After the same ‘Series’ introduction, we have the Episode 7 introductions:
“Peter is what I would call the ‘ride or die’ disciple. Jesus came into his life and changed it forever.” – (Reverend Dr. Otis Moss III)
We see Jesus, speaking to Peter in front of a group of followers: “I tell you, you are now Peter, the Rock. On this Rock I will build my church.”
“Peter really believed that he was going to be the faithful disciple, but that’s not what happens.”- (Nicola Denzey Lewis, Religion Professor, Claremont)
“It’s a story of redemption. Peter becomes the foundation stone on which Christianity is established.” – (Assoc. Prof. Robert Cargill, University of Iowa)
The opening scene has Peter walking away from a lake (Sea of Galilee?) sharing his story. (After having denounced Jesus and been forgiven?)
“My name is Peter and I have been given a second chance to deliver the message of Jesus. This time I won’t let him down.”
Flashback to Mary Magdalene telling Jesus’ followers she has seen the Lord. Peter is angry at Mary for ‘disrespecting’ them with her ravings. He was afraid she was telling the truth and he would have to look the Lord in the eye knowing he had failed him.
Flashback to months earlier, by the Sea of Galilee.
In the gospels Peter is the first disciple called by Jesus. (Adam Marshak, History Teacher)
Jesus reached out to Peter, perhaps because he was fisherman and Jesus knew these were hard working people. The understand what it means to be hungry, what it means to struggle, what it means to work hard.” (Pastor Susan Sparks)
Some background: In Galilee it would have been incredibly hard. People are one boat ride away from starvation. Everything they catch is going to be taxed by Rome, and local tax collectors would take something for themselves. (Rev Otis Moss III)
We see the calling of the rest of the disciples. They’ve been fishing all night and Jesus tells them to go t deep water and let down their nets. Peter is hesitant but goes anyway. The huge catch of fish. Peter is humbled and Jesus tells him not to be afraid and from then on he would be catching people.
A commentator tells us Peter would have known what Jesus meant by ‘fishers of men’, but then we see Peter walking along and wondering what Jesus meant. (????). But he also knew he would always be Jesus’ devoted follower.
Some people think Jesus was like a Marine recruiter looking for a few good men but he was just looking for men who would be willing. (Ben Witherington)
Peter seems to have been looking for something, or at least Peter was really ready to learn, when Jesus called him. (FR Martin) (speculation)
Peter is drawn to Jesus’ teaching, but he might have been a problem student for Jesus because he asked so many questions. But Jesus saw a spark of passion in Peter, which was what he was looking for in his disciples.
One day, Jesus and the disciples are walking along discussing what some are saying about the identity of Jesus. Jesus asks Peter, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter answers, “You’re the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And of course, Jesus’ reply to Peter:
“I tell you, you are now Peter, the Rock. On this Rock I will build my church.”
We are told that this has tremendous significance because Peter will become the foundation stone of the Christian Movement. (Dr Cargill) (Roman Catholicism, anyone?)
Nest we see a scene from a previous episode where Jesus and the disciples are escaping through the city streets after Jesus had cause some trouble. Peter narrates:
“I wasn’t just Simon of Galilee anymore, I was Peter, the Rock. Over the coming I was right there by his side. People laughed, spat in his face. I shielded him when they threw punches and threw stones. And I was there when they started to listen. So when he told me we would enter Jerusalem once more I was worried.”
Jesus was a surprising choice to head the movement, being just a fisherman. He wasn’t educated, spoke only Aramaic. But Jesus’ concern was to pick someone who has the character and the deep courage to be a follower of Jesus even if it could cost one their life. (Ben Witherington)
After commercial we are taken to the triumphal entrance into Jerusalem, with commentary of course.
“Jesus’ message is dangerous, but for Jesus, Jerusalem is the only place he could possibly go. It’s not only the political, it’s also the religious center of Jewish life.” (Adam Marshak, Fordham University)
“The symbolism of Jesus riding a donkey into Jerusalem should not be lost. This isn’t just a guy taking a ride on a donkey. This is a reenactment of the Jewish coronation of the King of Israel. Peter’s vision of a Messiah is someone who is going to help overthrow foreign rule, in this case Roman rule, and establish a Jewish kingdom (Dr. Robert Cargill)
“I think even Peter, at that point, could see the threat and danger that Jesus was generating. (Pastor Susan Sparks)
NOTE: We continue to see scenes also used in previous episodes this was done a lot, since the same scenes are discussed from the various character’s viewpoints.
Continuing in the Jerusalem scene we wear Peter, “He’s everything we’ve been waiting for. The fulfillment of divine destiny, the start of a glorious new kingdom. But how quickly that all changed.”
On to the Last Supper.
“The last supper rolls around and Peter does not have the exuberance that he had before. There is a slow and impending wait that is upon him and the other disciples.” (Rev Otis Moss)
We see Jesus washing Peter’s feet.
“Peter is horrified at the idea of Jesus washing their feet because he is their leader and this is something a slave would do.” FR Martin)
“When Jesus is washing the disciples’ feet, he’s saying that he’s not come as sort of a royal military king, but as a suffering figure, and he’s acting that role of servant with his disciples.” (Mark Goodacre, Duke University)
“This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in memory of me. . . . This is the blood of my covenant, which is poured out for many.” – Jesus (Same omission of ‘for the remission of sins.’)
“The last supper becomes the origin of the Eucharist, or Holy Communion, for Christians. (Dr. Cargill)
“Hearing the Messiah speaking about death, and having already witnessed his power, Peter is confused. How is this possible and how is this a revolution? Peter doesn’t quite get it. (Rev. Otis Moss)
“I don’t think Peter expected Jesus to be a Messiah who would start a movement so powerful it would get him killed. I think he expected Jesus to raise up the oppressed, but to push it to the point where the Roman government was so threatened by him that he had to be crucified? I don’t think he saw that coming.” (Pastor Susan Sparks)
Jesus tells Peter “I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail you.”, predicting Peter’s denial. Peter objects.
We are taken to the Garden. Jesus goes to pray and Peter follows him. Peter narrates, “Jesus is restless, I was worried. His words had disturbed me and I knew that our arrival in Jerusalem would alert the authorities, but he was insistent. (No gospel records anything about anyone following Jesus in the Garden, only that Jesus went there with Peter, James, and John and asked them to keep watch and pray while he separated himself from them and later scolds them.)
They come to arrest Jesus, Peter cuts of Malchus’ ear and Jesus heals him. Peter is surprised that Jesus healed Malchus instead of fighting!
We head back to Jerusalem and witness Peter’s three betrayals, with a lot dialogue and dramatic commentary.
Peter and the disciples go into hiding. We see Peter filled with self-doubt and loathing, but we are told by one commentator, “I think we should be incredibly sympathetic toward Peter and his denial. Yes, he denied Jesus, but he did it because he was profoundly scared. I think that this denial is one of those moments that comes out as really really human. All of us can relate to a time when we fell short because we were scared, and this is Peter’s moment.” (Adam Marshak)
During the carrying of the cross through the streets of Jerusalem, Peter and the disciples are waiting in hiding, where they remain throughout the crucifixion.
After several days, Mary Magdalene is the first person to see the risen Lord and reports to the disciple that he has risen. Peter scolds Mary because he doesn’t believe her. (Couldn’t find that in the gospels?)
Peter goes to the tomb by himself to investigate and sees the guards at the tomb. (Also not accurate?)
Jesus appears to his disciples and followers where they are hiding, confirming his identity to them.
“When Peter saw the risen Jesus, he knew he was seeing something unprecedented. This was not a hallucination or some spiritual ghostlike being. This was a transformed, glorified body that could be touched, but also could enter locked rooms. Peter must have been in utter awe.” (Michael Peppard)
“There is nothing more important in Christianity than the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus defeats death, so he defeats sin, and his being raised to new life is about the promise to Christians that they too will be raised on the last day. (Mark Goodacre) (Excellent comment!)
Peter, feeling that he had lost his last chance for forgiveness went back to Galilee, to his life as a fisherman. He knew he had failed. What else could he do? He discovers he could not just go back to being a fisherman. He thinks it’s all over, and also reflects upon all that has happened. He is still struggling with having denied Jesus. He needs to find forgiveness. (perfectly reasonable sentiments).
One day, while Peter is fishing, he sees Jesus. He knows that Jesus had come for him, Peter. His mental chains had come loose!
Jesus reinstates Peter by questioning him:
“When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15-17)
“And with those statements; ‘Feed my lambs’, ‘Tend my sheep.”, “Feed my sheep.”, a threefold re-commissioning, just as there had been a threefold denial, and Peter is restored to being the leader of disciples.” (Ben Witherington)
“From that moment I knew I would be able to do whatever Jesus commanded of me. I’d been given a second chance” – Peter
“Jesus’ great commission is sort of a ‘Big Bang’ moment for Christianity, because it’s the moment where it takes off. Jesus s telling his disciples that they need to spread the word.” (Nicola Denzey Lewis)
The disciples are gathered on the shore and Jesus commissions them to make disciples of all nations.
“This is the first missionary movement in religious history. This is the first time anybody says go out and recruit people in mass.” (Dr Cargill)
Peter tells us:
“I knew Jesus as my teacher, my friend, and as the Son of God. Because of him I am restored. I have regained my purpose.”
“We see Peter a transformed man. He has finally gotten it. He comes out renewed, more confident, ready to go forward, and in fact, he does go forward.” (Nicola Denzey Lewis)
“Peter understood his task was to reclaim various people for the following of Jesus, and to go throughout the Empire to do this.” (Ben Witherington)
“Christianity spreads rapidly throughout the Roman Empire. In less than a decade after the death of Jesus there were probably 10,000 Christians. 200 years after Jesus’ death there might be close to a million Christians. And 300 years after the death of Jesus, the Roman Emperor himself, Constantine converts to Christianity.” (Dr. Cargill)
Cue aerial shot of the Vatican, and the explanation of how Peter goes to Rome and becomes the first Pope. “Is it historical?”, asks Nicola Denzey Lewis. She talks about Jesus’ words to Peter inscribed in the Vatican. And when we read Paul’s letter to the Romans and you don’t find Peter (Ben Witherington).
We Gain see Jesus speaking those famous words to Peter:
“I tell you, you are now Peter, the Rock. On this Rock I will build my church.”
“Peter’s story ends, according to tradition, with him being crucified in Rome, upside down, because he insists he’s not worthy to be crucified the same way as his Lord.” (Mar Goodacre)
“Peter’s story is, in a sense, all of our stories. We make mistakes, we have flaws and weaknesses. But like Peter, we can receive forgiveness and get back up again.” (Pastor Joel, of course! After all, he was the main producer of the series.)
The final scene has Peter walking briskly across rocky ground and saying,
“I am Peter, the Rock, and I will go forth and build His church!”
Dan’s final thoughts:
This post might seem a bit long, but I wanted to be meticulous and accurately describe both the film and commentary, including the names of the commentators, which was a chore in itself, so
As with the previous episodes, this one was filled with the ‘thoughts’ of the main character (Peter). And again, some of those thoughts were reasonable while others are just the musings of various leaders in the church and academia. In all honesty, we are never told in the new Testament how any of the series characters were feeling and thinking.
I thought it interesting that mention was made about the historicity of Peter as the first Pope. After all, quite a few of the commentators were either Roman Catholic or connected to Roman Catholic institutions. A little ‘political correctness’? Who knows?
We do have an excellent comment by Mark Goodacre:
“There is nothing more important in Christianity than the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus defeats death, so he defeats sin, and his being raised to new life is about the promise to Christians that they too will be raised on the last day.”
I’ll try and have some summary observations up soon.
And in case you might like them, Here are the links to all 8 reviews:
Jesus, His Life, Episode 1: Joseph: the Nativity – Pastor Gabe Hughes