I love Peter. The Gospels portray him as painfully human. He’s a man of action. He blurts things out without thinking. He bumbles around and bungles things but keeps coming back to Jesus, who always forgives him and welcomes him back with open arms.
In short, he’s a lot like me.
The fact that Jesus chose an “unschooled, ordinary man” (Acts 4:13) like Peter to play a pivotal role in the history of the church gives me great hope. To help us get started, here are some highlights of this ordinary man’s extraordinary life:
New Name. Peter’s original name was Simon. Jesus changed it to Peter — which means “Rock” — symbolizing that he would become a totally new dude. (John 1:42)
Follow Me. Peter was a fisherman. He left his bait and tackle behind when Jesus said, “Come follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Mark 1:17)
O Ye of Little Faith. He walked on water briefly but then sank and was rescued by Jesus when he started to doubt. (Matthew 14:28-31)
Get Behind Me Satan. Peter became the disciples’ chief spokesperson. He was lauded when he identified Jesus as the Messiah but then rebuked approximately five nanoseconds later when he objected to Jesus’ prediction that he would soon suffer and die. (Matthew 16:13-23)
All of Me. At the Last Supper, Peter initially objected to Jesus washing his feet. But when Jesus told him, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me,” Peter replied: “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” (John 13:6-9)
The Ear Incident. Still not trusting God’s plan, Peter tried to stop Jesus’ arrest by hacking off a guy’s ear. Jesus rebuked Peter again, saying: “Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” (Matthew 26:51-52)
I Don’t Know Him. Peter hit a new low when — despite his protestations that he would never do so – he denied even knowing Jesus when questioned by a little servant girl and others after Jesus’ arrest. (Matthew 26:31-35, 69-75)
Do You Really Love Me? Shortly before ascending into heaven, Jesus repeatedly asked Peter if he really loved him and then instructed him to “take care of my sheep.” (John 21:15-19)
Peter Comes Alive. Demonstrating that this whole Christianity thing just might be real, Peter was absolutely transformed by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This formerly frightened bungling bumbler became a powerful preacher, boldly leading many to faith despite severe persecution, repeated imprisonment and eventual martyrdom. (Acts 2-5, 12, John 21:18)
Peter’s Letters. Peter left behind some of the wisest writings the world has ever seen. We’ll dive into ‘em starting tomorrow. For now, here’s a little something to get us started:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade – kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)