Message Monday: Training the Twelve – Peter: The Impulsive Disciple Luke 22:31-34

12 Feb

Originally Preached 02/11/18



  • Friday evening, our family watched the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang South Korea.
  • After the Korean conflict when the nation was divided at the 38th parallel, and the DMZ was established, few would have thought that either Korea would be chosen as a host site for the Olympics.
  • Over decades, North Korea has celebrated its status as one of the most impulsive, erratic, and bewildering nations in the world. A famous picture shows the relative darkness of North Korea at night, with little electric illumination in comparison to the nations around them.
  • While the North isolates themselves in every way possible, South Korea has become a nation transformed into a technological marvel. In industry, technology, and quality of life South Korea far outpaces its northern neighbor.
  • The greatest detractor from the quality of life in South Korea is the constant tension of coexisting with the impulsive North Korean regime.
  • So it was a surprise to hear that the Koreas would march together in the opening ceremonies.
    • Athletes from both nations came into the stadium together representing a united Korea.
    • They wore an emblem and flew the banner of the Korean peninsula rather than their own national colors.
    • This theme was further emphasized as the penultimate torch bearers were members of the united Korea women’s hockey team.
  • This moment of Olympic theatre, while certainly more show than substance, is the kind of move that should be celebrated and encouraged, amid necessary denouncements, if North Korea is ever to truly become a more stable nation.



  • The problem with impulsiveness, wherever it is found, is its irrational unreliability.
  • Impulsiveness derives from personal whims, desires, and opinions.
  • By saying that impulsiveness is irrational, I mean that we cannot reason with someone once they have set their attention upon accomplishing their desires.
  • By saying that impulsiveness is unreliable, I mean that no matter what has been promised beforehand, if that promise no longer suits the person it will not be kept.
  • This is not to say that all impulses are bad. Often it is the impulsive inklings that lead to great advancements.
  • It is to say that impulsiveness, or the practice of following whatever we feel, think or desire in the moment is problematic.
  • And if the apostle Peter were here today, I believe he would be the first to amen these three points that speak about transforming impulsiveness into steadfastness.

Message Points:

  • Why you ask? Listen to Peter’s own words in his second epistle.
    • 5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
    • Peter does not want Christians to be ineffective or unproductive so he commends to them a mixture of qualities, actions, and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
    • It is that knowledge of Jesus that transformed Peter from the impulsive, paradigm disciple into the steadfast spokesman of the twelve.
  • While our time does not permit us to go into every detail of Peter’s life and writing, our goal today will be to highlight the exact way that Jesus sought to transform Peter.
    • That is why we are highlighting this passage in Luke’s gospel. This passage above every other interaction with Peter distills Jesus’ message to him so that we can examine and learn from it.
    • On the night that He was to be betrayed, after a dispute about who would be the greatest and before Jesus’ final words about His passion, he turned directly to Simon Peter.
    • Notice the address in verse 31. There we read Jesus saying Simon, Simon.
      • This is Peter’s given name. He was Simon Bar-Jonah or Simon son of Jonah. Andrew, James, and John would have all known him by this name; as well as all of those in Capernaum where his home and business were located.
      • Simon would have been the name that his wife and mother-in-law and perhaps even his children would have understood him to be. If his fishing business had a sign, it likely would have been Simon & Company’s Fresh Fish.
      • But in John’s gospel verse 1:42, the moment Jesus saw Peter he said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas (which when translated is Peter).”
      • Simon means listener. If ever there was a misnamed man it was Simon Peter. While he asks more questions of Jesus than any other disciple, He rarely waited to hear the full answer.
      • Peter on the other hand means Rock. While Peter was certainly a man who could motivate a crowd, his impulsiveness when Jesus met him made him far from the steadfast leader.
      • Throughout his training, Jesus made a distinction between times of growth and failure by the name he chose to call him.
      • It is almost as if when Simon Peter acted impulsively Jesus used his name Simon to call him to slow down and listen. On the other hand when he used the name Peter he was celebrating the action he had taken to stand fast as the rock of faith for the disciples.
      • We can see this dynamic in play in Matthew 16.
        • Jesus asks the disciples first who people think he is. They respond with all the day’s gossip.
        • He then asks who they think he is. Simon Peter responds in verse 16, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
        • Jesus then says to him, “blessed are you Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
        • Did you hear it?
          • Jesus first makes note Peter’s impulsive response and by calling him Simon asking him to slow down and listen.
          • This impulsive response was positive, and Jesus highlights that Peter’s confession came from God the Father.
          • Then calls him Peter, calling him to stand fast upon his confession of faith, assuring him that he will build his church upon confessions of faith like that.
        • Then as Jesus begins to reveal to His disciples the details of his passion, Simon Peter interrupts him and seeks to rebuke Jesus.
          • In just moments Simon Peter’s impulsiveness took him from a mountaintop to a disaster.
          • Jesus turns to rebuke Simon Peter saying, “Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, you do not have in mind the concerns of God but merely human concerns.”
  • This account leads to our 1ST point of transformation in Peter’s life: Impulsiveness is destructive without a secure foundation. (22:31-32)
    • Notice with me the rest of what Jesus says in verse 31-32.
      • Satan is active in this world.
        • He desires to sift believers as wheat.
        • Sifting wheat was accomplished by throwing the wheat into the air. The lightweight chaff would blow away, but the heavy wheat would fall to the ground.
        • Satan wants to blow away light-weight faith.
          • If we have chosen to follow Jesus because we think it will bring us our best life now, Satan wants to challenge that.
          • If we have chosen to follow Jesus because our family follows Jesus, Satan will attack that.
          • If we have chosen to follow Jesus because we want a miracle right now, Satan may seek to actually make our lives harder in the here and now.
        • And in Simon Peter’s life he could surely remember times when he was sifted by Satan.
          • At his calling that we mentioned last week from Luke 5, after reluctantly obeying Jesus’ instruction to let down the nets, Peter realized Satan’s deceiving work when he said, “Go away from me Lord; I am a sinful man” in verse 5:8 Why? Because it was evident that he had believed Satan’s lies, and probably let down the nets impulsively to prove Jesus wrong.
          • Similarly, in a moment of triumph Peter recognized all too quickly how Satan can whisper doubt into our ears. Peter asked in Matthew 14:26, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water,” and Jesus answered “Come”. Bold and impulsive Peter stepped out of the boat but in an instant, after walking far enough for everyone to know he did not fall overboard, Peter began to look away from Jesus and sink. Who do you think was planting those seeds of doubt in Peter’s mind that led him to impulsively look away?
          • Though it is yet to come, when the company showed up to arrest Jesus in Matthew 26, Mark 14, and Luke 22, Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of Malchus, servant of the chief priest. Bad aim and all, who do you think emboldened Peter and played upon his impulse to protect his Master? If he had listened Jesus told all the disciples that he had to come to Jerusalem to die for the penalty of sin and be raised again. Satan on the other wanted to entice any confusion he could to distract from Christ’s purpose.
      • Just as much as Satan is at work, verse 33 is reassuring and helpful as it reminds us that Jesus is for us.
        • Jesus both prays for us and calls us to further service.
        • First Jesus says, “I pray that your faith may not fail.”
          • Peter’s faith failing is different than Peter failing.
          • Peter most certainly failed in denying Christ. We know that in just hours he would stand in the court of the High Priest and deny Jesus three times, even using expletives to make his point.
          • That impulsive attempt to distance himself from Jesus was sinful and failure, but it did not come from a heart that wanted to betray Jesus.
          • Notice if you will in Luke 22:61-62, at the moment of his betrayal Peter’s eyes caught those of Jesus and he remembered Jesus’ words to him. Then we read that he went outside and wept bitterly.
          • Peter’s love for Jesus drove him to follow Him with John all the way to the court of the high priest. His failure in denying Christ broke his heart. And I believe that as Peter wept that night it was the next part of Jesus’ statement to him that he remembered.
        • Notice that Jesus says, “when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
          • Unlike Judas who departed never to return to the Twelve, Peter evidentially never abandoned the group.
          • He was there with the other disciples on resurrection morning in John 20:2 so that Mary knew where to find him. She ran to alert Simon Peter by name.
          • It was Peter who encouraged the rest of the twelve to go fishing with him as they awaited Jesus’ further instructions in John 21.
          • It was Peter who became the spokesman for the disciples both in Acts 1 as they chose to elect a new 12th apostle and as someone needed to proclaim the gospel at Pentecost in chapter 2.
        • Jesus’ transforming love and Word secured for Peter a foundation of faith that made a way to overcome failure.
          • And friends that same transforming love of Christ and witness in His Word tells us that when we fail, either as non-believers or believers, and recognize our need for forgiveness and cleansing that we, like Peter can turn to Jesus and receive salvation.
          • Peter writes in 1 Peter 1:3-6
            • 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
            • Do you notice that He says we have been born again to a living hope and into an inheritance that can never perish? He further says we will have all kinds of trials, but we rejoice in the fact that our inheritance cannot be taken from us.
            • In other words though we may fail being born again will drive us to stop, return to Christ, and proceed because of the hope there is in Him.
  • This is the essential difference between Peter and Judas: Peter depended increasingly upon Christ; while Judas depended increasingly upon himself.
  • In fact this distinction is the second point for us to consider today: Self-resolve is not a secure enough foundation to restrain our impulses. (22:33)
    • Through his experiences, Peter began to learn that his self-resolve was not enough of a foundation to restrain his impulses.
    • Especially upon this night when he boldly proclaimed in verse 33, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and death,” Peter learned that his self-resolve evaporated a few hours later in the face of a young girl who asked if he had been with Jesus.
    • But this was not a new lesson for Peter. For instance, In Matthew 17 a tax collector asked Peter if Jesus would pay his taxes to support the upkeep of the temple.
      • Peter knew enough about who Jesus was to know that as the Son of God, he should not have to pay this tax.
      • Further, perhaps in his mind was Jesus statement that he would destroy the temple and rebuild it anew in three days.
      • Thus Peter wanted to argue about the taxes though he impulsively defended his master to the tax collector.
      • Jesus asked him in verse 17:25 “what do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth collect duty and taxes – from their own children or from others.”
        • Of course the answer was from others, then Jesus said, “but so that we may not cause offense” go catch a fish and pay the tax for me and you with the coin in the fish’s mouth.
        • If Peter had relied upon his self, he may have found the money and paid the tax for Jesus. He might have protested the issue with the tax collector. He could have even ignored the issue.
        • But with Jesus’ intervention, he submitted himself to the governing authorities and more importantly he submitted himself to trust the Lord’s provision for him.
        • And provide the Lord did. Not only did he have someone drop two coins into a lake. He also had a fish to eat it. Then he had Peter to catch the fish. And the coin was exactly enough, a shekel or four drachma, to pay for Jesus and Peter’s temple tax.
    • Another instance on this very same night of the betrayal occurred when Peter refused to let Jesus wash his feet in John 21.
      • He impulsively relied on his own cleanliness rather than let Jesus wash his feet.
      • He totally missed Jesus’ point in this symbol. Jesus wanted the disciples to rely upon Him for cleansing from every sin they might encounter in the world, so he washed the dust of the world from their feet.
      • When Jesus told him that if he did not allow this he would have no part of him, Peter then impulsively said well wash all of Him.
      • Jesus then told Peter that a total bath was unnecessary just the cleansing of the offended part.
    • How often friends do we take Peter’s self-reliant all or nothing at all approach to Jesus?
      • We will stubbornly resolve not to bother Jesus with our day to day sins, or as an unbeliever ignoring our sins altogether. We forget as we do not bring those sins to him in the moment how often we depend His mercy and grace.
      • All the while our self-resolve builds a hardness in us that insists that our way must be the right way.
      • Those of us who are believers sometimes insist that for us to confess we must wait for an emotional moment when we feel the Spirit moving so we can come and rededicate our lives to Christ and confess our sins.
      • This is exactly the kind of impulsive self-resolve that Jesus battled against in Peter.
      • Listen to Peter, in his second epistle 3:14, who learned the lesson of depending upon Christ. “So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.”
      • Peter tells them to make every effort or put another way “follow every impulse” to be spotless, blameless and at peace with Christ. The impulses that we should follow are those that call us to depend upon Christ.
  • If we do that then, our third point will be true of us as it was of Peter. Trusting Christ will transform our impulsiveness into steadfastness. (22:34)
    • Luke 22:34 tells us that Jesus predicted Peter’s three-fold denial of Christ before the rooster’s crow.
    • In John 21 Jesus takes his prediction and reverses it by asking Peter three times if he loved him.
      • Jesus also instructed Peter after every affirmation of His love for Jesus to feed and tend his flock.
      • Jesus still had work for Peter to do, and his impulses had to be grounded in a steadfast trust in Christ to strengthen the flock.
    • By doing this Jesus was reminding Peter that loving and trusting Christ was the most important foundation from which he could lead.
    • Acts tells us that even before the first ten years of the church had passed, Peter had been in prison for proclaiming salvation through Christ at least three times. Never did Peter relent in Acts.
    • Though he faltered in Galatia, by showing preference to circumcised brothers, he received the rebuke of Paul and became the spokesman at the Jerusalem Council for the inclusion of the Gentiles because the steadfastly trusted Christ as did the Jews.
    • Tradition tells us that Peter went to Rome, having John Mark record his preaching of Christ in the gospel we now call Mark.
      • Upon being sentenced to death, Peter watched as the Romans tortured and crucified his wife, all the while encouraging her to “remember the Lord.”
      • He then asked to be crucified upside down because he, impulsive as ever, but steadfast in his devotion to Christ did not feel worthy to die as his Lord had died.



  • Jesus took a man, Simon, who listened to His call, and made Him Peter, upon whose confession the whole church stands.
  • But Jesus can take you as well, if you hear his call this morning and connect you to His church. All you must do, like Peter is confess you trust in Him as the saving Son of God; following Him as your Lord.


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Posted by on February 12, 2018 in Ministry of the Word


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