The Lord feeds His people. And He also teaches them to feed others. He meant His abundant Creation to be enjoyed and shared by all of His “creatures great and small”. His Kingdom fills the material and spiritual needs of those He has called to benefit from His magnificent works. When He said “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33), He laid down how we can satisfy His commands and, thereby, savor His great blessings.
When Christ resurrected and met His disciples by the Sea of Galilee, He showed them the abundance of His provisions. (John 21:1-11) The lake from which He initiated His messengers to fulfill the establishment of the promised Kingdom had also been the site of His ministry in preaching the Word, healing people and showing His power. He had miraculously given fish out of it to fishermen (Luke 6:1-11), walked on its waters (Matt. 14:22-33), calmed a storm (Mark 4:35-41) and drowned demons in its deeps (Luke 8:26-39). His return to it and His replay of His miraculous provision of fish to the same people now completed the full cycle of His earthly work that would soon encompass the whole world through the labors of those chosen messengers.
He had chosen, first of all, a few fishermen as carriers of His Gospel. Having risen from death, He wanted them to see Him not just the same stranger they had encountered and who gave them a plentiful catch for their livelihood. No, He was fulfilling His prophecy that they would indeed become “fishers of men”, duly-commissioned and fully-equipped. Essentially the same situation and miracle happened but under different circumstances. He again appeared to them as a stranger Who “accidentally” happened to be there when they needed help. They were also tired, sleepy, hungry, thirsty and miserably unfruitful in their work. What was new this time?
Flashback a few days to when the apostles became scattered after Christ’s death and His resurrection: Some of them had seen the resurrected Lord on the day He arose; but some had not and still doubted. Christ had told them to meet Him in Galilee; that is why they left Jerusalem even though the first instruction was to remain in the city. What may have caused the change of plan, since the Gospel accounts seem to be inconsistent. Perhaps, the authorities may have mobilized people to search for Christ’s disciples and question them on the “disappearance” of Christ’s body. The guards at His tomb would have surely been executed for failing at their job of securing the tomb; but they connived with their leaders to spread the rumor that the disciples stole the body. (Matt. 14:22-33) Hence, the disciples secluded themselves in a secret upper-room right after they had seen the arisen Christ and some of them proceeded to Galilee as told by the Lord. (Notice, however, that their fear disappeared after they had received the Holy Spirit.) (Acts 2:46-48)
Some scholars claim the apostles wanted to return to their work as fishermen. Really? After having worked closely 3 years with the promised Messiah and witnessing His death and resurrection, they would turn back as the farmer who had put his hand on the plow and “looked back”? (Luke 9:62) No, they had specific instructions from the Lord and they wanted to catch fish to provide for people who were sequestered and needed food. Although they could have been fasting all the while, for the “groom had been taken from them” and He had been hinting at leaving them and giving them a Helper in His absence, they probably broke fast to travel to Galilee. They had no idea what lay ahead. All they needed to do was to wait for the Holy Spirit as the Lord had told them. (Acts 2:46-48)
And so, we find 7 of them catching fish in the Sea of Galilee. We have seen what happened in Part 6.
Christ did feed them with fish and bread – all by Himself. It was now time to round up everything that He had said and done in their presence from the start and let the whole world know about Him. He had 12 apostles again and a hundred or so disciples besides ready to do His bidding. There were 120 of them listed in the roster, as Luke wrote in (Acts 1:15) Nevertheless, there was some “dirty work” that needed to be done before they could all be truly ready to begin the work. He knew all of them, especially a few who were close to Him. One was a particularly thorny character that needed some plucking or pruning: Peter, a.k.a. as Simon Bar-Jonah.
Knowing they were caught between the greatest event in human history and the long-awaited promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit and the Kingdom, the disciples’ anticipation must have been more than they could handle. But Peter had an idea and said “I am going fishing!” Six others joined him. His restlessness seemed to rise above the euphoria as well as the pall of uncertainty that hang over them. The Sun had gone down as they waited for the Lord’s appearance by the lake and, instead of waiting out the night, Peter had the urge to break the monotony to do some gainful work. That whole night, they worked without success.
In their direst and weakest moment just before sunrise, they saw a stranger on the shore giving them a fishing tip. They did not care who it was; they did not even remember it was a déjà vu moment; for the Lord had caught them unaware. Only when they saw the big catch that they woke up to the reality. “It is the Lord!” John said.
In his typical attitude, Peter impulsively put on his outer garments and plunged into the water. Why? Did he unconsciously think he could run to the Lord on top of the water in the same way that he had walked toward Him before when He walked on water? Or did he rush to the Lord to thank him for saving their night and day from utter failure? He had forgotten about the fish and left the boat and his friends; all he wanted to do was to be with the Lord. The Lord must have been touched by Peter’s love. Yet, it also showed that, although he may have been the eldest among them, he was the most childish. They finally caught fish but the work of counting, cleaning and storing the fish had yet to be done; but Peter left that “work of Martha” and did a “Mary” by swimming to the Lord.
The Lord had to remind Peter and said, “Bring some of the fish here.” Peter turned back and dragged the haul alone. Imagine how big and strong Peter must have been to be able to drag probably a ton of fish on to shore. He must have been all adrenaline! Straining hard on the net which surprisingly did not break, he knew nothing was impossible for him now. They cooked some fish and ate it along with what the Lord offered them. How did those men feel eating with the Lord at that moment? Like being in Heaven, of course! If only discipleship was that euphoric all the time! Only those men and the women who first saw Christ after His resurrection knew how it felt. It is something we can only read about and tell to others. However, it was but a foretaste of even greater things to come for them.
But as we said, Peter had a lesson or two coming. Having eaten and rested from the work they had done, the Lord now brought up what Peter needed to do as His messenger. Three times He asked Peter if he loved Him and, after, said, “Feed My lambs and My sheep.” Although reproved, embarrassed and a bit irritated, Peter proved his remorse and his love for Him. Then the Lord asked him to follow Him. They both stood and walked, with the rest following them.
This part of the story has been milked by theologians and used to convince people that Peter was the “chief apostle” among the 12. Before Peter denied Christ, He had told him that Satan “had asked for you”. Satan was “sifting” Peter, that is, making him go through a gauntlet or a fiery trial with the intention of stealing Christ’s sheep. (Luke 22:31-34) From whom did Satan ask for Peter? From Christ or the Father? Most likely from the Father, for Christ said He prayed for Peter that he might overcome Satan – why would He pray to Himself? Hence, just as He had prayed for the Father to spare Him from the cross, He also prayed for Peter that He might strengthen him against Satan’s temptations. We can see now why Christ spent time to correct and build up Peter since He knew Satan would hound him; but His main concern was to seek Peter’s utmost cooperation against Satan even though his power of death had been rendered ineffective through Christ’s resurrection. Seeing the mind of Christ in this story helps us erase any presumptions about Peter’ being “chief” — no, rather, he was a “mischief” to be disciplined!
But why Peter? As we have related, Peter’s character was conducive of a person who could be easily manipulated by wicked spirits to do impulsive things. Thus, he cut off the servant’s ear, took an oath not to deny the Lord which he did thrice and, in the future, would act hypocritically before Gentile believers. (Gal. 2:11-13) Peter was a firebrand beyond his own control and needed nursing from the Lord Himself. The 3 “feed” commands and the instruction to “strengthen his brethren” were the Lord’s way of propping up Peter for the great work they were all about to do. With a weak and unstable Peter, the whole flock would also fail. His show of persistence at fishing the whole night came from his great pride to fulfill his plan “to go fishing”. It was his idea and he needed to prove he was still good at it after a leave-of-absence of 3 years. Failure was not an option; thus, he marshaled his friends to the task. Yet, he forgot to remind himself and others that their success could come only from the Lord. It was only when the Lord appeared and gave them hope and success that they remembered and relearned the vital lesson.
Thus, Peter (like the rest) had the determination to be strong for himself and for his friends, if he could only sustain it. It was his only way to strengthen his friends: by being strong in the Lord. He was neither the chief among them, nor was he chosen to be the leader of them all. Christ was the Leader and only He had the right and authority to say, “Follow Me.” He never said to the rest, “Follow Peter.” No, He was rebuking him in their presence; and He had other things to say to Peter.
In the same conversation, Christ prophesied how Peter would die in the hands of wicked people. It was God’s show of sacrifice before Satan, just as He had shown it through His Son’s death that His power may be perfected. Not one of the apostles was greater than Christ. (John 13:16) What sinners did to Him, they did to His disciples. The Kingdom is worth all the love and sacrifices of Christ and the apostles. Today, we fail to appreciate that fact. Discipleship has become a very comfortable – and profitable – profession.
So, where is the Chief Apostleship theologians talk about in this story, confirming supposedly Peter’s being the Rock upon which Christ will “build His church”? Remember that Christ rebuked Satan from using Peter to tempt Him to commit unrighteousness. “Get behind Me, Satan!” (Matt. 16:21-23) Satan had often whispered behind Peter’s ears. The only way to prevent that was to drive Satan away from Peter and send him to His back. Any other place spells danger for anyone. So, next time you try to rebuke Satan, do not quote Christ, or Satan will remain behind you! As God had told Cain as well, “Sin crouches at your door.” (Nobody enters a house and then remains facing the door!) In short, keep Satan in His rightful position for now: behind Christ (spiritual words), meaning, look at Christ or focus on the Lord and not on evil (spiritual thought).
Finally, we notice how Peter looked back at John and asked the Lord what would happen to him. Peter and John were the two closest to Him. Peter was not curious about gaining a higher position than John, as is common among politicians who kowtow to higher authorities. He was simply lessening the impact of his own martyrdom and wondering how John would meet his own martyrdom, as he had supposed. Once more, Christ rebuked him and said the most intriguing statement ever said about John. In fact, it became a “theological” rumor he felt he had to correct in his own account of the Gospel. (John 21:20-23) Peter had denied Christ whereas John hsd accompanied His mother, Mary, who followed Jesus right up to Calvary and at the feet of the cross. Words of love sound good; but works of love are much sweeter. Peter and John equally worked their love for the Lord to the end.
As His final refutation of Peter’s presumptuous character, Christ, in effect, was saying: This is a way to prove your love for Me, Peter. Just as I have proven My love for the Father and His people, I want you to prove your love for Me through your death. Repentance and confession are not enough for the Lord. Sacrifice is also necessary. It was a fair exchange for his denial and assured his final victory over Satan. Peter was going to have to face Satan and repudiate him through a painful death. The Lord had spoken. To ask if John was also going to face his own martyrdom was not the issue. Stay on topic and focus on your own issues, not those of others.
If I will that he remains till I come, what is that to you? Or, in other words, you can feed the sheep but how and when the owner decides to slaughter the sheep is not your concern. Peter was not the Chief Apostle or the Shepherd of the Flock or the Owner of the Fold. Christ is. He is the Rock. Each one of the apostles had a role to accomplish as part of the whole foundation of the Kingdom. Peter or the “stone” was one of the chosen 12 who would form that permanent foundation of God’s Kingdom, with Christ as cornerstone. (Eph. 2:19-22) The hardness of his character came from his name; but his instability as a strong support for others was in question and needed the Lord’s correction and supervision. He had been apprised of his own personal situation, provided the encouragement to overcome his shortcomings and given a view of the end of his life when he will finally gain glory and vindication against Satan. Christ wanted Peter to rest on those blessings and promises to be worthy to be counted among the 12 He was sending to the whole world. He had gotten rid of the betrayer; another weak link in the chain would jeopardize His work. In fact, a 13th apostle was necessary to fortify the foundation. If Peter were indeed enough, as some think, why another one?
Being told of your faults is often hard to take, especially from Christ Himself. However, being told that Satan himself is after you and out to give you a hard time can be traumatic, especially coming from Christ as well. Nevertheless, being assured that you will overcome Satan in the end even at a painful death is great consolation, most especially coming from Christ. Peter did spend a big part of his life dodging Satan’s arrows while getting wounded at times. We rejoice that Christ succeeded with Peter.
Sifting can either mean refining something, such as flour or sand, or removing the smaller or bigger parts that do not fit the size needed, such as gravels for building works. So, when Christ said Satan was sifting Peter, we can be quite sure that he was “removing” Peter from the designed good work the Lord had planned for him to accomplish. That is, to strengthen his friends and to feed the sheep – nothing more.
Although Satan worked hard on Peter and failed, he did not stop. He also “shifted” Peter to continue his war of attrition against God and His people. Shifting means changing or reforming a thing or a person to create a new thing or image other than the original or the truth. The Great Deceiver mastered this trick as we have shown. If he could not tempt Christ, Peter and the rest of the disciples, he would work on millions of others.
After Peter’s gruesome death (crucified upsidedown, allegedly), Satan did not waste time using Peter’s reputable name, his high-calling as apostle, his courageous character, his perceived leadership, his charismatic influence and his Jewish descent to create a worldly kingdom that would replace the one Christ established. He could have used Paul; however, he was a Johnny-come-lately who did not fish with Christ, eat with Him or walk with him on water. Peter was definitely a more intriguing character, aside from having been a close companion of Christ throughout His ministry.
Here is how Organic Faith in the Gospel has been twisted through the Shifted Peter:
First, Peter and his brother, Andrew, were the first apostles recruited. First and last, however, are the same to the Lord, Who said “The first will be last; the last first” (Matt. 20:1-16) and that the “The greatest is the servant” (Matt. 20:20-28). A spiritual-word/spiritual-thought combination: first or greatest(spiritual words)/servant (spiritual thought) – the one who serves others is the one who pleases God. We have seen the character of Peter and somehow gleaned how he struggled to avoid “lording it over others”. Yet, the “Shifted Peter” (what we refer to Satan’s handiwork in our times) has become not only the first among all humans but also the highest authority and the source of “inerrant truth”.
Second, among the apostles, Peter’s being a fisherman made him the prime candidate to become the perfect chief representative of Christ or Chief Apostle even though no such title or position was ever given. We already clarified what “feed My sheep” signified. It is simply tempting to see his lowly job as “fisherman” highlighted and elevated into his sublime work as “top fisher of men” by bestowing an unauthorized office. Thus, the symbol of fish has become an official logo or symbol itself of Christianity, especially those who proclaim Peter as their precursor and “foremost apostle” from whom they derived their succeeding offices. Today, the Shifted Peter has become a by-word and has a virtual palace built in his name, as well as buildings, churches, businesses, schools, charitable homes, funeral parlors, etc.
Third, Peter was the one sent by God to convert the first Gentile, Cornelius (Acts 10) As a Jew, he hesitated to go and “eat unclean food”, spiritual words to mean deal with Gentiles in response to the spiritual calling. But God made it clear that it was the next stage in preaching the Gospel. Thus, the Gentiles also received the Holy Spirit after Peter’s teachings. This may preempt whatever Paul did later on and certainly puts Peter way ahead in the work of spreading the work. Note, especially, that the first Gentile convert was a Roman official. This suggests that Shifted Peter’s present title has historical roots in the beginnings of the early assemblies of believers not only in Judea but also in Rome. However, this has also no relation whatsoever to any high position or special role granted to any of the apostles. We remind people that it is the Holy Spirit Who converts, not apostles, theologians or preachers. Humans merely plant; God gives the success. (1 Cor. 3:6-8) Preempting that role and success makes us First-place and Greatest-glory Grabbers. Christ cursed the Pharisees for that attitude. (Matt. 23:1-12)
Fourth, Peter’s sermon on Pentecost Day gave “Peter Shifters” strong reason to claim Peter was also the spokesperson among the apostles. Really? Did that make Aaron also greater than Moses? Or the apostles greater than the Lord in His absence?
First of all, they all received the Holy Spirit, miraculous gifts, the ability to understand the Word of Christ as He had promised and to heal. Secondly, there were more than 3,000 gathered in Jerusalem that momentous day. Would it have been proper for all of the apostles to speak at the same time before that big crowd? Thirdly, there must have been more than a hundred of them present at that time ready to minister to the new converts, baptizing them, teaching them, counseling them and fellowshipping with them. Their new, fulfilled designation as the “firstfruits of Christ” made them all equal in the eyes of God and before one another. (Lev. 23:9-22) It was no time to think of who was better, higher or more powerful. They had all disbelieved, denied, hated, accused, maligned, cursed and crucified Christ. Their euphoria at having been forgiven and given the promises of the Messiah was the GREATEST GIFT AND NEWS FOR ALL OF THEM. Peter was privileged to speak for the group; but it was but one sermon among many that day the disciples gave. Even the new converts spoke tongues and saw visions, hence, prophesied and declared God’s glory. Let us not think for a second that they bowed or knelt before Peter the way people do before Shifted Peter!
If all the also converts received the Holy Spirit, what would have prevented them from learning as well from the Holy Spirit directly? Peter was the prime spokesperson? No, he spoke as the Holy Spirit “gave him utterance”. (Acts 2:1-4) So with the rest of the disciples. Test whoever gives you a thought or an utterance.
Lastly and the biggest reason used to prop up the Shifted Peter is the interview in Matthew 16:13-20. “Who do people think that I Am?” Christ had asked. That was after others had reported the wrong reports from people who thought He was Elijah, Jeremiah, a prophet, etc. But Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Christ commended Peter, saying, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah; for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you; but My Father who is in Heaven.” (Matt. 16:18) Notice, in particular, that “THIS” (that is, Peter’s statement) was “given” to him from God in Heaven, not by anyone or from anywhere else. Take note, theologians! Then Christ said, “I tell you, YOU are Peter and upon THIS rock I will build My church.”
Look at the spiritual-thought/spiritual-word combinations here:
First of all, the issue or topic is: WHO IS CHRIST? And the right and true answer is: THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. THIS then is the THIS in this passage, noting else, not who Peter or Simon is, nor who or what he is to the work of God. This is where Satan shifts the focus of people from Christ to Peter. He does not merely shift Peter but people in order to lead them astray. Beware!!!
Rock is petra in Greek, a feminine noun. Why? Perhaps, because it can produce smaller rocks or stones. Or because it is large, heavy, hard and pregnant in meaning – pun intended, of course. Petros, on the other hand, is a masculine name meaning stone or pebble. Rock, therefore, is a spiritual-word that signifies a strong foundation (spiritual-thought). THIS is the ENTIRE TRUTH that Peter declared rightly and properly acknowledged by Christ — and the whole point of the Gospel – as well as their conversation. (Certain theologians would do well to discern this with the Spirit.)
On the other hand, petros is a spiritual word signifying Peter’s (and anyone’s) spiritual relation to the Rock. Peter could never be bigger, stronger, better and holier that Christ. He was indeed small, weak, lesser and less-righteous by far compared to Christ. Now, to say Christ established His Kingdom (spiritual-word) on Peter or any stone, for that matter, is a great fallacy concocted by theologians. No, He planted the true seed or message of His Kingdom in the hearts of those who believe the testimony of Christ (spiritual-truth). By the way, He was not establishing a religion or organization but His Spiritual Kingdom to be the inheritance of those who will be “called out” or ekklesia (spiritual-thought-or-word) signifying those whom God will choose to become His holy people (spiritual-thought-or-truth) in that Kingdom.
Note that once you are called out, you enter the Kingdom – yes, from the world of darkness to the glorious place. (Col. 1:13) In a way, church or ekklesia is a passé word, unless it means assembly. This stems from the ancient term convocation (a calling-out, literally, meaning to discuss together), which is very similar to communion (common union). Again, Christ was talking about an individual’s connection with God, as He emphasized by renaming Peter in relation to Himself; for every person in the Kingdom has supreme worth to Him, belongs to Him and is loved by Him.
Why did Christ change Peter’s name? He was transforming Peter into a new vessel worthy of his declaration of the Truth. This did not mean the rest of the apostles were less blessed; for they all believed as Peter did, except perhaps Judas. But we now know how Peter went into a great sifting to get to where he wanted to go. Hence, to make Peter above the rest and more than what he was simply given as a privileged role of an apostle is to shift Peter into something else the Holy Spirit did not reveal or desire.
We realize theologians and believers who adhere to a Shifted Peter give zero weight to the above arguments, namely: the distinct reference of THIS to Christ’s Messiahship, the significance of either ROCK or PETROS and how their genders differ, and that the issue was all about Christ’s eternal identity and not Peter’s new personal identity. Hence, in the clear and undeniable testimony of the Holy Spirit regarding the whole intent of Christ’s statement, these “Shifters” adamantly conclude that PETROS, in fact, is the ROCK and that they are one and the same, that Peter had been granted the highest honor of being the foundation of the “church”, and that the changing of his name was for the sole purpose of instituting him, in effect and therefore, as the highest authority over the “church” in place of Christ (if not, equal or below Him) and above all the rest of the apostles. In short, these “Shifters” utilize the worst kind of logic and sophistry to reclaim the person of Peter as a backdoor way into the authority of Christ for their shadowy ends. We know where this all leads to. But do they?
We hope to present how these Shifters and other twisters of the Word have misapplied the Key of Truth.