Jesus Restores: Peter’s Frustration (Part 3)
Jesus is going to the cross and the disciples are going into hiding.
Peter is full of shame for denying Jesus.
We see in John 19 the death of Jesus, and the burial of Jesus. Then in John 20 we see the empty tomb.
There is a comically competitive recording of John and Peter racing to the tomb, in which John records, “Both were running, but the other disciple (this is John’s way of referring to himself) outran Peter and reached the tomb first.” (John 20:4)
This passage alone wouldn’t highlight John’s zeal to exceed Peter, but of course just four verses later John is continuing to highlight that he beat Peter to the tomb by saying, “Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside.” (John 20:8)
The disciples were often jockeying for who would be first, and Jesus was often rebuking them for it. (Mark 9:30-37, 10:35-45)
Who are we to think this competition had ended, if anything maybe there was reason for the contest to continue at an even more competitive rate.
The shame of Peter probably left him feeling that his leadership or authority as the spokesman of the disciples was in jeopardy or maybe even was already taken from him when he called that curse upon himself.
As Peter and John race to the tomb to find it empty, it is likely that Peter is thinking to himself, “Does Jesus even want to see me? Or am I just damaged goods now? Am I just cursed to live a life apart from Him?”
Peter and John found the tomb empty, and went back to be with the other disciples. Interestingly enough the text says the disciples were, “together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders.” (John 20:19)
It is clear that fear is still motivating the disciples decision making.
Then Jesus appears to them, commissions them, and tells them to receive the Holy Spirit. (John 20:19-23)
We are not told what the disciples response was to this appearance. What we do find out is that Thomas was not present for this.
So of course the disciples tell Thomas what happened and he doesn’t believe, this is where we get the phrase ‘Doubting Thomas.’
A week later, Thomas, along with the other disciples are still hiding out because they are afraid of the Jewish leaders.
Keep in mind Jesus did send them last time he was with them. (John 20:21)
Once again, Jesus appears to the disciples, it seems his intent in this meeting is to remove Thomas’ doubt. (John 20:24-29)
We are not really told how Jesus leaves this encounter, the text just transitions after Jesus’ dialogue with Thomas.
What we do receive is this response from Peter, “I’m going out to fish.” (John 21:3)
We cannot with certainty know how Peter said these words, but the more I read the text the more I think he said it like this, “I’M GOING OUT TO FISH.”
With frustration in his voice. Jesus had now appeared two times, and in these two times he didn’t address Peter.
Peter might be wondering, “Does Jesus hate me?” “Could he ever forgive me?” “Does he even consider me as one of his disciples?” “Am I cursed?”
All of these thoughts along with many others were quite possibly floating through the mind of Peter.
And in a moment of frustration he goes backwards. Back to where it all began, in a boat.
Interestingly enough, we see his natural leadership on display, because some of the disciples follow him.
Peter could be thinking, “We need food, so I am going fishing.”
Peter could be thinking, “I am not sure what we are doing hiding in this room, lets at least go do something.”
I am compelled to believe that Peter was thinking, “Enough, I will never overcome the sin of denying Jesus those three times. I might as well just go back to my old life, because there is no longer a place for me here as a disciple of Jesus.”
This is not Peter declaring he didn’t want to be a disciple of Jesus, because I believe he still loved Jesus very much, instead it is Peter feeling unworthy because of his circumstance.
In the next post we will see nets, charcoal, and three questions. Stay tuned.