Whether or not he was the rock on which the Church was to be built, it’s fairly obvious Peter had an immense assignment and role in launching Christ’s Church. But why Peter?
Isn’t this the same Peter who denied Christ three times? Who lost faith when attempting to walk on water? The rash, uneducated Peter?
Who in their right mind would place all bets on a person who claimed not to know you?
It does sound like the kind of thing Jesus would pull… but really? He really went all-in with Peter. This was the man who was to tend the sheep? To build the Church?
Or was he?
Looking closely, I really see two Peters. There’s the Peter that he wanted to be, and there’s the Peter that he was. There was, at times, a vast difference between the two, but Jesus knew that and was apparently okay with it. At the Last Supper when Peter was told he would deny Christ, he refused to accept that–even if it meant his death.
Then he denied him. And again. And again. But Jesus already knew about that, and he was okay with it. What had happened between the Last Supper and Peter’s denial? Nothing. Peter wanted to be there, but he just wasn’t yet. Yet.
He would be, wouldn’t he?
And after it all went down, what does Jesus tell Peter when he’s still having trouble declaring his devotion? He tells him that he’ll get there. That he will die for it, but he has some stuff to get to first. Tend my sheep.
Even earlier Peter had asked to be called out, to be summoned across the water. It was when he took his eyes off Jesus and focused on the storm he began to sink–but at that point in time, in that moment of panic and faltering faith, what were his words? Lord, save me. Save me. He wasn’t there yet, but he knew where to put his hope meanwhile.
So why Peter?
Because Peter would never allow himself to be satisfied with where he was at. He insisted on being something greater, and he’d rather lay it all on the line for that greatness. Sometimes, many times, he couldn’t do it. But that was the point, wasn’t it? He knew who to fall back on, and he knew he had no choice but to do so.
Examining Matthew 16:15-18 a bit closer I see reference to two different rocks–Petros, a smaller/piece of rock, and petra, a massive rock. Substituting these back in, we would really get:
“But what about you?” [Jesus] asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Petros, and on this petra I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
Peter had been named a small part of the rock, and only when that’s combined with the revelation of Christ do we have something truly powerful.
So now, as I sit here at 1:55 a.m. on November 22, 2008, which happens to be my 20th birthday, I’m forced to reconsider a few things. For much of my life I always figured I’d have most things figured out by now, or at least the important stuff. That I’d be that put-together, knowledgeable, spiritual person that I’m not. I’m not at all the person I want to be.
And it’s my prayer that I’ll never be allowed to think I am. If I knew what I was doing, I wouldn’t have much use for faith, would I? And, as it seems, only the truly amazing happens when that revelation of faith gets thrown into the mix.
So when faced with the decision, the decision to either be satisfied or to oversell myself and let God fill in the gaps, I pray that I’ll always take the jump. Furthermore, I don’t want to wait for the obvious assignment, either. The obvious never seems to require much. Rather, like Peter, I pray that I’ll always seek the calling to walk on water, even, and especially when, I’m going to fall.
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