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Second Quarter 2017 (March 25–June 23)
COMMENTARY ON "FEED MY SHEEP": FIRST AND SECOND PETER
Week 1: March 25–31
COMMENTARY ON "THE PERSON OF PETER"
Following is a combined commentary on the material included in the Bible Study Guide with references as necessary to the supplemental passages included in the E. G. White Notes for the Sabbath School Lessons.
Note: Unless otherwise stated, all biblical quotes are from the English Standard Version (ESV).
Day One, Sabbath Afternoon, March 25: Introduction
This is the passage that the quarterly uses to contrast Peter before and after Calvary:
But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, "Lord, save me." Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Matt. 14:30-31)
So yes indeed, why did Peter doubt? Or rather, why did he no longer have any doubts after the resurrection? First we will follow along with each of the daily lessons and then on Friday's commentary address this question, founded upon what Scripture teaches.
Day Two, Sunday, March 26: Depart From Me!
The title for today's lesson comes from Luke 5:8, the account of Jesus' miracle of the overflowing net full of fish, upon which Peter falls in front of Jesus knees and said; “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord”.
When Luke 5:1-11 is compared with John 1:35-42 we find that Andrew the brother of Simon is one of the first to follow Jesus. It appears that the account recorded in the Gospel of John must have occurred prior to what is recorded in the Luke account. In the John account Jesus meets Simon and tells him he shall be known as 'Cephas' which means 'Peter'. In Luke's account he is known as 'Simon Peter':
One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter). (John 1:40-42)
In John's account Andrew finds his brother Simon and tells him that Jesus is the long promised Messiah. We also learn two things about certain names. 'Christ' means 'Messiah' and 'Cephas' means 'Peter' or 'Rock' as recorded in Matt.16:18 in the words of Jesus.
In the Luke account, the miracle of the overflowing catch of fish, we see that Simon Peter not only knows that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah) but that he is someone who is holy, in-other-words he realized Jesus is the Son of God. Peter, who knew himself to be "a sinful man" trembled in feared at being in the same boat with Jesus.
For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. (Luke 5:9-11)
As Jesus later says in Matt. 16:13-19, only the 'Father who is in heaven' could have reveled to Peter that he is the 'Son of the living God'.
Day Three, Monday, March 27: Confessing the Christ
In today's lesson we are ask to read at Matt. 16:13-17:
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. (Matt. 16:13-20)
From John 1:40-42 where Andrew told his brother Simon “We have found the Messiah” we are informed that the name 'Christ' means 'Messiah' and that this knowledge was an understanding that must have been shared by all of Jesus' chosen disciples from the very beginning. Of course two chapters back in Matt. 14 verses 22 & 33 the disciples worship Jesus as the Son of God.
What Jesus says to Peter is; “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven....." When we read on down to verse twenty-three the one thing Peter didn't understand was that the Messiah 'must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised' in fulfillment of many Old Testament prophecies including where God told the serpent:
The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Gen. 3:14-15)
Jesus' responded to what Peter said (Matt. 16:23) by saying “Get behind me, Satan! you are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man”. This was a direct command that Satan had no choice but obey.
Day Four, Tuesday, March 28: Walking on Water
Today we are examining the time when Peter walks on water as recorded in Matt. 14:22-33.
The lesson comments are in error in that they focus on Peter instead of Jesus.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Rom. 7:21-8:4)
Day Five, Wednesday, March 29: Denying His Lord
The lesson topic is on when Peter denied knowing Jesus "three times before the rooster crowed on this very day".
The quarterly lesson errors by focusing on Peter's failure without stressing that all the other remaining disciples had also abandoned Jesus. They would later learn that in their abandonment of him Jesus would never do the same to them. Ironically Judas did the reverse by betraying Jesus with a kiss.
Here is what Jesus actually said to Peter at the Lord's Supper:
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.” (Luke 22:31-34)
Once again the lesson attention is on self and sinners instead of Jesus:
'How can we learn to forgive those who have greatly disappointed us, as Peter disappointed Jesus here?'
What we should do is remember how Jesus forgave Judas.
Scripture does not say Jesus was disappointed with Peter's actions. The one thing Jesus did do was to pray that Peter's faith would not fail while at the very same time knowing Peter would deny him three times. Since in the infinite power of Jesus as the Son of God he wouldn't pray for something that would not also occur we must believe Peter's faith never failed even in his denial of Jesus.
A few short hours before Peter's actual denial Jesus assured Peter that he would "have turned again" and would then be able to 'strengthen his brothers'. While Peter would spend three days in remorse over his denial of Jesus, Jesus' comforting words which culminated with his resurrection would dynamically transform Peter as was displayed on the day of Pentecost.
This same Peter who had denied knowing Jesus preached and about three thousand souls were ushered into the kingdom of God:
So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. (Acts 2:41)
The lesson then says this:
"According to Ellen G. White, Peter’s compromise and failure began in Gethsemane when, instead of praying, he slept, and thus wasn’t spiritually ready for what was coming. Had he been faithful in prayer, she wrote, “he would not have denied his Lord.”—The Desire of Ages, p. 714."
Since Jesus had already told Peter he was under a direct attack by Satan and that Peter would deny him as a result of this how dare Ellen G. White suggest and attach importance to something Scripture does not say was what led to his denial. Condemning him as she does is precisely what our loving Savior Jesus Christ does not do to Peter.
Later on, in John 21:15-19, instead of rebuking Peter for his past failures, Jesus quietly asked Peter if he loves him three times. After Peter's repeated response that he does loved him, Jesus' instruction to Peter is to "Feed my sheep." and "Follow me."
Day Six, Thursday, March 30: Peter as Church Leader
The lesson theme for today begins with this statement:
"During the ministry of Jesus, Peter often acted in the role of leader of the 12 disciples. He was their usual spokesman. When Matthew lists the disciples, he says “first, . . . Peter” (Matt. 10:2). Peter also took a prominent role in the early church."
Peter didn't assume leadership on his own authority. Jesus Christ publically appointed Peter as his personal spokesman (ambassador) with full authority to lead and make decisions affecting the church, the true universal body of Christ here on earth. As is true with any ambassador his one main duty was to communicate the will of Jesus Christ that would apply to the church in all ages.
Jesus' one important command just before his ascension was the instruction to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit which occurred on the day of Pentecost. Before that day however, the one astounding event that changed the life of Peter forever was the resurrection of Jesus Christ exactly as was promised by Jesus. The events of Calvary culminating in the resurrection fulfilled all the prophecies leading up to Calvary and revealed to Peter that everything Jesus Christ ever said to him was totally and eternally true. It humbled him that the Savior's love for him was eternally secure in spite of his own failure and sin contaminated flesh.
The mark of Peter's spiritual maturity and leadership is powerfully revealed to us when the Apostle Paul confronted Peter concerning the time when he took to setting himself apart from eating with Gentiles, Gal. 2:11-14. Yet Peter would say this of Paul:
Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:14-18)
Day Seven, Friday, April 1: Further Thought
Today's lesson quotes Ellen G. White where she says Peter was "Converted". Yet, as you study her words you will see that she fails to give a biblical understand of what it means to be converted by focusing on the actions of Peter instead of the works of Jesus Christ.
The biblical definition of 'converted' is to be found in John 3:1-15 where Jesus declares that our human dead spirit must be "born again" of the Holy Spirit before you can be brought into the kingdom of God and have eternal life. Jesus Christ, through his atoning death at Calvary for the sins of the world is the one who will bring a sinner into the kingdom of God through his gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. None of this is of the will or actions of self. The sins of a sinner can only be covered by the sinless holy shed blood of Jesus Christ the Messiah.
It is for good reason that the Christian faith is founded upon and compared to that of Abraham's. As was mentioned earlier this week, God gave Abram (Abraham) the sign of circumcision in the covenant he made with Abraham without Abraham ever becoming a perfect man and long before the time he obeyed God in his willingness to sacrifice Isaac. God reckoned Abraham as perfect and in the kingdom of God only upon the yet to be shed blood of the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ.