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3. Impetuous Simon bar Jonah.

Simon bar Jonah wasn't the deliberative, analytical type. No, his was a quick-draw, shoot from the hip personality with a hairpin trigger. He could fire words or actions any time his systems were activated. On occasion he exasperated Jesus with inappropriate talk or misreading circumstances. Yet, he is remembered as Protos, Greek for first, because his name headlined every biblical list of the Apostles (Matthew 10:1-4; Mark 3: 13-19; Luke 6: 12-16; Acts 1:13). Simon was usually their spokesman, among the three Apostles most intimate with Jesus, and the recipient of the keys of the kingdom (Matthew 16:19). And, yes, he did author two Epistles, spiritual wisdom for navigating life. Many believers throughout history have embraced Simon as a blood brother, thinking if Jesus loved and used Simon bar Jonah then surely he can love and use us too.

There were occasions when Simon spoke spiritual eloquence, deep revelations from the Father. A great illustration of the brilliance he could bring to a situation was when Jesus asked about his identity. "But who do you say that I am?" (Matthew 16:15) was answered by the momentous declaration "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). Jesus knew God had revealed this to Simon from heaven. So there were certain moments when Simon's strong voice and imposing presence carried the day. Still, throughout the Gospels are those bumbling, stumbling times when he was controlled by circumstances and responded in frustrating ways. Make note of several---

The day Jesus walked on water (Matthew 14: 22-33).

They were all in a boat on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus left the boat and walked on the water. Simon asked Jesus if he could join him. Jesus said yes. Simon was overcome by the wind, took his eyes off Jesus and began to sink. Jesus rescued Simon and said, "O you of little faith". The circumstances were in control.

On the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17: 1-13).

Jesus took Simon, James, and John to the mountain where he was transfigured: his face shone like the sun and clothes became white as light" (v. 2). Moses and Elijah appeared to them and God spoke. Peter said, "Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish I will make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah" (v. 4). God spoke through a voice from heaven and said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased: listen to him" (v. 5). Simon bar Jonah needed to listen and not talk.

The night of Jesus's arrest (Matthew 26: 30-35).

After sharing the bread and cup with them, Jesus told The Twelve that they would all fall away. Peter replied, "Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away" (v. 33). When Jesus predicted Simon's three-fold denial he added. " Even if I must die with you , I will not deny you" (v. 35). Again, long on boastful words. And, yes, he did deny Christ three times shortly thereafter.

There are many others. When Jesus started talking about his death in Jerusalem Peter rebuked him saying "This shall never happen to you!" (Matthew 16:22). Ouch! Jesus said "Get behind me Satan!" (v. 23). Later Simon drew his sword and severed the right ear of a Roman soldier (Luke 22:50). A short time later, when Jesus was taken to the high priest's house, Luke wrote that Peter followed at a distance (Luke 22:54) right after his boast about dying with Christ. You get the picture!

Those incidents aren't the end of the story for Simon bar Jonah. Something happened to to him when Jesus was raised from the dead. After the resurrection he preached the miraculous sermon on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2), and became the formative leader of the early church. And, one day he stopped boasting, quit his rambling, and died on an upside down cross. Impetuous Simon became passionate Peter.

That's the topic tomorrow, The Empty Tomb.|&mediapopup=74993036

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