Saint Peter and the Last Supper



I have always been fascinated by the figure of Saint Peter, our first Pope.  He was such an unlikely choice!  God could have chosen a priest, a very wise teacher, a prophet, a ruler, even, Heaven help us, a lawyer.   Someone who, to most superficial human eyes, would have been vastly more suited to be the first head of His Church on Earth. Instead he chose a humble fisherman.  Why?  Any number of reasons, I suppose, many of them still known only to God.  Perhaps one of the major factors was the love that Peter bore for Christ.  We see this after their first meeting when Peter urges Christ to go from him because Peter is a sinful man.  I think that at that point Peter desperately wanted to follow Christ, but he thought he was unworthy to because of his sins.  He was willing to have Christ depart from him in order to protect Christ from Peter’s sinful nature.

Peter is heartbroken when Christ reveals that he must die on the Cross.  Peter tells Christ that this must not happen, only to be rebuked by Christ for acting as a Satan attempting to tempt His human weakness.  This was said shortly after Christ, no doubt to Peter’s immense shock, advised him that He was going to build His Church on him, and committed to him the keys of the kingdom of Heaven.  How strange it must have all seemed to the Fisherman from Galilee!  However, his love for Christ kept him at the side of Jesus.

At the Last Supper when Christ reveals the Eucharist, He has this dialogue with Peter:

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”

And he (Peter) said unto him, “Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.”

And he (Jesus) said, “I tell thee Peter, the cock show not crow on this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.”

After seeing the great miracle of the Last Supper, Peter did precisely that, deserting Christ in His hour of need, denying him three times. 

After the Resurrection Peter would lead the Church until his execution under Nero in Rome.  He would take the early steps that transformed a movement among Jews in Judea into a new religion spanning the Roman Empire, spreading rapidly among both Gentiles and Jews.  His papacy would be capped by his martyrdom, dying on a cross upside down at his request because he was unworthy to die the death that Christ had died.

In choosing Peter, God demonstrated the immense possibilities in the most unlikeliest of God’s children when transformed by the love of God and His grace.  God granted us the Eucharist to bestow upon us this grace and a never failing reminder of His love.  We live in a Fallen World, and our lives are often marred by cowardice and doubt and endless sins.  Holy Thursday reminds us that like Peter we often deny Christ by what we have done and what we fail to do.  However, Holy Thursday also reminds us that also like Saint Peter as long as we live we always have the possibility to do great things for God and our Neighbor if our hope and love can overcome our doubt and fear.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.


  1. Beautifully done.
    Wait a second…..Jesus could of chosen a Lawyer?
    Well ummm, a public defender??…yes Yes a public defender!
    Just kidding…I realize your profession is an easy target. Many great Bannisters make good public officials…atleast thats what I’ve heard.
    All kidding aside. Thank you for this post.

  2. St. Peter, pray for us.

    And, When Our Lord was led out from before the council, we looked at Peter and their eyes met. And, Peter wept bitterly and fled.

    However, Peter repented and sought forgiveness and came forward (Christ’s prayer for Peter had been answered) to lead his brothers and he founded the Church in Rome.

    When it came to his time to bear the fatal witness to the Gospel, Peter required that he be crucified head down so as not to die as Our Lord had died to redeem the World.

    We adore you, O Christ, and we bess you. Because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the World.

  3. Though, in his first Volume of Jesus of Nazareth, Benedict does propose that the Father of Simon and Andrew may have been one of the priests who performed duties in the temple on a rotating basis and that he kept his fishing business nearby to help make ends meet.

    If this is true, then it does point to a certain basic familiarity with the Temple that Simon/Peter would have had, rather than being merely some “ignorant fisherman”.

  4. Whoops… I was mistaken. It was Zebedee the father of James and John that was referred to above as a possible priest with Temple duties, not Simon and Andrew’s father. (Jonah?)

  5. Yes, Chris. John tells us in his Gospel that he was known to the high priest. Strange, though, Zebedee is not called Saint. If I add a point to this excellent post: When Jesus speaks to Peter at the Passover meal, He first uses the plural “You,” then He switches to the singular. “Satan has desired to sift you (plural), but I have prayed for thee (singular). Such it is in the inspired Greek.

  6. It is simply astounding to imagine Peter in Rome!

    He probably had a good head for business and figures since he had his own boat and men working for him but I doubt he spoke more than his local dialect or read more than essential Hebrew.

    That he and Paul spread the Gospel so widely is one of God’s most amazing and least celibrated miracles! It gives me great hope too for so many good people are lost and desperate. The West so very much needs us; now more than ever.

    I really heard the Good Friday readings for the first time today. I’ve gone through the Tridium motions for years but I heard the Gospel loudly today. How did I miss the passages from Isaiah foretelling Christ?! I’m a 42 year old, cradle Catholic and I never put it together… Even though the Church put it together for me. 700 years before Christ he told the world exactly what was going to happen. And, you know what, I now believe… Not in the amorphous, non-specific sense that I have but in the sense that my mind can conceive of no explanation for the accuracy of Isaiah’s prophesy that that Jesus is the Christ!

    It is a very good day and I am filled with hope and joy and am excited by my discovery and overwhelmed by my foolishness.

    Jesus lives!

  7. I think of the devil in the role of accuser, his place in the story of Job and how it parallels his part with Peter. Interesting.

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