March 1 - 1 Peter 1:1a

Saturday, March 1, 2014

1 Peter 1:1a – Peter

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

Who is Peter?  Scripture gives us an amazing amount of information about this man.  We see the loftiest heights and the darkest depths in his relationship with Jesus. He is a man who came from humble beginnings and yet, within 3 years was transformed into a man that would be the rock on which the church was built (Matthew 16:18).

We meet Peter when his brother Andrew brings him to Jesus (John 1:35-42). The first thing that Jesus said to this man was "You are Simon (which means 'reed') son of John.  You will be called Cephas (which is Aramaic for the Greek 'Petros' which is finally translated to Peter)."

Peter was from the town of Bethsaida (John 1:44), but settled in Capernaum with his mother-in-law (Luke 4:31, 38).  He was a fisherman who owned his own fishing boat (Luke 5:1-11, Matthew 4:18-22, Mark 1:14-20).

Peter experienced the great miracles of Jesus' ministry. He was with Jesus when Jairus' daughter was raised from the dead (Luke 8:51-56). He was one of the three who experienced the Transfiguration of Jesus (Luke 9:28-36). Peter was the one that Jesus called to walk to Him on the water (Matthew 14:25-32) and was sent by Jesus to catch the fish that would have the coin to pay the tax (Matthew 17:24-27).

Peter asked about forgiveness and Jesus responded with "seventy-seven times." (Matthew 18:21-22), Peter was the disciple that in Matthew 15:15 frustrated Jesus to the point of asking, "Are you still so dull?" and went on to explain what He meant by being unclean - that the things that come out of the heart make a man unclean, not the things that are eaten (Matthew 15:16-20).

One of the most powerful confessions of Christ was made by Peter in Matthew 16:13-20. When Jesus asked "Who do you say that I am?" it was Peter who  immediately responded "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."  He knew whom He was following. He had no doubt. And that day, Jesus revealed Peter's strength to everyone by offering the keys of the kingdom of heaven and stating that He would build His church on the strength of that faith.

We find Jesus worrying over Peter in Luke 22:31-32 and assuring him that He, Jesus, was praying for him. Within a few verses we find Jesus telling Peter of the upcoming events.  He would deny his Lord.  I think those two verses (Luke 21:31-32) are quite telling. Even though Jesus was praying that Peter's faith would not fail, he was certain that Peter's character would fail.  Notice the last sentence: "And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers."  Before Peter failed, Jesus told him what to do when it was over.

Peter struck the high priest's servant, Malchus, in the garden of Gethsemane, cutting off his ear (John 18:10). Jesus healed it in Luke 22:50-51.

These last days of Jesus life were filled with tension and stress for the disciples. Peter showed it by disowning Jesus and we see no sign of him at the crucifixion. I can't imagine the depths of sorrow that washed over him that day.

Peter was with John when they entered the empty tomb and discovered the linen cloths lying there (John 20:1-9). It was Peter who suggested fishing the night that they caught nothing. Jesus showed up on the beach the next morning and when Peter realized who it was, became so excited that he swam to shore without waiting for the boat to get there. He could hardly wait to see his friend, his master ... his Lord.

And it was Peter who received a trilogy of questions regarding his love for Jesus. This was his chance to reaffirm the relationship that he had with his Lord.  He didn't understand it, but He did learn from it.

By the time we get to the book of Acts, Peter is the leader of the disciples. He conducts the meeting in which they replace Judas (Acts 1:12-26). Peter's sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-41) mobilized the believers and 3000 were added to their number that day.  The first portion of the book of Acts follows the activities of the early disciples, led by Peter. He has a falling out with Paul, but we will see at the end of Peter's second letter, that they have a mutual respect and regard for each other.

He traveled on missionary journeys. Scholars believe that Mark's gospel was given to him by Peter, so it is often called Peter's gospel. Tradition holds that Peter was in Rome during Nero's reign and was martyred there as was Paul. The Catholic Church begins its history with the first pope - Peter. It is in Saint Peter's basilica in the Vatican that his bones are buried and it is there that each new Pope is anointed.

I've long since fallen for this fisherman. Peter's strength of faith and his utter humanity draw him out of the pages of my Bible. He was a common man who was touched by the Savior of the world in such a way that he set about to change the world. It is because of that relationship that Simon Peter - a reed that would become a rock - will never be forgotten.