Peter, Jesus... and Me

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From the archives: August 2006

I'm realizing again just how much I relate to the Peter of the New Testament. I try to put myself in the story of the Bible, try to embrace the eternal message of the divine... and the human (that the divine created). Peter makes it easy for me. I so connect to his classic scenes.

When I read about Peter it’s easy for me to see… 

a man with his foot in his mouth;

his mouth in everyone’s ear;

and someone else’s ear in his hand!

And it’s pretty much true…look at him:    

  • After a considerable amount of time with Jesus, Peter’s still interrupting teaching time with requests in Matthew 15, like, “explain the parable to us”. Followed by Jesus’ first closing his eyes, moving from despair to smile to a nasal laugh, before cupping his face in his hands and asking, “Are you still so dull?”
  • In Luke 12, he leans over to Jesus and interrupts the lesson to ask, “Lord, are you telling this parable to us or everyone?” What was he going to do? If it wasn’t for the others, what was he was going to do? Dismiss them? Ask for privacy for the closed teaching session? Give a benediction? Collect an offering?
  • In Matthew 16, he gets in Jesus’ face and corrects the Master, “you gotta stop all this gloom and doom talk about you dyin’. People are gonna start thinkin’ you’re depressed or somethin’. I’ll keep you outta prison if you’ll let me help you.”
  • In Matthew 17, Peter’s so dumbfounded by seeing Moses and Elijah with Jesus, he blubbers brilliance in low wattages and suggests that if it’s okay with Jesus, he’ll construct a monument for each of them right then, right there! He didn’t know to stay quiet, to wait for Michelangelo, to break into worship… Mark notes that he was so frightened, he didn’t know what to say!
  • In Matthew 26, he makes big claims about his commitment to Jesus – “I’ll never turn back!” Eyeballs everyone else and insists, “everyone else might, but not me. In fact, I predict they probably will. Yep, I can see it. Everyone of these guys will probably tuck tail and run. Not me. I’m ready. I’d even die with you!” By late in that chapter Peter’s sleeping when he should be praying, lobbing off soldier’s ears, hiding in the shadows and lying about his association with Jesus.

Which part do you relate to? When I read Peter’s story through the Gospels, I get a little concerned about how much I’m like him…

  • Tending to miss the point
  • Wanting to take charge
  • Worried about how this old-fashioned, simple death and life story really relates to people who think he’s another spiritual mystic
  • Making big claims about what I’d do if I had the resources
  • Claiming a commitment to die for him, when I struggle to live for him
  • Swinging a sword of self-reliance when I should be relying on the Sword of the Spirit

Then I like to flip over to Peter's letters ... and because of Christ in Peter's life - there's hope for me, too.

I'm telling you - People really matter.