A Sinful Man 06: Devils Among Us

Peter.1A Sinful Man #6

A Study in Jesus dealings with Simon, brother of Andrew, who became the Apostle Peter.

Matthew 14:24-36

John 6:22-71

After Jesus and Peter were safely in the boat, the rough weather stopped. The rest of the Apostles trip to the “other side” was uneventful. Until they exited the boat at Gennesaret, a small plain on the west side of the Sea of Galilee. The people who lived in the villages and cities in the plain recognized Jesus and his entourage. News of his arrival traveled faster than on a well-connected Twitter account.

They were soon surrounded by suffering humanity. They carried those who could not walk into Jesus’ presence on beds. The afflicted made a simple request; let us touch the border of your garment. “As many as touched him [Jesus] were made whole.”[1] After ministering to multitudes Jesus and the Apostles walked back to Capernaum on the main road that ran along the shore connecting Capernaum to Tiberias.

Peter and his fellow Apostles returned to Capernaum convinced Jesus is the Son of God. If the miracles of healing had not been enough to convince them, watching Jesus and Peter walk on water did. But that conviction would be sorely challenged in Capernaum.

While Jesus ministered in Gennesaret the people who would have forced Jesus to be their king discovered he had abandoned them. They sailed to Capernaum and eventually found Jesus teaching in the synagogue.

“Rabbi, when did you get here?” they exclaimed.[2]

They were seeking Jesus, but it wasn’t Jesus they wanted. They did not want to know “when” and Jesus knew it. They wanted to know “why” he left when they were willing to embrace him as their king, so Jesus told them why. “[Y]ou, are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.”[3]

Jesus was addressing people who “…live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. They set their mind on earthly things.”[4] They did not care about the miracles that confirmed Jesus spoke the truth.[5] Their religious leaders knew the miracles proved Jesus was a teacher come from God.[6] Instead of repenting for teaching false doctrines that taught people to worship God in vain, they wanted him dead. The would be king makers did not care about learning the truth either. They wanted free bread for life.

Those whose minds are “set on earthly things” missed an important fact. The bread they wanted could not save them from death. They could eat the bread Angels in heaven eat and still die. Their ancestors ate manna from heaven and died.[7] Death robs us of every good thing God wants us to have. Is this all they wanted? Less than 100 hundred years on earth! The man who gave his Apostles power to heal the sick and walk on water could have given these men the power to multiply loaves but that would not have stopped death. During their conversation Jesus repeated four times that the will of God was to raise them up again “at the last day”.[8]

These carnal minded believers were not inclined to wait for the “last day” when God resurrects the dead to inherit the things he promised. They wanted a king to make them the glorious nation God promised today, in their lifetime. Giving them what they wanted would be a travesty of justice and an affront to everyone who died in faith believing God would raise them on the last day. The realization that the fulfillment of God’s promises lay so far in the future they would have to be raised from the dead to receive the promises was a deal breaker. Even worse Jesus talking about the necessity of eating his flesh and drinking his blood foreshadowed his martyrdom not a glorious kingdom of abundance and privilege.

The disappointing realization that they might have to suffer like their ancestors and the prophets who died in faith without receiving the fulfillment of the promises was too much to bear. They were already suffering under Roman rule and heavy taxation. The bittersweet truth was more than they could swallow. “[Many] of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.”[9]

Jesus and the Apostles suddenly had a much smaller congregation. Jesus knew the apostles were also choking on the truth. He gave them no choice but to choke it down or spit it out when he said, “Will you also go away?”

The Bible records one statement in answer to Jesus question. “Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”[10]

The fact that none of the other Apostles responses are recorded, and no one resigned suggest Peter’s answer reflected how all of them felt. Trapped! They were no happier with Jesus teaching of suffering and waiting for the last day than the disciples who abandoned Jesus.

If the Apostles had rejected this teaching, I doubt they could have returned.

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit,  who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance,…

Hebrews 6:4-6, NIV

The Apostles were beyond being babes in Christ still learning the elementary truths of the gospel. For more than a year they had received personal instruction from Jesus. They lived with him, ate with him, traveled with him. He had given them power to heal the sick and cast out devils. They had witnessed his power over nature: the boat sinking catch of fish, the calming of a storm that would have sunk their boat, their bellies filled with the bread he multiplied to feed thousands. Peter had walked on water with Jesus and then all of them had acknowledged Jesus was the Son of God. None of them could have walked away without their conscience haunting them.

Of all the things Peter could have referenced as a reason to believe and stay Peter chose “words”. The “words” Jesus spoke convinced him Jesus was the prophet Moses said would come. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus[11] the rich man begged Abraham to save his five brothers by sending Lazarus back to earth to warn them so they would not end up in torment with him. Abraham declined for two reasons.  First, sending Lazarus back to the land of the living was impossible.  Second, the rich man’s brothers had the written words of Moses and the Prophets. The rich man did not think words were enough. He was sure if someone rose from the dead, his brothers would believe. Abraham assured the rich man he was wrong. Miracles, even someone rising from the dead, will not convince people of the truth. Understanding the writings of Moses and the prophets will keep us from a place of torment because they wrote about Jesus. Peter’s determination to understand the words of the prophets will make him a rock, but it won’t make him perfect.

Peter thought he knew himself and the other Apostles. Jesus let him know that he did not. “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve. Yet one of you is a devil.”[12] In the next verse John explains that Jesus called Judas Iscariot a devil because Judas would betray him. Judas was influenced by the devil, but he is not the only one among the twelve Jesus called a devil. Peter did not walk away like many of the disciples did that day, but he will also reject the will of God, and Jesus will call him Satan. The difference between Judas and Peter was humility. Judas killed himself. Peter repented.


[1] Mark 6:56 “Jesus” inserted not in original text.

[2] John 6:25

[3] John 6:26

[4] Philippians 3:18-19

[5] Acts 2:22

[6] John 3:1

[7] John 6:49

[8] John 6:38-47

[9] John 6:66

[10] John 6:68-69

[11] Luke 16:19-31

[12] John 6:70

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