Monday, May 11, 2020
A Fisherman's Tale (5) - Tell No One
In just a week's time he had been blessed and admonished for his words. He felt embarrassed and small. Privately, he was once again punishing himself for his shameful inability to tame his tongue.
And twice now, Jesus had strictly warned him to speak nothing of the events of the last six days.
On the inside, Peter was glad. He was tired of his brash boasting and the habit to quickly jump in and dominate any conversation.
Also, even though it was hard to describe, Peter was 'unsettled' now around Jesus. He was drawn to Him. Peter was a man with deep thirsts but cursed with a sense of trepidation to drink. Peter was weary and often confused by both the actions and the words of his master.
Earlier in the week, the men had been at Caesarea Philippi. It was easily the most evil village Peter had ever seen. Almost every trail ended at an altar where unspeakable acts of human existence occurred throughout the evenings. Peter never doubted the existence of God, but he had a new faith for the demons of darkness that had revealed themselves in just a few short months.
As the disciples followed a snakelike stream, a large rocky cliff suddenly threw a shadow on the disciples. This was the Temple of Augustus that Herod had built almost two decades ago. Matthew explained to the others that the stream that flowed from the cave was believed to be the gateway to Hades.
They all sat down in the shadows, and Peter stared at each idol. Much energy had been spent on the carvings. One idol had eyes that seemed to follow him as he moved.
Jesus never looked up at them, He just looked quietly at each man. After a few minutes, He began asking questions. He often asked many questions; it was His style. They were provocative and He tended to take many days before answering some of them.
He tossed a small pebble into the pool of water that flowed out of the Gate of Hades. The water had a song of sadness, not even a trickle or hint of warning.
“Who do people say that I am?”
The question was met with silence, so Jesus asked it again. He was wanting an answer.
“Who do people say that I am?”
John rarely spoke first, but he quickly jumped on the question as it echoed a second time.
“Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah" and Peter had heard those conversations as well. He was finally catching on the prophecies of old as they were recited in the synagogues.
Matthew always participated in these debates as well.
"There is also conversations that you are Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
All were totally safe answers, and Peter knew it.
This time Jesus pressed harder. He said it with more authority and His voice now drowned out the sound of the stream.
“But who do you say that I am?”
Peter had heard enough, he had to say it.
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
As soon as Peter finished, Jesus ran and embraced him. The scene was celebratory!
Jesus pulled hard until the two men were touching cheeks. Jesus replied into Peter's ear, but still loud enough for all to hear.
“Blessed are you! Simon! Son of Jonah!"
He then stood beside Peter, facing Peter and the large cliffs of the temple.
"For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven".
The excitement and passion in Christ's voice was infectious! There was a smile and seriousness in His countenance. It was a voice of victory, an exclamation of discovery!
Days later, Peter still was thinking over what Jesus said next. He thought about asking Andrew about it.
Peter was sure it was said exactly like this:
"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."
Jesus definitely looked at the stream as it came forth when He said 'hell', but what did He mean by 'this rock'? Was it Peter himself? Was it his confession? And what did Jesus mean about building His church?
Right after that, Jesus looked at all of them and added, "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.”
John put his hand on Peter's shoulder. Peter was quickly encouraged by his answer.
And then Jesus pulled them all in close.
"You must tell no one that I am the Christ."
It was a bold and robust charge.
A short walk away, the men built a fire and Judas left to buy some food for the evening.
What happened next still haunted Peter. He closed his eyes agin and tried to remember it word by word.
Right after dinner, Jesus began teaching from the prophecies about the Christ. Peter had always loved hearing about the promised deliverer from the line of David.
But Jesus began to point out strange passages. This Christ was much different. This was a suffering Christ, this was a rejected Christ, this was a Christ who was going to be killed by the chief priests and scribes!
The Jesus said the strangest statement of them all.
"And after three days, he will arise again."
Peter had heard enough.... it just blurted out.
Peter grabbed Jesus by the arm and pulled Him away from the glow of the fire.
Peter's frustration boiled over. He was tired of the mystery, he was tired of the questions, and he did something he had never done before.... He began to rebuke the teachings of his master!
Jesus immediately snatched his arm away from Peter. The jerk was so forceful that Peter stumbled! The disciples were beside themselves.
With the most authority the men had ever heard, Jesus rebuked the rebuker!
“Get behind me, Satan!"
The words were shocking. The fire sparked and roared in the pronouncement.
"You are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
For five full days, no one said much after that and Peter kept his distance. The chastisement still stung him and he had said very little in the days that followed.
The echo even reverberated in his dreams..... :"Get behind me, Satan!"
Peter was at the lowest moment since he began walking with Jesus.
Am I the rock to defeat Hades... or am I the devil himself?
The next morning, Jesus looked back at Mount Hermon.
He stood up and called out to James, John, and Peter.
"We must go," and he nodded toward the summit. He told the others to wait.
"Wait here until we return."
And the four men climbed. Jesus never slowed down and Peter felt at some point, James and John would be left behind.
Jesus led them to a plateau as the sun was setting where He knelt down and began to pray. The disciples were used to this and knew they were in for a very long night.
Peter, James, and John began to break camp, but were too tired to build a fire. Peter sat back against a tree, pulled his coverings around him, tangibly feeling the fatigue that was taking root in the ground.
What happened next was impossible to describe.
The three disciples tried to piece it together as best they could over the next few days.
Jesus changed right before their eyes!
Light struck Peter in the face as he was jolted awake in a panic!
James and John fell on their faces while Peter shielded his eyes.
The clothes that Jesus was wearing began to glow solid white. The streaks of light radiated from every small opening. It was so intense that Peter had to squint even in the shade of his hand!
Suddenly, four men were six!
It didn't dawn on Peter until later, that he instantly knew who the other two men were. In the radiance of the white light, Jesus was speaking to Moses and Elijah!
Peter's hand was now trembling from shock. He closed his eyes and would only capture a glance. James was sobbing in terror! Later, both James and John confirmed that they knew instantly who the two men were.
And then Peter recognized the old, familiar urge. It is somewhere between a naive confidence and the brashness of a fool. He had to say something!
Everyone in that spot noticed Peter finally stand and everyone's attention turned to the Rock.
“Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
Looking back, it was now easy to understand it.....he did not know what to say, for they were terrified!
As soon as Peter said it, he knew it was a mistake.
The light was suddenly engulfed in a large cloud. There was a radiance and an aroma of life and power!
And the voice that came with it thundered, causing a vibration to the trees and surrounding mountain.
"THIS IS MY BELOVED SON! LISTEN TO HIM."
The sound threw the disciples to the ground and Peter gasped for breath as he fell to the ground.
The only light now was from a partial moon.
Jesus was no longer transfigured and he picked Peter off the ground.
And He said the same phrase for the second time in six days.
"Tell no one about this until the Son of Man has risen from the dead."
Peter closed his eyes again. He wanted to see the memory flash on his inward eye, but it was fading quickly.
He had many more questions than answers.
And he was supposed to keep quiet about all of it.
2 Peter 1:16–18
 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.  For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,”  we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. (ESV)