Text: 1 Peter 1:1-2, Matthew 16:13-19, John 1:35-42, John 13:36-38
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…
– 1 Peter 1:1, NASB
My mother-in-law is the proudest mother and grandmother on earth. We love that about her. My husband jokes that if he were in prison, his mom would brag to all her friends that he was the best inmate in his cellblock.
It feels good to be loved and prized so fiercely. But we on the receiving end of such admiration know ourselves too well to believe all the hype.
I wonder how Peter felt when Jesus gave him his new name (John 1:52). “You are Peter [which, in the Greek, means rock], and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). Say what now?
Some say Christ is referring to Himself here, for He, indeed, is the Cornerstone on which the Church is built (Mark 12:10). Others say the “rock” refers to believers as a collective, individual stones that make up the Church. But many maintain the rock is Peter, the representative apostle whose strength and stability are imparted only by The Rock, Jesus. Whatever your interpretation, the name is bold. What if Jesus named you Rock? Would you feel the name fit?
I imagine Peter was a good man. Hard working and honest, a good friend and, yes, maybe even a son a mama could brag to her friends about. But a rock? Or the rock? Come on now, Jesus. That seems a little extreme. The guy is just a regular ole fisherman, and later on he’s going to deny even knowing you! (Yes, this is present-day Me talking to the Savior of Man as if He is confused. Admit it—you’re thinking the same thing.)
This is why I have fallen head over heels in love with these letters from Peter the apostle. Not only do they deliver essential encouragement and admonition to the Church, they are gospel reminders spoken by a product of the Gospel himself. Peter is sold out to spreading the message of Jesus Christ because he has lived it. He walked alongside the Savior, followed Him throughout His ministry, saw the miracles and the death, resurrection, and ascension as they happened. He knows the story of the Church because it is his personal story.
When Peter says, “Your inheritance in Christ will never fade,” it’s not hearsay, it’s personal testimony.
When he says, “Don’t listen to the liars; they want to destroy you but Jesus gives you life,” he remembers how those same voices tried to woo him, too.
When Peter tells us that we, the Church, can rejoice in our suffering, he says so as one who watched the Son of Man suffer in real-time on the cross, bearing the sins of you and me and a Jesus-following, Jesus-denying wreck of a man named Peter.
In the letters of 1 & 2 Peter, we get to hear from someone with firsthand experience what it means to be an apostle, what it is like to be called and discipled by Jesus, to vow faithful yet prove fickle, to be used in the service of the Lord and growth of the Kingdom in spite of his flaws and tendencies to wander. In the end he would die a martyr’s death, giving his life for Jesus’s name like he promised he would.
Peter has tested the Gospel of Jesus and found it to be imperishable, undefiled and unfading.
Let’s lean in and listen as he writes to the persecuted churches of Asia Minor and to us, nearly 2000 years later.
Soften our hearts, Father, as we hear from your servant, Peter.
Come, Holy Spirit, as we seek to understand the Truth of your Word.
Help us, Lord, to encounter You in the coming weeks and, with renewed conviction and assurance, introduce ourselves followers of Jesus.