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Posts Tagged ‘Peter’

Jesus Christ, savior, practical joker

March 30, 2014 Leave a comment

I am very convinced that, on a few occasions, the disciples yelled, “Jesus!”

No, not to take His name in vain, and not to call out to him when in a storm, in quicksand or because they were trying to get his attention. Instead, here are two examples:

Peter, at a wedding, takes a drink of wine–only to discover that it’s turned back into water.

Matthew, when looking for a lamb to slaughter for a meal for Jesus and the 12, stares in shock as the lamb says in perfect Aramaic: “PLEASE don’t eat me. I taste BAAAAAAAD!”

In both cases, the reaction was likely: “Jesus! Would you PLEASE stop doing that?!”

In both cases, I imagine our Lord doubled over, laughing.

Jesus probably also told His fair share of jokes. (“So the Rabbi tells the rest of the Sanhedrin, ‘That was no Samaritan woman! That was my WIFE!'”)

I see it this way: Jesus had a very busy schedule. There were no planes or cars, so He walked most places–save for riding on donkeys or other animals. He probably got very little sleep and had days where he had to: teach, teach and re-teach the disciples; deal with the Pharisees and other religious leaders who refused to see the obvious about Him; heal the sick, provide food for those needed; screen potential disciples; comfort the heartbroken, and on, and on, and on.

What better way to boost morale among His disciples and relieve stress by having a sense of humor?

Post comments here or e-mail them to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Acts 11-12: The church grows, then endures persecution

August 4, 2010 Leave a comment

Reading through these chapters really is a reminder of how much Peter has developed as a Christian. At the end of John, he had returned to his trade as a fisherman, defeated, only to have Jesus speak with him and empower him to return to the ministry. In Acts, Peter seems a man on fire for God. Not bad for an impulsive, act/speak-first-think-second man.

When Peter returned from Caesarea, he dealt with the apostles and other brothers and sisters in Christ who did not understand why he would meet with a Gentile. Knowing they would want to know why Peter spent time among the “uncircumcised” (non-Jewish people), he rehearsed what he would say.

He then explained his vision and how he presented the Gospel. In verse 17, he asked: “Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?”

In other words: If God is willing to receive and save them, who was I to refuse God?

They began to understand what God tried to explain centuries ago to a stubborn prophet named Jonah: God wants all the world to come to Him, not just the Jewish people. Then, they started spreading out and preaching the Gospel to non-Jewish places.

During this time, Barnabas, a man known as an encourager, sought out Saul (who, again, soon would be known as Paul) and brought the new apostle to Antioch. And, in verse 26, we learn this group of believers first were called “Christians” in Antioch. Whether a term best used to describe them or a term of contempt, I don’t know.

Finally in this chapter, Agabus received word form the Holy Spirit there would be a “great dearth” to take place in the days of Claudius Ceasar. The disciples then, according to their own abilities, sent relief unto their brethren who were in Judea.

I suppose this was all bad news for King Herod, who then decided to persecute the church. What Herod didn’t seem to understand, and what the Romans would rapidly learn, is that if you want to make the Christian church go away, persecuting it is not what you want to do.

James was killed (apparently not the same James who wrote the Book of James), and then Herod imprisoned Peter. This, according to verse 3, “pleased” the Jews who undoubtedly saw this Christianity as a threat to their monopoly on religious control.

The church prayed for Pete as he was in prison and guarded by soldiers and bound with chains. The angel of the Lord came and with all the bright light, also served as a primitive alarm clock by “smiting” Peter to wake him. Pete’s chains fell off.

Naturally, Peter–having just waked up–didn’t know if this was real or some strange elaborate dream. He soon realized it had really happened and then had to convince others that he was indeed really out of prison, released on divine probation.

Herod, as you can expect, wasn’t happy Peter had escaped and promptly had the prison keepers executed.

The king then made a speech to the folks of Tyre and Sidon that was probably designed to fortify relations. Verse 20 said they desired peace with Herod for this key reason: “…Because their country was nourished by the king’s country.” Herod probably reminded them of that frequently as he spoke.

Dressed in royal apparel (some commentaries say he wore a robe of shimmering silver), he delivered a speech to them. The folks were very pleased with this and concluded Herod must’ve been a god and not a man.

Herod’s ego probably made him in no hurry to correct them (assuming he would have, which, frankly, is doubtful). And he was then smote by the angel of the Lord for not deflecting that praise and giving honor where honor was due. The text said he was “eaten of worms” and suggests he died a very excruciating death.

And as this happened, God’s word spread and multiplied as Paul and Barnabas continued in their ministry.

Richard Zowie is a Christian writer. Post comments here or drop a line to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Acts 10: Visions, Peter preaches to Gentiles, Richard inadvertently speaks fluent Finnish

This chapter in Acts really must make one re-think their Christianity for the good. It reminds me a little of Bruce Lee’s teaching of Jeet Kune Do which states, among many things, be flexible like water, discard what is not useful and be open to new things.

This chapter begins with a vision of Cornelius, a righteous Roman centurion (I do not know if he was the same one who said “Surely he was the son of god/Surely he was a righteous man” about Jesus on the cross). The passage says Connie (which I’ll call him for short) was devout, feared God and was generous with his donations and constantly prayed to God.

He saw a vision where an angel commanded him to send for Peter, and that Peter would tell him what next he needed to do with his life.

So, Connie sent for Peter who, while hungry and praying, received his own vision.

Pete saw a vessel coming down from heaven and on it was a spread of all kinds of unclean foods to eat. We suppose it contained pork, fish without scales (such as catfish, which I don’t care for), lobster and perhaps even a cheeseburger (Jews were instructed to not mix meat with dairy).

“God, you must be kidding!” Peter no doubt said. “This stuff is forbidden! I will not eateth it!”

This apparently happened three times (no doubt, a reference to the final chapter in John where Pete is asked thrice by Jesus if he [Peter] loves Jesus).

Pete was assured, yes, it was unclean, but God has cleansed, so shut your mouth (as far as arguing), open your mouth (for eating) and dig in.

Peter then learned three men sought him and that it was ok to go with them. They told him of Cornelius, the righteous centurion who was well respected among all the Jews, and how Connie wanted to hear Peter preach.

Peter left Joppa and went to Caesarea and, in his first order of business upon seeing Connie fall down to worship him, told Connie not to worship him since he (Peter) was just a man like him.

Peter told them how in Jewish law it was forbidden for Jews to have company with Gentiles, but that just as God had showed him it was acceptable to eat “unclean” food that had been purified, he was not to call any man common or unclean.

In other words, the Gospel is for everybody.

Pete then preached and in verse 34 announced that God is “no respecter of persons”, meaning that God is impartial and does not value people more because of their intellect, status or wealth. Instead, He accepts those who honor him and “[work] righteousness.” Peter then discusses Jesus’ earthly ministry, how He taught, preached, healed, died on the cross, arose from the dead and established the Great Commission.

Those there who were Jews who accepted Christ as their savior at that meeting, verse 45 tells us, were astonished by how many Gentiles came to accept Christ also. They began speaking in tongues, which I interpret to mean this: Peter’s words were understandable to those different nationalities there, and now those different nationalities could be understood by other nationalities also. The new Christians could converse with each other even though they did not speak the same language.

It would be like me, a native English speaker who speaks some Spanish, Russian and Mandarin Chinese, speaking with a Finnish gentleman named Markku Kaikkonen

Finland, where Markku hails from

and having this conversation:

Richard: Isn’t this great?!

Markku Kaikkonen: Yes, indeed it is!

R: I’m Richard, by the way. I’m from America. I grew up in Texas but now live in Michigan.

Mr. K: I’m Markku Kaikkonen, from Helsinki, Finland. It’s a privilege to meet you.

R: Likewise. Wow! You speak great English, Markku! I apologize for not knowing how to speak Finnish.

MK: Huh? I’m speaking Finnish!

R: How could you be speaking Finnish? I don’t speak Finnish and I can understand you just fine. You sound like you’re speaking English.

MK: I’m speaking Finnish, and so are you. In fact, I was just about to compliment you. I don’t encounter many Americans who can speak Finnish.

No, I’ve never seen this book, much less used it.

The new believers were then baptized and added to the church. Not surprisingly, they asked Pete to remain with them for a while. Perhaps to learn some Finnish.

Richard Zowie is a Christian writer, true to the above hypothetical conversation, really does not speak or understand Finnish. He does know that the Finns call their country “Suomi” instead of “Finland”. Post comments here or drop a line to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Acts 9:23-43: Saul, Peter and Tabitha, a.k.a., Dorcas

March 31, 2010 1 comment

I read this passage yesterday and found it to be interesting to get in some more first-century Christian history. When it comes to reading the Bible and blogging, I prefer to read the entire passage first and then take notes on what I read. It works so far and I hope the readers like that. I also try to mix in what I was doing at the time so that it doesn’t read as a cure-for-insomnia exegesis.

Saul: “Hey! I’m a Christian! Honest! No kidding! No more persecuting Christians! I even now wear a W.W.J.D.? bracelet!”

Saul, soon to be known as Paul, the Apostle Formerly Known as Saul, had quite the transformation. Earlier in this chapter he was on his way to Damascus to continue persecuting Christians. Now, he had to be rescued from some angry Jews who wanted to kill him. Before they got to him, disciples came by night, lowered him down the wall from his room in a basket and transported him to Jerusalem.

Despite rescuing Saul (who, again, will soon become Paul), the other disciples were still very reluctant to accept Saul as a fellow Christian. It reminds me a little of the mass reluctance among many Christians when shock rocker Alice Cooper announced he’d become a Christian.

If ever Alice Cooper were to record a new song, it would probably be titled, “No More Mr. Unsaved Guy!”

It seemed so unfathomable that a man known for his outrageous performances would actually be a fellow believer in Jesus.

Seeing the concern, Barnabas vouched for Saul to the disciples and convinced them to give him a chance to prove themselves. They did, no doubt some worried that Saul was a double agent. If only he’d had with him a Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye signed copy of Left Behind, or perhaps if he’d had a W.W.J.D.? bracelet.

We read that Saul was sent to churches in Caesarea, Tarsus (his hometown), Judaea, Galilee, Samaria and that many people were saved and edified.

Peter continued fishing, healing

It’s hard to believe that, at the end of the Gospel According to John, Peter was found to be a defeated disciple with a heavy Galilean accent (which would probably make him sound like the Jewish equivalent of redneck). In this chapter, we see him preaching, teaching and healing. Specifically, healing.

First, a gentleman named Aeneas who’d been bedridden with palsy for eight years. God used this healing to bring people to him in Lydda and Saron.

Peter then wowed people at Joppa through his miracle performed on a disciple named Tabitha, also named Dorcas. Verse 36 described her as a woman “full of good works and almsdeeds which she did.” Unfortunately, she became sick and died and was apparently prepared for burial and placed in an upper chamber.

With people weeping, Peter came and kneeled down and prayed and commanded Tabitha to rise. She opened her eyes, saw him and sat up.

Tabitha’s return from the dead was no doubt the talk of the day in Joppa as people probably texted, blogged and read newspaper accounts about it. Verse 42 tells us many believed in the Lord.

Peter then stayed in Joppa a while with a tanner named Simon. It really is amazing to see what the Lord accomplished through Peter, and it never ceases to amaze me how God chooses to work with seemingly-humble, lowly people instead of relying on the well-educated, upper crust.

Richard Zowie is currently blogging his way through the Bible and has no idea how long it’ll take. He hopes to have it done within two years. Post comments here or e-mail him at richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Acts 5:17-42: Obeying God versus obeying man

February 10, 2010 Leave a comment

This is a good chapter to read when you feel depressed as a Christian and think the world is being unfair. Things were very rough for the first-century church as they were often beaten and persecuted and even tortured for their faith. Perhaps the day will come when this becomes standard operating procedure for us in America. Meanwhile, fellow American Christians, be thankful you live in a free country.

For some people, God is a humorless person not unlike those unsmiling portraits you see of Johann Sebastian Bach

 

(Seen here suffering from musician’s block)

or of Andrew Johnson

(After having been told that his predecessor, Abraham Lincoln, and not him would be featured in the future $5 bill)

But, honestly, God has quite the sense of humor. After all, in this segment of Acts chapter five the officials imprison the Apostles for preaching and go to the jail the next day and see–GASP!–they’re gone! An angel, we learn, bailed out the Apostles but apparently forgot to file the proper exit paperwork so that the officials knew about it. And what’s even funnier is where the officials discover the Apostles: back in the Temple, preaching.

To me, the humor in this chapter’s right up there with Balaam’s donkey speaking to him and Balaam in Numbers 22 being so angry he doesn’t seem too startled by that. (For me, a donkey speaking in King James English is very hysterical).

“Guys,” the authorities said, “We told you specifically NOT to preach about Jesus and to quit telling people that we killed an innocent man. This doth get very oldeth. Don’t y’alleth agree?”

Then, in verse 29, Peter and the other Apostles respond with what’s become a rallying cry for many Christians through the centuries: “We ought to obey God rather than men.”

There are laws that must be obeyed, so long as they don’t conflict with Scripture. Being told not to preach clearly conflicts with the Great Commission.

Finally, in verse 34 we read of how the authorities convened and heeded the advice of a well-respected “doctor of the law” named Gamaliel, a Pharisee. Gee cautions the authorities to be careful, citing examples of Theudas and Judas and how they were killed for their radical teachings, and how their followers were dispersed.

Gamaliel advises in verse 38 for the Apostles to be left alone. “If their preaching is of man, it will eventually fade away,” he said. “But if it’s from God, you’re wasting your time trying to crush it, and you’d be fighting against God.”

With that, the officials beat the disciples and told them in no uncertain terms: DO NOT PREACH ABOUT JESUS!

The Apostles left, thankful to suffer persecution for Jesus, but also continuing in the Temple and in every house they were in to preach of Jesus.

Gamaliel’s advice reminds me of the fruitless attempts by the Romans and, in the past 100 years, the many attempts by communist governments to crush the Christian church. Those attempts have failed, because the Christian church is of God.

Richard Zowie finds it hard to believe that in October 2011 he’ll have been a Christian for 30 years. He has three other WordPress blogs and has been a writer since 2000. Post comments here or e-mail him at richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Acts 5:1-10: Trying to fool God

February 4, 2010 Leave a comment

After some thought, I decided to break up Acts 5 into two blog postings. The first 10 verses talk of Ananias and Sapphira’s donation to the apostles while the rest of the chapter talks about the persecution Peter and the others endure for preaching the Gospel and reminding the Jewish authorities of how they conspired to have Jesus crucified.

(NOTE: Please keep in mind that reminding the authorities of this was probably done only as a way of trying to get them to understand the Gospel. Jesus made it very clear in the Gospels that His death on the cross was necessary to pay for mankind’s sins. He willingly gave His own life).

With that, let’s talk about verses 1-10.

This passage has been widely misinterpreted. Some say that Ananias and Sapphira were struck down by God for being tightwads and withholding from God for the total amount of money they received from land they’d sold. Not true. God’s discipline came because they said the money they gave was the total amount even when it wasn’t.

Let’s say they sold five acres of land for 100 shekels of gold. They chose to keep 50 shekels of gold for themselves while giving 50 to the church. But they then tell the church that 50 shekels was all they received for the land.

Honestly, if they’d just said, “We sold the land for 100 shekels of gold but wanted to keep 50 shekels and give you 50 shekels,” I don’t think Peter and the others (God included) would’ve had a problem with it. But Ananias and Sapphire probably looked at all the people selling items and giving it all to the church and didn’t want to humiliate themselves by admitting they’d kept some of the money.

So, Ananias was struck down by God and Sapphira was also when her story matched her husband’s.

Was this the work of an angry, brutal God? No, I see it as the work of a God who wanted to ensure that dishonesty and corruption didn’t become standard fare in the early church.

Richard Zowie has been a Christian since 1981 and has been a professional writer since 2000. Post comments here or e-mail him at richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Acts 4: Peter, John told to not preach; Yeah, RIGHT

February 2, 2010 Leave a comment

I read this passage this morning while trying to recover from a headache, but still, there were some very fascinating things to learn about Acts 4: the early church in action and how it grows.

At this stage of this blog and my Bible reading, I’m trying to decide: should I read five chapters of the Bible a day and blog about two of them or just read what I’ll blog about? I’m thinking I’ll do the latter. Years ago, I knew a man who had a challenge for himself of reading the Bible all the way through in a month. Well, if you’re the kind who reads quickly and comprehensively and has an hour or two set aside, sure. If I could do that, I’d have to allot another two hours to write about what I read. For now, since I’m getting back into daily Bible reading after an embarrassingly-long hiatus, I prefer to read a little at a time. We’ll see what happens.

I took a lot of notes as I read Acts 4 since it’s a chapter I haven’t read in a while. In fact, the last time I read through the book of Acts was when I was at college around 14 years ago. Way too long.

As expected, those in the Temple were not very happy with Peter and John preaching about Jesus in the Temple. Especially since we learn that 2,000 more people came to know the Lord as a result. After all, wasn’t Jesus (or Y’shua bin Yosef, as the Jewish authorities preferred to call him) already taken care of? He was crucified and buried and his body (according to them) stolen. They’d hoped to move on with their lives.

They asked P&J what power they had to heal the lame man, and Peter said the power came from Jesus, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. Referencing Psalm 118 and Isaiah 28, Peter referred to Jesus as the corner stone.

Peter’s words astonished the authorities: how can uneducated, unlearned men be so bold?

After a consultation where they realize they couldn’t explain away the miracle, they ordered Peter and John not to tell anyone of this incident.

Yeah, riiiiiiiiiiiiight.

Then Peter said something in verse 19 that I really, really like: Do you think God wants us to obey Him or you? We can’t not speak of it!

We then learn Peter and John were released since they did nothing punishable–apparently, getting on someone’s nerves wasn’t a punishable offense under Mosaic Law or Roman Law. We also learn why this lame man was so happy. He was over 40 years old and could now walk!

Later, Peter and John met with the other disciples and prayed to God and asked for boldness and the continued ability to heal. The place was shaken, and they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Prayer answered.

Finally, verses 32-37 talk about the continued giving as the early believers shared things in common. Houses and land were sold and the money was used to help out the less fortunate believer. It was distributed evenly.

No, this wasn’t socialism: in socialism, the government in its finite wisdom takes money from people it perceives as having too much and gives it to whom it perceives to be needy. This was people willingly giving of their own money in general generosity among believers. Lastly, we learn that Barnabas even sold his land and gave the money to the disciples.

This is what I like to refer to as “True Christianity”. I’ll have to link to some old columns of mine about this matter.

Richard Zowie’s an active blogger with three other WordPress accounts. Post a comment or e-mail him at richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.