The Glance From Jesus
June 10, 2007
日本キリスト教団 頌栄教会牧師 清弘剛生 Pastor Takao Kiyohiro, Shoei Church, Church of Christ, Japan
Translator M.A.F., Indiana, USA
1. "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked God to sift you [all] like wheat. But, I have prayed for you that [your] faith not vanish. Therefore, when you recover, encourage the brothers," (verses thirty-one and thirty-two). Jesus said that to Simon. It was at the place of the supper, the night before the Lord was crucified, what is called, "The Last Supper."
Peter The Strong Man
2. Simon, also named Peter -- he once was a fisher from Galilee. Since occupations back then were normally inherited, he was born in a fisherman's house, so he was raised the son of a fisher. I believe that to become a person considered an adult in fishing, one received hard lessons from one's parents. You had to reliably carry out various duties at sea. Out there, strength was demanded from you to bear the responsibilities for your own role. Whatever the case, if you went out to sea competently enough, you would definitely be very ashamed as a fisherman if you were flustered on several occasions by exposing a weakness of yours on ship and being a drag for the rest of the crew members.
3. Also, if his house were a typical Jewish household, then he too would have received an education in the Torah. When a Jewish child turns thirteen years old, he was considered an adult and would be called "a son of the law." As a person belonging to the Jewish community, he would be charged with the responsibilities of the law. As a grown-up with obligations he would be required to [have] the strength to carry out precisely that which has been set forth. Not being able to keep the law, not only being charged with the transgression of a law, would be absolutely shameful for him as a full grown adult.
4. But, in the process in which a child becomes an adult, to be required [to have] the strength that is so self-reliant like that was not something peculiar to the homes of the Jew or a fisher. The same goes for us, too. Many of the children in [our] country are raised saying, "Don't bother others." We call the children who can do their own stuff well by himself or herself without borrowing the help of another person "kids with a good head on their shoulders." We slap the bad label of "Hey, how long will you be so useless?!" on the kids who only trouble others for help. Even in this country the ones who are praised when all is said and done are the self-reliant and strong. Being weak and needing the assistance of others are seen as shameful. Therefore, until the end of life, more than a few [women] have the ideal of being able to live saying, "I won't turn out to be a burden to my kids and grand kids!"
5. But yet the reality is that the ideal doesn't work out that way. Our weaknesses will always end up out in the open. There will be a time that unless we get assistance from someone else, we'll be undone. Even many times in the course of life, we'll get confused, discombobulated, and embarrassed over and over again. But, since we by nature feel that being strong is good, these weaknesses of ours will frequently be masked over immediately. We will try one way or another to smooth over appearances. Worse, we not only try to cover up our weaknesses before other people, we also attempt to cover them up before our own selves. We do things so we don't see our weaknesses, and we try to erase them from our own memory.
6. The man named Peter was like that, too. When we read the gospel account, he often exposes his weaknesses. For example, there was this: One day, when Jesus and the disciples were at the lake, the Lord stated, "Let's cross to the other side of the lake." Then Jesus and the disciples set out into the lake. However though, sudden gusts of wind kept blowing down upon the lake and they were getting drenched with water and it became dangerous. The disciples lost it and became confused. When you look, Jesus is fast asleep, so peacefully at that, even though the ship in the storm was about to sink. They woke the Lord up and said, "Master, master, we're gonna drown!" Whereupon, the Lord rebukes and silences the wind and the stormy waves, and then he says to the disciples, "Where is your faith?," (8:25).
7. The only one calm in the storm was Jesus, who was not a fisherman. Their reputation as professional fishermen was completely destroyed. It must have been a totally embarrassing experience for Peter. But, it looks like that disgrace would be stowed away in the bottom of Peter's heart. At the place of "The Last Supper" he would not recall the fact that he had once exposed a weakness. On the contrary, Peter and the other disciples were debating at "The Last Supper" "Who among us will be the greatest?," (22:24).
8. So far to this point, the gospel has given accounts of the meetings of Jesus with lots of people. A man possessed by an unclean spirit was set free. A person suffering from a serious skin disorder was cleansed and restored back to society. A palsied man who was brought along by friends received the declaration of the forgiveness of sin and was healed. He gave bread to more than five thousand persons who were hungry. The eyes of a blind beggar were healed. Many sought for deliverance and assembled together. Amid the dealings with those persons where were the twelve? How were they viewing the persons healed by the Lord? They were always right there next to Jesus. They were at the side of Jesus who was doing the healing and not at the side of those being healed. They put themselves at the side of the one giving the assistance and not at the side of the ones receiving the assistance. I think they drew a clear line between themselves and the blind beggar who was healed; for, at the very least, they themselves did not have need of such healing. They were "the disciples" recognizing themselves as the followers of Jesus, they were "the apostles." And now they are debating who is the greatest among them.
The Weak Man Peter
9. It was [at] that time. The Lord made an astonishing statement to Simon. "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked God to sift you [all] like wheat. But, I have prayed for you that [your] faith not vanish. Therefore, when you recover, encourage the brothers," (22:31-32).
10. He stated that Simon Peter was as a totally powerless and weak human being before the testing of Satan. He would be sifted out in that condition. Had Jesus not prayed, he said that [Simon] would be as a man who couldn't even maintain [his] faith. In short, he was saying that Peter himself would need the help of Jesus.
11. But, Simon Peter wasn't about to admit his own weaknesses. Peter did not recall his own figure when he was confused on that boat. Peter answered as follows. "Oh Lord, if you are with me, I have resolved that I should have to go to jail or even die," (verse thirty-three). But, Jesus spoke to Peter as follows. "Peter, I say to you, today you will say that you do not know [me] three times until the rooster crows," (verse thirty-four).
12. Then, what actually happened? When Jesus was arrested and brought to the house of the high priest, Peter followed from afar. Then he entered in as far as the courtyard of the mansion, and while he was at the fire with the other people there, he was keeping an eye on the developments. Whereupon at that time, as a certain young lady was staring at Peter, she said, "This man too was with him." Peter was surprised at the sudden identification and immediately denied it, "I don't know that man." A bit after that, another person looked at Peter and said, "You too are a member of his group." Peter again denied it, "No, that is not so." Then after as much as an hour passed, then another person insisted, "You certainly were with him because you're a Galilean." Once again, Peter denied that he had been with Jesus, "I don't understand what you are talking about." Whereupon, while he had not yet finished speaking thus, suddenly the rooster crowed. Then the scripture says, "The Lord turned and looked directly at Peter," (verse sixty-one).
13. Up to this point Peter should have seen the glances of Jesus directed on each person. The glance of mercy from Jesus directed to the blind beggar who had kept crying out, "Oh son of David, Jesus, please have mercy on me," (18:38). Perhaps standing near Jesus, Peter too must have turned a glance of mercy at him along with the Lord. That blind man was in a weak position in need of mercy, but on the other hand, Peter was a strong man standing with Jesus. Until the end, he would follow Jesus at risk to his life, he would share in the activities with the Lord, and he was a strong man willing and ready to do the will of the Lord.
14. But here, the glance from Jesus was directed right at Peter this time. "The Lord turned and looked directly at Peter." Peter had come to discover that the glance from the Lord was directed on none other than himself. At that moment he recalls the statement from the Lord, "Today you will say that you do not know [me] three times until the rooster crows." But what Peter recalled should have been not just that. He must have recalled the statement Jesus made just before that, "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked God to sift you [all] like wheat. But, I have prayed for you that [your] faith not vanish. Therefore, when you recover, encourage the brothers." That's right; Peter was certainly before the glance of mercy from the Lord [previously]. As a man for whom the Lord prayed he had been before the glance of the Lord [previously].
15. So, he was in tears. He was weeping out loud very hard. He was sad over his own weakness, and being sad over his sinfulness, he cried hard. He was able to cry. As a fisher, as a Jew, as one of the twelve disciples, and as the person who was supposed to be number two in the messianic kingdom he would have to be strong as per the future. Even though he did cry on behalf of others, it had never been for his own weaknesses and sinfulness.
16. But, it's okay. Jesus knew all about it. How ever tough [he] might have pretended to be or big a bluff [he] might have shown off, he understood that Jesus knew all about it. Therefore, Peter wept. Admitting the way he really and truly was, he wept severely. He was able to weep.
17. This is Peter. It is Peter the chief apostle afterwards. This narrative is recorded in all four gospels. Perhaps Peter the apostle later on must have told these events over and over to others. Unless there had been tears at that time, there would not have been a Peter later. It's the same for us as well. When we are trying to live in service unto God, it is not our own strength that we need. No, it is not; but rather, we are to admit our own weaknesses and discover the mercy of the Lord being directed towards us.