Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Satan Myth: Wasn't FEAR Simon Peter's Satan?

Friends,


As I was thinking about the two passages involving Satan and Simon Peter, it occurred to me that the Satan of Simon Peter was FEAR. Here is an attempt to convey my thoughts to you, as effectively as I can.

Simon Peter was fearful man, not a sinful one!


Simon Peter is one of the most interesting characters of the Bible. He had all the making of a commoner. Have you noticed Simon Peter's response to Jesus Christ in one of their initial encounters?

Simon and his friends had a bad day at sea, having caught hardly any fish. Jesus entered his boat and asked him to let down the net into the deep. And while they dragged the net back into the boat, it was filled with a large number of fish so that the net was about to burst and the boat was about to sink. Simon was astonished to the extent that he fell at Jesus' feet and told Him: "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." (Luk 5:1-8) Don't you think his response was almost similar to the response of the people of Gadarenes, after Jesus healed Mr. LEGION of his demon possession?

Of the twelve apostles, it was Simon Peter, who volunteered to walk on water towards Jesus who was approaching the boat, walking on water. After the initial enthusiasm, fear set in as he saw a violent wind approaching and started to sink. (Mat 14:26-31) Had Simon a valid reason to be afraid of? On a previous occasion while they were on a boat and Jesus calmed a violent storm, was not Peter among the apostles who were astonished at the act? (Mat 8:23-27)

It is because of his raw innocence, I say he was a commoner, as ignoramus and fearful as the rest of the Galileans.


Satan's sifting of Simon Peter as wheat.


While we say that there is no entity named Satan, people ask: didn't Satan seek permission to sift Simon Peter as wheat? They have no coherent answer for the question: whom did Satan seek permission from? Let us read the passage (from the King James Version) and attempt to understand the proceedings.



Luk 22:31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:
Luk 22:32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
Obviously, what Jesus mentioned as Satan's sifting as wheat is a test of faith, that's why Jesus said He has prayed that Peter's faith should not fail.

From Jesus' words did Simon Peter understand that a celestial monster with forked tongue, forked tail and a trident standing in front of him to sift him as wheat? NO! Have you noticed his reply?
Luk 22:33 And he said unto him, Lord,I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.
He understood Jesus was hinting at the likelihood of his being arrested by the authorities, which may lead to situations where he may lose his faith.

After these comes the well known statement by Jesus:
Luk 22:34 And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.
As we all know, thrice did Peter deny knowing Jesus, exactly as Jesus said. Why? One may argue that Satan prompted him to deny Jesus. I am not sure about other places, but we in India fear getting arrested and won't even hesitate to deny our beloved ones in order to escape an arrest. Does Satan prompt us to do so? No, it is our fear of getting arrested makes us do so. The adversary is not a celestial monster, it is fear
While gripped by fear, Peter would have forgotten Jesus' instruction: fear not them which kill the body (Mat 10:28)

Jesus anticipated Peter losing his faith and deny Him, that's why Jesus said: when thou art converted[G1994], strengthen thy brethren. The Greek word translated as converted means: 'return', 'turn around', 'turn back' and 'to turn'. Simon Peter was supposed to strengthen his brethren after turning back from loss of faith.

Assuming that a celestial evil being called Satan sought permission to sift Peter like wheat, whom will it seek permission to?
  1. God? It cannot be, because Jesus said He saw Satan falling from heaven, well before this event (Luk 10:18). 
  2. Eve if Satan sought and obtained permission from God, is it likely that Jesus would pray against the will and good pleasure of His own father?
  3. If Satan did indeed seek permission from God, it appears Satan's appeal was heard and Jesus' prayer was unheeded, because Simon Peter was indeed sifted like wheat, and lost his faith in Jesus.
  4. If #3 is true, how can we be confident that our prayers to the heavenly father, through Jesus Christ be heard?

Personification

 While God said Cain: 'sin is lying at the door. Its desire is for you', could God have meant that sin is a living being, like a dog, to be lying at door? While it is said that 'Wisdom has built her house...', is it implied that wisdom is a person?

My point is: Satan seeking / desiring to sift Peter as wheat does not make Satan into a person or an entity.


Get behind me, Satan.


Simon Peter could be a Spirit filled man at one moment and a carnal man in the very next one. Jesus was elated and excited while Simon announced that Jesus is the Christ:
Mat 16:15 He [Jesus] saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
Mat 16:16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
See the excitement of Jesus:
Mat 16:17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. (Read verses 17 and 18 as well)
But, Jesus' excitement was short-lived, in the very next minute Peter became Satan! In other words, fear gained the best of Peter, this time around, not the fear for his own life, but that of Jesus.

Mat 16:21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
Mat 16:22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.
Mat 16:23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

Overtaken by fear, he fell from the position of a Spirit filled child of God to that of a carnal man. Immediately after addressing Peter as Satan, Jesus explains what makes him Satan: Peter's thinking is that of carnal men and not in line with that of God.


In the verses that follow Jesus explains how one should esteem Him above one's own life.
Mat 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
Mat 16:25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
I am sure that you are reminded of the axiom: 'perfect love casts out fear'. (1Jn 4:18)

The transformation of Simon Peter.


If the fearfulness of Peter was incredible, equally incredible was his transformation after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Please read the address of Peter to the Jewish council in Acts 4.

Act 4:5 And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes,
Act 4:6 And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.
Act 4:7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?
Act 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,
Act 4:9 If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;
Act 4:10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.
Act 4:11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
Act 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Act 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.
Please remember that it was the same council and the same Annas and Caiaphas that Peter feared at the time of the arrest and trial of Jesus.

Please note Peter and other apostles' reply to the high priest:
Act 5:27 ... the high priest asked them,
Act 5:28 Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us.
Act 5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
Finally, the same Peter who was fearful and was afraid of being arrested, rejoiced because he and the apostles were found worthy to be persecuted because of the name of Christ.
Act 5:41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

Conclusion:

  • Simon Peter was a fearful man and not a sinful man.
  • Jesus' mentioning of Satan seeking to sift Peter like was a figurative way of telling that his faith would be tested.
  • Just as he feared for his life, he feared Jesus' life, and on both the occasions Jesus mentioned about Satan.
  • In relation to Peter, Satan stands for fear and not any celestial monster.

In Christ,
Tomsan Kattackal