The apostle born as Simeon or Simon was later in life called Cephas or Peter, both of which mean “rock.”
To me, Peter is an enigma. Most of the time, I see him as weak, dense, unfaithful, and confused, more of a pebble than a rock.
Most believe Peter was one of Jesus’s closest confidants and a great leader in the early church. I don’t!
I have often wondered why Peter was the first disciple chosen by Jesus. What did Jesus see in this simple but rough fisherman who fished with his dad, John, and brother Andrew in the Sea of Galilee (which is really a lake thirteen miles long by eight miles wide)?
At one point in his ministry, Jesus took Peter, James, and John up a mountain for what Biblical history calls the Transfiguration (Luke 9:28–36). Jesus supposedly transformed into the “Son of God” and had a powwow with the long-dead Moses and Elijah. Peter’s reaction was to rush over and offer to build three “dwellings” there on the mountain for Jesus and the dead prophets. Meet Peter the Dense.
How about the story of Jesus walking on water (Matthew 14:22–33), where he beckoned Peter to join him? Peter tried, but “the Rock” sank due to lack of faith. I wonder if Peter ever found faith?
Peter was at his worst when he denied even knowing Jesus at Jesus’s trial before the high priest (Luke 22:54–62). Who needs enemies when one has a friend like Peter?
Where was Peter on that first Easter morning? I suspect he was hiding from the Romans. Jesus’s female followers went to the tomb first. Peter went later, when it seemed safe.
There are too many stories about Peter that are not very complimentary, like in John 21:1–11, where Jesus had to instruct Peter, the fisherman, on how to catch fish.
The book of Acts sings the praises of Peter, who goes from a bumbler to number-one Follower, from the rural region of Galilee to the sophistication of Rome, from fisherman to brilliant tactician, healer, and leader.
Enter Doubting Bil, a distant cousin of Doubting Thomas. Let’s examine the timeline. Jesus was crucified around 33 CE. Don’t forget that Jesus, Paul, Peter, all the Marys, and almost all of the Followers were Jewish and operated within Judaism until sometime in the late first century CE. They had no conception of Christianity, church, bishops, or the pope. The Gospels of Mark and Matthew were written before the Jesus movement and Judaism split.
So, when the institutional church tells me that Peter was the first pope, even though Peter reportedly died in 64 CE, my reaction is, “Yikes! No wonder the church has rigor mortis. Truth doesn’t seem to be in its DNA.”
Methinks “Pope” Peter the Rock is baloney.
I wish Mary of Magdala had been the first pope!
How do you see Peter?
The Denial of Saint Peter by Caravaggio is in the public domain