Peter's Rebuke

by Nicole Austin
The road to Caesarea Philippi was long, and Peter found that as he walked along, he had much to preoccupy him. The things he had seen in the days since he had chosen to follow the Teacher were amazing, beyond comprehension. From that first day, when Jesus had called him and his brother as they fished near the banks of the Sea of Galilee, his life had been turned upside down. They hadn’t even stopped to moor their boats or store their nets… they had just heard the call, and answered. Since then, Peter had seen Jesus feed thousands of hungry people from just a handful of loaves of bread, and had seen a young girl raised from the dead after her father implored Jesus to heal her. Just days ago, in Bethsaida, a blind man had been granted vision by a simple touch from the Teacher’s hands. Now Jesus was taking them to Caesarea Philippi, a place Peter had heard spoken of with disdain by the leaders of the synagogue. It was a pagan city, a place where worshippers of the god Pan engaged in all manner of depravity and sin. Peter knew that he was safe with Jesus, but he still felt uneasy as they made their way along the dusty, rock-filled road.

As they stopped to break bread and rest their weary legs a moment, Jesus began to speak to them of the days to come. Amongst themselves, the disciples wondered what the future held for Jesus, and while some longed for the day when Jesus would lead them in victory against the oppressive rule of the Romans, Peter feared that this gentle and compassionate Teacher whom he loved so well had a different plan in mind. His greatest fears were realized as Jesus began to teach, and to tell them that the Son of Man would suffer and be rejected by the chief priests and scribes. Already Peter had seen how angry Jesus made the temple leaders, and he knew that their wrath would be severe when poured out against Him.

While the other disciples murmured and looked aghast, Jesus explained that He would be killed, and would rise again in three days’ time. At this, Peter’s brother Andrew grew pale and fell silent, and the other disciples began to discuss what Jesus could possibly mean by this declaration.

But Peter could no longer hold his tongue. He gently pressed on Jesus’ arm and whispered, “A word, Teacher?” As he and Jesus drew away from the rest of the disciples, Peter struggled to keep his voice calm and his eyes blinked away tears.  “My Lord,” he began, “Surely you do not mean this? You are the Son of God! We have seen what you can do. Death itself cannot defy you… we have seen you heal lepers and raise the dead. There is no power that will be able to conquer you. You cannot die. You must not die. We need you here with us.” As Peter continued to speak, his voice rose and his cheeks flushed. He thought of all that he and his brother had left behind, and despite himself, his anger grew. “Why else did you call us from our nets? What would you have us do if you abandon us like this?”

“Enough.” Jesus’ voice was kind but firm, and Peter immediately felt ashamed. “You are not speaking as yourself, Peter. These are Satan’s words, Satan’s taunts, much as I heard them in the wilderness.” Peter hung his head low, immediately aware of his own selfishness and neediness. The other disciples heard the tone in Jesus’ voice and looked up from their conversation, wondering what this was about. As Jesus continued, Peter felt the weight of His words as if they were being pressed into his heart with stone. “Set your mind on the things of God, Peter, for I will need you in the days to come. The road ahead is not without burden.” With that, Jesus turned to rejoin the others, and Peter was left with nothing to do but follow in His footsteps.
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