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Bible Lives  
13. Peter
13.1 Peterís Conversion || 13-1-1 Peter The Rock || 13-1-2 Peter Our Example || 13-1-3 Peter's Coversion || 13-2-1 Peter And The Cross || 13-2-2 Peter And Quo Vadis? || 13.3 Peterís Preaching: 13-3-1 Peterís Preaching || 13-3-2 Peter And The Stone Of Daniel 2 || 13-3-3 Peter's Realization Of Sinfulness || 13-3-4  Appreciation Of Christís Exaltation || 13.4 Peter The Shepherd: 13-4-1 Peter The Shepherd || 13-4-2 Peter And The Judaizers || 13-4-3 The Letters Of Peter || 13-5-1 Peter And Christ || 13-5-2 Peter And The Titles Of Christ || 13-6 Peter: Bible Student || 13-7 Walking On Water

 


13-2-2 Peter And Quo Vadis?

Yet it is an observable feature in the lives of many giants of faith that they die with elements of weakness still (Samson with his unChristian desire for personal vengeance would be the clearest example, or Jacob speaking of how he took land from the Amorite with his strength and his bow, when the Lord gave it to him by grace, cp. Ps. 44:3). And in this matter of following the Lord to the cross, it could be that even Peter faltered (1). Jn. 21:18,19 could be taken as meaning that Peter was to die the death of crucifixion, which would be the final fulfilment of the charge to ďfollow meĒ. Jn. 21:19 contains the observation that as he would be led to that place of execution, it would be a death that ďthou wouldest notĒ. The Lord foresaw that Peterís unwillingness to accept the cross would surface even then. One of the most well attested extra Biblical traditions about Peter is found in the apocryphal ĎActs of Peterí. It is that as he was being led to crucifixion, the Lord Jesus appeared to Peter, and Peter asked: ĎDomine, quo vadis?í- ĎLord / Master, to where are we going?í (repeating his words of Jn. 13:36), as if somehow even then, he found the final acceptance of the cross hard. As indeed, it would be. In Jn. 13:36, the Lord had answered the question by telling Peter that then, he wasnít able to follow Him to death. But he would do so at a later date. And that time had come, although it took a lifetime to reach. This tradition has, to me, the ring of truth about it, from all that we know of Peterís problem with the cross. And it exactly mirrors our own difficulty in facing up to the stark realities of the life of self-sacrifice and ultimate self-crucifixion to which we are called, the question of Quo Vadis?. Only then, at the very very end, did he realize that following Christ was a call to follow Him to His cross. And another extra Biblical tradition has a similar likelihood of truth: it is said that when finally Peter was brought to the place of crucifixion, he insisted on being crucified upside down, as he was unworthy to die the same death as his Lord. Another tradition says that because of this unusual angle of crucifxion, the nails fell out and Peter was offered the chance of release, which he refused, and asked to be crucified with his Lord, still upside down. If all this is so, he finally learnt the lesson which we likewise struggle for a lifetime to learn: that following Christ means going to His cross with Him, and in the process learning and feeling through and through our unworthiness. And he learnt too that to die with Christ is never forced upon us by the Lord who bought us: in Peterís final, willing choice of death, as with our day by day denials of the flesh for Christís sake, we make the choices purely from our own volition. We alone decide, in the terror, pain and difficulty of a genuine freewill, that thus it must be for us. And for us, Quo Vadis?


Notes

(1) As an aside, there is an OT background to the Lordís invitation to follow Him in the taking up of the cross and following to the place of crucifixion. It is in the frequent references to the faithful following after Yahweh Himself (e.g. Dt. 7:4; 2 Chron. 34:33). Itís as if the Lord was saying that the essence of Yahweh was in the cross He carried. To follow Him to the end, to live the life of cross carrying, leads us to Yahweh Himself. The connection between the cross and God Himself is expanded upon in Private People in Beyond Bible Basics.

 


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