how the Romans treated the Jews. Never a day went by when Peter wasn’t reminded that they lived in occupied territory. It wasn’t fair. It was more than not fair, it was unjust and cruel, every day. Peter felt deep bitterness within himself. One time Peter saw the Romans mistreating an older Jewish man, beating him like he was a dog.
Without hesitation Peter attempted to attack the two Roman soldiers, to defend the old man, but before he got two steps toward the conflict a roman soldier on horseback knocked Peter off his feet issuing a stern warning for him to stay away. He never forgot that day. He held a hatred for the Romans.
One day after Jesus was talking about a subject that unsettled Peter. Peter asked Jesus, “how often shall I forgive my brother, up to seven times?” Jesus perceived that Peters question was revealing an area he really struggled with, one that many people wrestle with – an unforgiving heart. Peter was the man who believed in God, but couldn’t forgive, but as Peter spent more time around Jesus, he was realizing that this was a contradiction to Jesus. As typical Jesus’ response left those in the hearing stumped, “not seven times, but seventy times seven.”
Peter’s struggle with unforgiveness took on a new dimension the day they came for Jesus. They sensed that with the growing hostility from the Pharisees, something bad was coming, but they had no idea that things would get as awful as they did. The night before, Jesus had started talking about how he had to die, again. The last time Jesus spoke like this Peter questioned Jesus, but Jesus told him to “get behind me Satan.” Peter was stunned and very confused. Now Jesus was speaking of the same subject again. Peter was hearing none of that talk, saying, “Even if all are made to stumble because of you, I will never leave you.” Jesus looked at Peter and said, “before this night ends, you will deny me three times.”
This was the night Peter would never forget. The soldiers seemed to come from nowhere. Peter and the others were exhausted, having fallen asleep on the ground. Jesus was off alone, spending time with the Father. Suddenly they were all awakened by Jesus saying, “Rise, let us be going, My betrayer is at hand.” Seeing the soldiers approaching Peter jumped up.
Here they were again, the Romans, the ones Peter hated, except this time they were walking with the Pharisees? What kind of bizzare mix of people was this? The disciples never saw these two groups together. One of the soldiers reached out to grab Jesus, and when he did, Peter immediately drew a sword and swung for the man’s head. The soldier ducked but Peter managed to catch the side of his head, taking his ear off. Peter knew this was a capital crime, but he was not going to let these Romans take away Jesus, not under any circumstances, and then, like He had done so many times before, Jesus stepped in, put his hand on the side of the Roman soldiers head and immediately his ear was healed. Everyone stopped. Jesus then asked, Whom do you seek?” When they spoke His name Jesus responded, “I am He”, and immediately everyone there fell to the ground. It was as if the earth shook. It seemed apparent that the only way anyone was taking Jesus was if He allowed Himself to be taken, which He did. In a moment Jesus was headed away, and the rest of the disciples ran for their lives, even Peter.
The next 12 hours was a nightmare resulting in Jesus being accused falsely, severely beaten repeatedly, and then actually crucified? Peter looked on from a distance. How did all this happen? There was not a more beautiful person on the planet. Where was God? How could God allow this? Peter found himself thinking his old thoughts again. He believed in God, but didn’t think He was fair. God where are you, how could you do this? Peter thought, how could I have fled? Who am I? How could I have been such a coward? What is wrong with everything?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Yes, I was. I was there. Not only was I there, but I have realized, He was there because of me. He was there for me.
It doesn’t seem fair.