The Disciple Peter

Matthew 16:13-19

Room 103

The gospel writers record many events in the ministry of Christ in which the readers meet Peter.  Peter was of Jewish descent and was a commercial fisherman.  Peter had several encounters with Christ on the Sea of Galilee as well as other places throughout Christ’s ministry.   The panel is dominated with blue tiles that remind us of this connection. The curved lines of white tile are the fisherman’s nets.  Note on the left side of the panel, the nets are lined with the areas of the world in which Peter shared the message of Christ.  The sagging nets show the success of his mission.

The mosaic illustrates six other events in Peter’s life.  Forming the base of the panel is the repeated numbers 70 x 7.  In Matthew 18:21, Peter questions Jesus, “How often should I forgive?  As many as seven times?”  Jesus responded, “ Not seven times, but I tell you, seventy times seven.”  Jesus’ response suggested that there is no limit on forgiveness.  It is a way a life.

Continuing on the left side of the panel, two black hands extend upwards from the watery blue tile and Peter’s cry, which is written in red, reads,  “Lord, save me.”  This is a reminder of Peter’s experience with Jesus on the Sea of Galilee. Peter and the disciples were in a boat crossing the lake, late one evening, during rough weather when they saw mysterious shadowy figure coming towards them. Jesus called to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”  Peter put Jesus to a test by requesting to walk out on the water to meet him.  As he walked to the Lord, his focus changed as the wind and waves grew stronger.  His fears overpowered him and he began to drown.  He then called to Jesus for help.  Jesus reached out, grabbed his hand, and saved him.

At the top corner of the panel, there are black bars representing the times Peter was jailed for preaching the message of Jesus.  One instance is written in the book of Acts chapter 12.  It describes how a group of Christians prayed for Peter’s release from the prison in Jerusalem the night before he was to be executed.  In the middle of the night, an angel came to Peter’s cell and escorted him unchallenged by the guards or locks to freedom.

Towards the top of the panel two keys are crossed. These keys represent the “keys to heaven”.  The only key that will open the door so people can enter heaven is through the forgiveness of sins which Jesus has accomplished through his death and resurrection.  In Matthew 18:18 and John 20:22-23, Jesus gives his followers that special authority, to forgive the sins of those who repent, but to withhold forgiveness from those who do not repent.  People must realize that by nature, sin isolates them from God. It is only because of God’s love, demonstrated through Jesus’ life and death, that people can have a relationship with God and eventually live with Him forever.

Looking at the bottom right section of the panel flames of fire, torch the yellow tiles.  The phrase, “ I know not the man,” points to Peter’s denial of Jesus right before he was crucified.  The yellow tones show Peter as a coward and the weakness of his commitment to Jesus at that time.

The final focus of the panel is a rock rising out of the fire of Peter’s denial.  This suggests the growth of Peter’s faith from uncertainty and fear to certainty and confidence.  In Matthew 16:13-19 Jesus questioned the disciples as to who people thought He was. They had many answers.  Some people thought Jesus was John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.  But then Jesus got very personal in the next question.  Jesus asked,

“ But who do you say that I am?”  Perhaps there was a moment of silence as the disciples tried to formulate their thoughts. Then Peter made his great discovery and responded, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Peter was perhaps the first recorded person to realize who Jesus really was. 

Jesus continued the conversation and said, “I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it.”  Just as a rock offers stability and strength, a rock was used throughout the Old Testament writings to symbolize the power of God.  Peter understood that Jesus was the “rock” on which God’s plan of salvation would be founded.   

Peter’s name also means rock. Perhaps the rock on the panel suggests that Jesus used this analogy to show that Peter accepted Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior.  Peter would be the first stone in the building the Church so others could come to a personal relationship with Jesus too.  

The panel only depicts a few of the life experiences of Peter.  The Bible contains much more information of Peter and his ministry for Christ. Peter was truly human and had many of the some concerns about life as we do. Even his personality traits are similar to ours.   In spite of the highs and lows of his life, he was assured of Christ’s forgiveness and remained committed to Him.  This was not because he had knowledge about Jesus, but rather, Peter had experienced first hand the impact Jesus had on his life.  He knew Jesus as his personal Savior as Friend.   

In memory of Mr. and Mrs. Gustav Petersohn

Donated by the family

Last Published: February 19, 2016 11:50 AM
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