There was a huge ruckus in the church nursery caused by one little toddler who was telling all the other children what game they were going to play with how to play it. If they didn’t comply, by command they had to go to the far corner of the room. When this challenging child was picked up after services by the grandmother, the caregivers told of the child’s bad behavior. Her reply was priceless. “Yes, she has leadership potential all right!”
There will always be someone in any group of gathered people, no matter what age, who will rise to the top with an inside motivation, good or bad, obnoxious or appealing, pushy or persuasive, that others in the group are drawn to and defer to as the “leader”.
Peter, this rough and tumble fisherman, with little formal education, shoot from the hip problem solver, has leadership potential. Jesus recognizes Peter for who he is and what this man can become. Jesus knows his potential. Jesus knows our potential. When God formed us in the womb, Jesus was there. Hold that thought as we begin a study of Peter through his letters to the church. Read the gospels to explore the whole person of Peter, who gave up what he wanted to follow his leader, Jesus. There were many submissive lessons he had to learn before becoming who Jesus said he would be—The Rock. Why The Rock? Jesus told him where he was headed before he got there.
“Jesus came back, “God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are. You are Peter, a rock. This is the rock on which I will put together my church, a church so expansive with energy that not even the gates of hell will be able to keep it out.” Matthew 17:17-18, Msg
Eugene Peterson helps us to understand even more about Peter in his introduction to Peter’s letters. He writes;
“Peter’s concise confession—“You are Messiah, the Christ”—focused the faith of the disciples on Jesus as God among us, in person, carrying out the eternal work of salvation. Peter seems to have been a natural leader, commanding the respect of his peers by sheer force of personality. In every listing of Jesus’ disciples, Peter’s name is invariably first.”
“In the early church, his influence was enormous and acknowledge by all. By virtue of his position, he was easily the most powerful figure in the Christian community. And his energetic preaching, ardent prayer, bold healing, and wise direction confirmed the trust placed in him.”
“The way Peter handled himself in that position of power is even more impressive than the power itself. He stayed out of the center, didn’t ‘wield’ power, maintained a scrupulous subordination to Jesus. Given his charismatic personality and well-deserved position at the head, he could easily have taken over, using the prominence of his association with Jesus to promote himself. That he didn’t do it, given the frequency with which spiritual leaders do exactly that, is impressive. Peter is a breath of fresh air!”
“The two letters Peter wrote exhibit the qualities of Jesus that the Holy Spirit shaped in him: a readiness to embrace suffering rather than prestige, a wisdom developed from experience and not imposed from a book, a humility that lacked nothing in vigor or imagination. For what we know of the early stories of Peter, he had in him all the makings of a bully. That he didn’t become a bully (and religious bullies are the worst kind) but rather the boldly confident and humbly self-effacing servant of Jesus Christ that we discern in theses letters, is a compelling witness to what he himself describes as ‘a brand-new life with everything to live for’.”
With brand new life thinking, breathe in a fresh breath of air provided by the Holy Spirit through the writings of Peter inspired by God, driven by Jesus in him.
1 Peter 1, The Message
1-2 I, Peter, am an apostle on assignment by Jesus, the Messiah, writing to exiles scattered to the four winds. Not one is missing, not one forgotten. God the Father has his eye on each of you, and has determined by the work of the Spirit to keep you obedient through the sacrifice of Jesus. May everything good from God be yours!
A New Life
3-5 What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.
6-7 I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it’s your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory.
8-9 You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation.
10-12 The prophets who told us this was coming asked a lot of questions about this gift of life God was preparing. The Messiah’s Spirit let them in on some of it—that the Messiah would experience suffering, followed by glory. They clamored to know who and when. All they were told was that they were serving you, you who by orders from heaven have now heard for yourselves—through the Holy Spirit—the Message of those prophecies fulfilled. Do you realize how fortunate you are? Angels would have given anything to be in on this!
A Future in God
13-16 So roll up your sleeves, get your head in the game, be totally ready to receive the gift that’s coming when Jesus arrives. Don’t lazily slip back into those old grooves of evil, doing just what you feel like doing. You didn’t know any better then; you do now. As obedient children, let yourselves be pulled into a way of life shaped by God’s life, a life energetic and blazing with holiness. God said, “I am holy; you be holy.”
17 You call out to God for help and he helps—he’s a good Father that way. But don’t forget, he’s also a responsible Father, and won’t let you get by with sloppy living.
18-21 Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ’s sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. And this was no afterthought. Even though it has only lately—at the end of the ages—become public knowledge, God always knew he was going to do this for you. It’s because of this sacrificed Messiah, whom God then raised from the dead and glorified, that you trust God, that you know you have a future in God.
22-25 Now that you’ve cleaned up your lives by following the truth, love one another as if your lives depended on it. Your new life is not like your old life. Your old birth came from mortal sperm; your new birth comes from God’s living Word. Just think: a life conceived by God himself! That’s why the prophet said,
The old life is a grass life,
its beauty as short-lived as wildflowers;
Grass dries up, flowers wilt,
God’s Word goes on and on forever.
This is the Word that conceived the new life in you.
I was that child that needed to be taught how to lay down what I want for what you want to do in and through me. Continue to transform me to be all you created me to be. You know me. You see me better than I see myself. Lead me—for I want to be led. You are God. Only you are God. I am not. As long as I as live, here or there; I want to be led by You. I worship You alone. I trust in You alone. You are the Rock I cling to in brand-new life living.
In Jesus Name, for Your Glory, Amen