Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance. 1 Peter 1:1-2 (NIV).
Let’s walk with the Apostle Peter for awhile, shall we? Throughout the 10 years of this blog, we’ve visited Moses, David, Solomon, Mark, John, James, Paul, and (possibly) Barnabas (in Hebrews); nobody really knows who wrote the book of Ruth. So now, for the next few months, let’s read some of the things Peter wrote.
You know Peter: Cephas; Simon Peter. The rock on whom Jesus would build the church. I like Peter (because I like fishermen, and Peter was a fisherman before Jesus came on the scene). He gives me hope: if Christ can use Peter for His work (as well as Peter’s sometime-competitor, Paul), then Christ can use me. I like that Peter was a common man. Beyond learning what all Jewish boys did, he probably had little or no other formal education. He had a family, or at least a wife. As a fisherman, he probably worked very hard, usually all night (which is when fish bite). He was probably burly, brusque, and maybe even profane; see his rant while he was denying Christ after the arrest in Gethsemane.
In other words, Peter was probably a lot like you or me. After Jesus’ resurrection, Peter did indeed help form the early church, and went on to be selected as the first pope. Tradition holds that he was crucified in Rome under Nero, and is buried under the high altar at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican (archaeology has largely confirmed this or something very much like it).
And he embraced change, first in Jesus’ message, then in spreading the church far beyond where he, personally, ministered. Peter was the one to whom Christ revealed that all things – and all people – were made ceremonially clean. He erased Peter’s hang-up’s about traditions, and opened his mind to new possibilities. Where Peter and Paul were sometime-competitors for church leadership, it was Peter who embraced Paul’s work and then found ways to encourage him to do it.
Peter is one of the people I most look forward to meeting in heaven. I want to hang out with him, maybe share a beer and ask him what it was like to go fishing with Jesus. Or to be whisked out of jail by an angel. Or what Pentecost felt like. Let’s spend a few weeks journeying through the letters Peter left for us.
For further reading: Matthew 24:22, James 1:1, Acts 2:9, Romans 8:29, 1 Peter 1:3
Lord Jesus, thank You for the words of your friend, Peter.