Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My Friend Peter

Throughout the course of the year because of my various English students I have had the pleasure of reading the Gospel of Mark twice, John once and selections from Luke and Matthew. Throughout this year, I have come to realize that one of my all time favorite Bible characters is Peter.

Often when we say the name Peter, several things come to mind. The first is Peter the Saint. The guy with the keys to the kingdom who is responsible for letting people into Heaven. Another image is the guy who was insisted he'd never deny Jesus, only to do so quite effectively several hours after his statement. Sometimes his name also evokes the image of the guy who was brave enough to get out of the boat but didn't have enough faith to keep walking on water, or took his eyes off Jesus, and started to drown. Peter has been an object lesson for Sunday schools and sermons for years and years.

And I am pleased to tell you that since I have been following his escapades throughout three of the four gospels, I've gotten to know him in quite a different way the past year.

Peter suffers from the same terminal condition we all do -- humanity. I think sometimes Peter gets a bad rap in some of his stories because we don't look at the whole picture. Here was Peters issue. I think he was a guy who often spoke before he really thought things through. Look at the examples and it makes sense.

Jesus: "Hey you! Yeah, you! Come with me and you're gonna be catching some men."
Peter: "Okay!" *drops nets; follows Jesus*

On a mountain with James, John and Jesus:
*Elijah and Moses Appear. Everyone Shocked and Awed*
Peter: "What in the world?! Dude, we need to build these guys some shelters!"

Last Supper:
Jesus: "You're all going to abandon me"
Peter: "I'm never gonna leave you, bro!"
*Open mouth, insert foot.*

Deciding to go to Jerusalem:
Peter: "Are you insane?! You're gonna get killed if we go to Jerusalem!"

Sea of Galilee:
Peter: "If it's really you man, let me come out to you!"

By the way, this gave me a whole new perspective on the Bible lesson about taking your eyes of Jesus. The book of Matthew talks about Peter seeing the wind, and becoming afraid. Honestly, I think what happened during this event was all of a sudden, Peter realized what he was doing and started freaking out which shook the faith that was keeping him on the water in the first place. That seems pretty likely to me. I mean, that's how I'd feel anyway.

From what I can tell, Peter was a man of action. Look at how he reacted when Jesus was arrested. He cut off a guy's ear first thing. I think he tended to react before really thinking, before really taking the time to process. As a result, he was often sticking his foot in his mouth. But at the same time, deep down his intentions were good. Which is part of the Lord's patience with him I think. I mean never once does Jesus rebuke Peter for being so quick tempered and thoughtless. For being so passionate. Instead, I see their relationship almost as like someone teaching a child. "Well Peter, you are going to deny me. Three times actually." It's not like Jesus is like "Hey, you're an idiot. You have no idea what you're talking about." I mean not like Jesus would do that anyway, but it just amazes me the patience Jesus had with him.

And I can see why Jesus was tight with Peter, why he changed his name to "rock" in the first place. He saw Peters passion, his zealousness, his willingness to do what it takes, his desire and sure, Peter could be impulsive at times, but there were times it served him well. Besides, I imagine Jesus constantly teaching him lessons when he would burst out saying things for three years did a lot to temper Peter's reactions. Or maybe not because he and Paul did have that argument some years later. And I imagine, that could've stemmed from some of Peter's "speaking before thinking" nature.

I think that's why Peter's become one of my favorite characters. The same reasons Jesus probably chose him to deal with the Jewish expansion of Christianity. The guy has passion, drive, good intentions and just the fact that the things he says stem from his human nature, just make him more relateable. He's just an all around cool guy. 

1 comment:

Nick Resar said...

I had a religion teacher that said Peter gave him hope, because if a guy could mess up that often and still be made the first pope(or leader of the early church for you silly Protestants) there was hope for anybody.