St. Peter: Buffoon Or Hero?

Illustration of a smiling clown as a backdrop.

St  Peter: Buffoon or Hero?
St Peter: Buffoon or Hero?

St. Peter: Buffoon or Hero?

Each year on this Feast of the Transfiguration of Jesus, I think about St. Peter and wonder if he was a buffoon or a bold, brave hero. Putting aside for a moment that the man is a saint, we are told enough about Peter to wonder about the man…buffoon or hero? They are mutually exclusive descriptions, right?

Or could Peter be both a buffoon and a bold and brave hero? Certainly his reply to Christ’s query, “Who do they say that I am?” is far more than heroic…

But on this second Sunday of Lent, I think that both descriptions fit Peter…maybe like you and like me?! We can behave like idiots and then in the next instant, can act boldly, bravely and heroically. At least that is surely so for me.

We are told more about Peter than about any other apostle.

It was Peter, after being told that it was Jesus walking on the water on the turbulent sea during the fourth watch, who had the guts to ask the Lord to command him to come.

And come he did, in response to the command of his Lord until… he looked away from the face he adored [such an astounding lesson to us] and realized that he was committing an impossible feat; walking on water.

Jesus selects only three to go up to the mountain to pray with Him: Peter, James and John.

As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)

 While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves and did not tell anyone at that time what they had seen.

“Lord, it is good that we are here…let me build three tents, one for you, one for Elijah and one for Moses.” Once again, Peter speaks without thinking.

Just as it will be Peter who insists that nothing will keep him from his Lord, and Peter who cuts off the ear of the arresting Roman soldier and Peter who will deny his Lord. Capable, it seems of everything, the very noble and the very craven.

And yet, Jesus bothers to change his name from Simon to Peter; a name that means ‘rock.’

And the Lord goes further: this patently flawed human is given the keys to the kingdom… is told that the sins ‘he forgives will be forgiven in heaven.’

Although I try, I cannot imagine what Peter was thinking when he heard The Voice:

This is my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, Listen to Him.

Or what he was thinking when he saw the transfigured Christ on the mountain but the little I know about this St. Peter: Buffoon or Hero of ours, makes me smile…even laugh with the sheer joy of God’s choices. And that we: You-and I- are among them… despite… or perhaps because, of our capability for both the very noblest and most gutless of actions.

Thanks for reading,

Lin Wilder


  1. Joanne Rencher says:

    Peter, along with many other ‘noble’ and ‘craven’ persons in the bible, gives me such hope. The kind of hope which convinces me that God can use me. In all of my inconsistencies, hypocrisy, self-doubt and failings….God is. God is love and He’s given his only Son as the most beautiful demonstration of love, forgiveness and restoration.

    • Lin Wilder says:

      Hi Joanne!
      Amen, Amen. Thank you for your (as always) insightful comment, for taking the time to share it!

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