Jesus washes his disciples’ feet

Before the Passover festival began, Jesus knew that it was now the time when he was to leave this world and return to God. He loved the people who had been sent to him and stayed with them to the end.

The Devil put the thought to betray Jesus into the heart of Simon Iscariot’s son Judas before the Passover meal began.

Jesus knew that he had received everything he had from God, that God had sent him, and that he was going to return to God. Therefore, he got up from the table, put his robe aside, and tied a towel around himself. He then put water into a basin and started to wash his disciple’s feet and dry them with the towel that was tied around him

When he got to Simon Peter, he was asked “Lord, why do you want to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied “You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but you will later.”

“You shouldn’t ever be the one to wash my feet!” Peter exclaimed.

“If I don’t wash you, then you have no right to say you are my disciple.” Jesus countered.

“Then wash my hands and head too!” Peter said.

Jesus replied “If you’ve bathed, you only have to wash your feet to become clean. You are clean, but not everyone is.” Jesus said that not everyone was clean because he knew who was going to betray him.

JN 13:1-11

Peter and John go to the tomb

Peter and John ran to the tomb. John outran Peter and got there first. He stooped down to look into the tomb and saw the linen cloths, but he stayed outside. Then Peter arrived and went inside the tomb. He saw the linen cloths for the body along with the linen that was used to wrap Jesus’ head folded up and separate from the rest.

John, who had gotten there first, entered the tomb after Peter and when he saw the linen cloths he believed. At this point they still did not understand the Scripture that said he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned home.

(LK 24:12), JN 20:3-10

Peter denies that he knows Jesus

Meanwhile, Peter and another disciple were following Jesus at a distance. The other disciple was acquainted with the high priest, so he followed Jesus all the way into the high priest’s courtyard. Peter stayed outside by the door, standing by himself. The other disciple spoke to the slave girl who was the doorkeeper and he brought Peter into the courtyard.

The slaves and temple guards lit a charcoal fire in the courtyard below to warm themselves up. Peter was sitting around the fire with them.

When the slave girl who had let him in took at look at him in the firelight, she said “You were with him, that Jesus of Nazareth.”

But Peter denied it, saying “I was not, I don’t know him! I don’t know what you are talking about!” Then he walked closer to the doorway.

A little later, another person saw him and said to those nearby “He’s one of his disciples!”

“I don’t know him!” Peter exclaimed.

About an hour later, a relative of Malchus, the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said “Weren’t you in the garden with him? Your accent is Galilean, so surely you are one of them.”

Then Peter started to curse and make oaths to swear that what he was saying was true, saying “I don’t even know who you are talking about!”

Right then, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed, and Peter remembered that the Lord had said “Truly, you will deny that you know me three times before the rooster crows this very day!”

He went outside and wept bitterly.

MT 26:69-75, MK 14:66-72, LK 22:55-62, JN 18:15-18 and 18:25-27

Peter’s denial predicted

Then Jesus said to them “All of you will falter because of me tonight, because it is written ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep and his flock will be scattered.’ But after I have been resurrected, I will travel ahead of you to Galilee.”

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where you going?” Jesus answered him, “You cannot follow me where I am going right now, but you will go there later.”

Then he added “Simon Simon, be on your guard! Satan has asked to be able to sift all of you like wheat. But I have prayed for you personally that your faith will be strong. I hope that when you have turned back, you will strengthen your brothers.”

Peter said “I will not run away even if everyone else does! Lord, I am ready to follow you to prison and even to death!”

Jesus replied “Will you die for me? Truly, you will deny that you know me three times before the rooster crows this very day!”

Peter told him “Even if I have to lay down my life for you, I will never deny that I know you.”

And all the disciples repeated his words.

MT 26:31-35, MK 14:27-31, LK 22:31-34, JN 13:36-38

Preparing for Passover

The first day of the festival of Unleavened Bread is when the Passover lamb is sacrificed. Jesus called Peter and John to him, saying “Go and prepare the Passover meal for us.” They asked “Where shall we do this?”

He said “A man carrying a water jug will meet you when you go into the city. Follow him into the house he enters. Tell the owner of that house ‘The Teacher says “My time is at hand, so I ask where your guestroom is so that I may celebrate the Passover meal with my disciples.” He will then show you a large furnished room upstairs ready to use. That is where you should prepare for our dinner.”

Peter and John left and found everything exactly as Jesus had told them, and they prepared the Passover meal.

MT 26:17-19, MK 14:12-16, LK 22:7-13

Forgive 70 x 7

Peter went up to Jesus and asked “Teacher, how many times should I forgive someone who sins against me? As many as seven times?”

MT 18:21

“Listen to me closely,” Jesus said. “Don’t forgive him seven times, but seventy times seven! If he offends you seven times in one day, yet comes back to you seven times saying that he repents, you must forgive him.”

MT 18:22, LK 17:3-4

Paying the Temple tax

They came to Capernaum, and the people who collected the double drachma tax for Temple maintenance approached Peter and said “Doesn’t your teacher pay the double drachma tax?”

Peter answered “Yes.”

When he went to the house, Jesus started talking about what had just happened before Peter had a chance to. “What do you think Simon Peter? Do earthly kings collect taxes from their sons or from strangers?”

“From strangers” he answered.

“Then the sons owe nothing. But so we won’t annoy them, do this. Go cast your fishing line into the sea and catch the first fish that comes up. You’ll find a coin in its mouth. Give it to them to pay the tax for me and you.”

MT 17:24-27

Walking on water.

Jesus immediately made his disciples get into the boat and travel ahead of him across the Sea of Galilee, while he sent away the crowd. Jesus went by himself to a mountain to pray. He was there alone when evening came.

From up on the mountain, he was able to see that the boat was in the middle of the sea, far from land. A very windy storm came up and the sea began to get choppy. The boat was being battered by the waves and the disciples were struggling because they were rowing against the wind.

Jesus came walking on the water towards them around three in the morning, and he meant to walk by them. When they saw him they cried out in terror because they thought he was a ghost.

Immediately Jesus spoke to them saying “Have courage! It’s me! Don’t be afraid.”

MT 14:22-27, MK 6:45-50, JN 6:16-20

Peter called out to him, “Lord if it’s really you, command me to come to you.”

“Come!” Jesus said.

Peter climbed out of the boat and started walking on the water towards Jesus. But he became afraid when he saw the size of the waves and the strength of the wind. He began to sink, and he cried out “Lord save me!”
Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught Peter. He was surprised at how little faith Peter had and said “Why did you doubt?”

MT 14:28-31

When they were together on the boat, the wind ceased.

MT 14:32, MK 6:51a

Then everyone there said “You are truly the Son of God!”

MT 14:33

(Yet another Gospel says that)
They were confused and amazed because they had not yet come to understand even the miracle of the loaves. Instead their hearts were hard and they had a hard time believing.

MK 6:51b-52

Living church

Jesus uses the word “church” only twice in all of the Gospels, and both of them are in the Gospel of Matthew. (MT 16:18 and 18:17) This is significant because if Jesus came to build a church in the way we have been taught to think of it, he would have talked about it a lot more often and we would have had references to it in the other Gospels.

In the Gospel of Matthew, he renames his disciple Simon after he declares that Jesus is the Messiah.

– Jesus continued, saying “Your name is now Peter, because you are a rock, and upon you I will build my living church, and the gates of death will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you join together on earth will be joined together in heaven, and whatever you separate on earth will be separated in heaven.” – (MT 16:17-19, Condensed Gospel)

Most translations cite verse 18 like this – “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the forces of Hades will not overpower it.” (HCSB)

I have learned from my studies that the word that is translated as “forces” (or sometimes as “powers”) literally means “gates”, and that Jesus is not indicating Hell (as “Hades” is sometimes translated) with the word “Hades”. Hades isn’t a place, but refers to the “power of death” according to the notes in the Harper Collins Study Bible. This source also refers back to a note on MT 11:23, saying that Hades is the “Greek equivalent to Hebrew Sheol, realm of the departed dead.”

This is why I interpreted that scripture in the manner I did. We’ve read that line over and over and it doesn’t mean anything real to us until we dig further.

Peter, and all of Jesus’ disciples, including you and me, don’t have power over Hell. We have something far greater. We have power over death. Being a disciple of Jesus means that we embrace and affirm life. This isn’t about “coming back from the dead” or simply having eternal life after we die. It is about being fully alive now, and sharing that life with others.

What we are to unbind or loosen on Earth is the same as what the disciples were charged to do elsewhere in the Gospels – to forgive sin, exorcize demons, and to heal the sick. We are to free people from the death of not being fully alive.

Jesus came to build a living church, not one of stones and wood. He came to free us, right now, from the death that is not being fully alive. This isn’t about the future. It is about the present.

He came to let us know that all of our sins are forgiven. And then he wants us to go share that good news with others. We aren’t to make new converts so much as bring people back to life by forgiving them in the same way we are forgiven, and re-joining them to the community. We are to include everybody who has been kicked out. We are to seek out the lepers of our time – those people who have been excluded from society. We heal them and bring them back to life by welcoming them.

Peter declares that Jesus is the Messiah

When Jesus and his disciples came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, a town north of the region of Galilee, he asked his disciples privately, “Who are people in the crowds saying I am?” They replied “Some say you are John the Baptist. Others think you are Elijah, and yet others think you are Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”

Jesus faced them and said “But as for you, who do you say I am?” Simon answered him saying “You are the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God!”

MT 16:13-16, MK 8:27-29, LK 9:18-20

Jesus responded “Simon, son of Jonah, God has blessed you with this knowledge because you didn’t learn this from a person but directly from God!” Jesus continued, saying “Your name is now Peter, because you are a rock, and upon you I will build my living church, and the gates of death will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you join together on earth will be joined together in heaven, and whatever you separate on earth will be separated in heaven.”

MT 16:17-19

Then he gave them very strict orders not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.

MT 16:20, MK 8:30, LK 9:21a