I’ve been fascinated by Peter lately. Whenever I mention him in sermons, I note how he always has something to say, represents me at my most honest, and shows how not to handle certain situations.
But I’ve been seeing him a little differently lately. All those things are still true, but I believe I’m starting to see him a little bit more the way, well, Jesus saw him. Not as an object lesson, parable, character foil, or speaker-of-many-words-that-should-not-have-been. But as Peter. As a person.
You ever noticed how many times Simon Peter is mentioned by name in the Gospels?
Within the Gospels alone, “Simon” or “Peter” shows up 152 times. That’s a lot of Peter doing, saying, living around, with, and alongside Jesus.
Peter does a lot of silly things. When seeing Jesus transfigured, he suggests building lodging for His Lord and His two friends because he didn’t know what to say. When Jesus painstakingly foretells the closing hours of His life, Peter responds by rebuking Jesus for saying such a thing. He cuts a guy’s ear off, then runs away when Jesus doesn’t back him up.
But do you know what else he does? He walks with Jesus. He’s in the front row of nearly every highlight and lowlight of Jesus’ ministry. He searches the tomb when he hears that He’s risen. He walks on water. He is eager to see His Lord on the shore after He has risen. He is embraced by Christ even after denying Him. He is commissioned. He is loved.
If I didn’t know how the book(s) ended, I would’ve wagered that Peter was the one going to sell out Jesus, not Judas. That’s how it looks to us humans, right? The ones with the most mistakes loses?
Instead, I believe Peter had one of the strongest relationships with Christ out of all the disciples. Out of anyone. And it came down to him living his true self in Jesus’ presence. Peter received some of the highest praise and the harshest rebukes from Jesus, and he still walked with Him. Jesus could work with Peter because he was being himself in His presence. Much harder to help someone like Judas who hides his heart, intentions, thoughts, and plans. Peter was an open book, even to a fault. And Jesus could work with that. Jesus could have a relationship with him.
Peter shows me that Jesus isn’t interested in us looking the part. Jesus is interested in us bringing our authentic selves — all our questions, words, silences, joys, fears, doubts, plans, dreams. Jesus wants a relationship with us, not a hypothetical version.
I want to be more like Peter.