Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Reflections on Peter

I've been doing Today's Bible Reading from Bible Gateway for awhile.

Today we started 2nd Peter.

I've always liked Peter. Of all the Apostles, I think he's the easiest to relate to. He was bold, brash, and enthusiastic. He didn't always think before speaking. He wasn't always faithful, but he always had faith. He was not afraid to be transparent before Christ.

When we read through the Gospels and the Book of Acts, we can see Peter growing in "the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, our Lord." We can virtually see him changing from the one who betrayed Christ into the man who could stand up on the day of Pentecost and boldly proclaim, "Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified."

We can see ourselves in Peter's weaknesses and failings and we gain hope from seeing his growth and the way God used Him for His Kingdom.

In today's reading I lingered over the first verse:

Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ

Notice, here, that he calls himself "Simeon Peter." Christ, Himself, gave him the name of Peter, and one would think that with such an honor as that, he might have dropped the "Simeon" altogether. But Peter doesn't set aside his former name, or his former self so quickly.

Here in this first chapter, he is exhorting his readers to develop the Christian attributes of virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love. In verse nine he tells us, "For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins."

Peter never forgot the former sins from which he was cleansed. He remembered the "Simeon" part of his life; he remembered that he had been cleansed, and from what he had been cleansed.

He tells us in verse 13, "I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things."

Peter was drawing near the end of his life and he wasn't interested in burnishing his own reputation, he wanted his readers, then and now, to examine their lives as he did.

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

Did you catch that? Peter calls us, "those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours." Just stop and think about that for a moment. Sometimes I think we put the disciples and the Apostles on pedastals, thinking that they are a different "level" of Christian than we are by virtue of their intimate relationship with Jesus while He walked this earth and by the way He used them after He ascended to the Father. And without a doubt, they were all remarkable men who had a unique place in the Kingdom of God.

But they obtained their faith and standing the very same way we do; through faith in Christ--in His obedient life and His sacrificial death on our behalf. Peter knew this. He knew himself to be particularly blessed by his friendship with our Savior, but he did not translate that into thinking that he was in anyway different than all of us. While he made reference to his having been there on the Mount of Transfiguration, he doesn't stay there; he directs us all to God's revealed Word, "something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place." He doesn't stay in the brilliant light of the transfiguration, he brings us to the brilliance of the Word.

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