Simon Peter … numbered among the twelve apostles, a prominent figure in the New Testament, an intimate of Jesus Christ. By trade, Peter was a fisherman who left his day job to follow Christ. The Gospel accounts show Peter was a blustery man, given to acting impulsively and speaking his mind.
I tend to identify with Peter. As I’ve aged, I’ve managed better control over my impulses (I have yet to slice off an ear … mostly due to lack of sword accessibility), but speaking my mind is the greater challenge. I identify with Peter’s bluster, his boldness in declaring loyalty that has yet to be tested. When I think of Peter, the face that comes to mind is John Rhys-Davies, the burly British actor whose roles mostly portray a brave adventurer and feisty but loyal friend, someone who will stand by your side … to the death!
Indeed, Peter stood by Jesus, even as the soldiers came to haul Jesus away. What’s not to admire about that daring friend whose sword stands ready in defense?! He had much still to learn from Jesus but Peter’s heart was so solid … so rooted … toward the Savior!
At first, Peter wasn’t an especially detail-oriented individual, but to his credit, he was drawn by a relationship with Jesus. He had (as mentioned in yesterday’s post) “left everything” and on that occasion at least challenged Jesus to explain exactly what Peter would “get out of it.” (Matthew 19:27) I wonder how Peter might have responded if Jesus had enumerated all the things the future actually held for Peter?
But Jesus knew Peter’s heart. He wasn’t yet The Rock Jesus predicted he would become eventually. Still, when Jesus had asked Peter, “Who do people say I am? … Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:13-20), Peter daringly asserted: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Given subsequent interactions between Jesus and Peter, it seems improbable Peter understood the full scope of his declaration, but with small steps, he was embracing a bold faith to complement his bold pronouncements. Like all of us, Peter was flawed. Within a brief time of swearing he would fight − to the death − for Jesus, he had (as Jesus foretold) denied his friend, denied his friend again, and then with cursing, issued a final agonizing denial.
For National Poetry Month, this poem supposes a modern-day translation of Peter’s staunch claim that he’d never deny Christ.
Like I said earlier, I identify with Peter’s failures. I can’t imagine having the devastating experience of denying − three times − my close personal relationship with Christ and immediately realizing I have demonstrated the depth of my own wickedness!
Jesus already knew. Jesus had already forgiven his friend. Following the Resurrection of Jesus, Peter was transformed, bolder still and wiser, but marvelously tempered by the grace of God at work in his life. He became the Rock, a defender of the faith, just as Jesus had promised he would be.
Don’t take my word for it. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ was (and continues to be) a transformative event. There are four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). Read just one, take a fresh look, approach the story as if it’s totally new, totally unfamiliar to you. Do you dare?