Church Jesus and Peter: An Inspiration for Us

Jesus and Peter: An Inspiration for Us

by Will Powell, Guest Author

I’m not sure if any of you have seen the film Kingsman? My son was excited to watch it as a family as our foray into Netflix life under lockdown. For those who haven’t seen it, it is a film about a stereotypical “chav” (drop-out) called Eggsy, who hits rock bottom after stealing a car. Finally, he phones a number on a medal. Suddenly, he’s released from prison to be met by Harry Hart. Harry, whose life had been saved by Eggsy’s father years before, is a member of the secret intelligence service “Kingsman,” formed by the British elite who lost their heirs in World War 1. Harry, having known Eggsy’s father, believes in Eggsy and arranges for him to train to become a Kingsman, also.

Keep the film in mind (I wouldn’t recommend the film as family viewing—over the top in many different
ways!) as I’ll make references to it (film’s end spoiler alert!) as we look through Luke 22 together.


Let’s look at Jesus’ relationships with his disciples. He had called them, spent three years with them in ministry, sent them out to spread the message of repentance, before coming to this last week of his life. Jesus has clearly prepared meticulously for this last evening with his disciples. He uses other relationships he has forged to prepare the room for the Passover meal. And Luke lets on to us that Jesus “has eagerly desired to eat this Passover” with his disciples “before I suffer,” v15. We catch a glimpse of the intimacy God seeks with us through the desire Jesus has to be with his own disciples.

In this intimate atmosphere, and after Jesus institutes for us what we now call Communion, he reveals he will be betrayed. A dispute arises between the disciples. They were jostling for the best position to be the greatest, presumably in the kingdom of heaven Jesus had so often spoken of. Jesus corrects their ambition and their pride: Who is sitting at the table, and who is serving those at the table? It is Jesus. He is the example, and he is the ruler in this new kingdom. And now comes a rare moment: we see a huge compliment from Jesus to his disciples: “You are those who have stood by me in my trial,” v28. Here Jesus explains the reason they have an inheritance in his kingdom is because they have remained faithful to him.

And then, Jesus turns to Peter. He knows Peter well—Peter’s ambitions and his hopes for the future, but he also knows his weaknesses. As he looks at him, he says: “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Jesus reveals something of the spiritual battle for Peter. And Jesus has put his weight behind Peter. Notice that phrase: “that your faith may not fail.” Given Peter’s response, he was confident, perhaps over-confident, he would not leave Jesus. But Jesus corrects him, predicting Peter’s threefold denial before the cock crows.

So what can we take from this passage for us?


  • the kingdom is promised to the faithful
  • your position in that kingdom should be defined by Jesus’ example
  • Jesus knows how weak our faith is
  • Jesus is praying for us in that weakness


As Jesus is arrested, Luke records the rather chaotic scene for us. Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss—sealing his intention to force Jesus out into the open. Peter, as we learn from John’s Gospel, is the one to strike the high priest’s servant and cut off his ear. But Jesus, seeing violence erupting quickly calms the situation. He counters their menacing attitude by clearly explaining they could have taken him at any time when he was in the temple courts. But their preference is to do such things at night—under cover of darkness.

Despite Peter’s brash reaction during Jesus’ arrest, he knows he can’t start a fight. It’s not in Jesus’ plan. So he follows him. Sure enough, when confronted, he does indeed disown Jesus three times, exactly as Jesus said he would.

So what about Jesus prayer? Did it fail? Did Peter’s faith fail because he denied his Lord? It seems that Luke is trying to help us understand that even when we do something as awful as denying we know our Lord—however serious that is—it does not necessarily mean our faith has completely failed. Even though we may feel like a failure.

Peter did not like Jesus’ predictions. He didn’t want to hear of Jesus’ suffering. He wanted to avoid that and took steps within his small realm to try to avoid Jesus’ arrest. Peter did not like Jesus’ prediction that he would deny Jesus either. Perhaps he thought staying physically close to Jesus would show his faith in him. But in that courtyard his reckoning was with those by the fire who recognised him as a Galilean. When he realized what he had done—denying his Lord, the very one he was trying still to follow—he was broken. The fact that Peter weeps bitterly shows just how strong Jesus’ prayer for him is. This reaction is the first step towards Peter’s Redemption.

How does Peter differ from Judas? Neither of them liked the way things were going with Jesus’ rhetoric. Both of them tried somehow to change Jesus’ course. But neither could. The massive difference between them is their acceptance of Jesus’ way and the faith (or lack of it) that if Jesus says “this way,” then it must be the right way.

So what can we take away from Peter (and Judas) from this episode?


  • Sometimes we know what is going to happen, and we don’t like it. But trying to change it is not the right reaction!
  • Our reaction to failure is key for our future (relationship, tasks)
  • Our faith is demonstrated by our actions—even if our words are sometimes inconsistent


In Luke’s Gospel, we see Peter is the second (after Mary, Mary Magdalene and Joanna) to run to the tomb on Easter morning. He wonders what has happened. His faith is perhaps greater than the other apostles, at least, believing the women enough to see for himself what he could not understand. In Luke’s Gospel, we don’t hear of Peter again. But we do remember John’s Gospel—how Jesus came back to Peter, after Peter had returned to fishing as a living. First, the miraculous catch of fish, and then over breakfast Jesus re-instating Peter, for each denial the same task—absolutely consistent with his prayer for Peter we see in Luke’s Gospel.

Peter’s path to renewal lies not only in Jesus prayer—it lies in his ability to face his worst moments. Peter’s fear of failure must have remained with him for the rest of his life. But his assurance of acceptance by Jesus is also with him.

You might remember, if you have watched Kingsman, that Eggsy also experiences a kind of redemption. He is plucked out of prison by Harry—and Harry is perhaps the first person in Eggsy’s life who really believes in him, and gives him a perspective in his life. Eggsy, however, as he couldn’t bring himself to shoot the dog which accompanied him during training, fails in his bid to become a Kingsman. However, when Harry is shot dead, there is a moment where Eggsy needs to decide: does he not care about Harry? What should he do? The film shows how Eggsy finds some kind of salvation by uncovering the betrayal Harry’s boss Arthur has succumbed to, hoping to save his own skin. Of course, it’s a film, so eventually Eggsy wins the day, bringing down the evil plans of Valentine, to kill all on earth except a small elite.

Now, I don’t want to suggest that Arthur is some kind of Judas or that Eggsy is some kind of Peter. Nor that Harry is some kind of Jesus. But there are some parallels in the story! We are attracted by this archetype of salvation—a mystery which I think only God can explain to us. But we do find this archetype again and again in stories which work on us, which show us in fact something of God’s salvation plan.

So what are the messages for us about Peter’s renewal?


  • Jesus, being with us in our moments of failure brings us strength for our future task

And where did God take Peter on his journey?

Peter went on to become the rock of the Church—the foundation of which Jesus is the cornerstone. Jesus knew Peter could become a leader, but he also knew that Peter needed to know how to cope with failure. He needed to have the ambition not to become the greatest in the Kindgom of Heaven, but to serve all. He needed to learn: “**Über den eigenen Schatten springen.” Only then would he be ready for leadership – the leadership Jesus had prepared for him.

Do you need, also, to learn how to “jump over your own shadow”? I know I do. And I know I struggle with the calling to leadership. Each of us in our different roles and realms are, however, called to lead—to show how Jesus wants us to live. And when we want to build our empire, or to take control, there is Jesus reminding us that his way is different, that we will have to serve. And when things get tough, and we think we failed, Jesus is right there with us, praying for us, and giving us strength for the next task ahead.

May God bless you as you seek to serve him.


**”Über den eigenen Schatten springen” –  to “jump over one’s own shadow” — that is, the ability to surmount (transcend) one’s own personal difficulties, sorrows, and losses, retaining all the while a sense of purposefulness about one’s life and goals. Source link: click here.


Photo credit: Will Powell

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