Thursday, January 8, 2009

Peter's Transformation

When I think about Peter in his early apostleship, I think of instability and impulsivity. There is a love for Christ, but he is very emotion-driven rather than conviction-driven. Jesus, however, even though He knew this, saw Peter for what He was going to do in and through Him. He saw him for what he would be, not what he was at the present time. The amazing thing about Peter’s life is that God took this man who was like a wave, driven and tossed by the winds, and He transformed him into the rock upon which He would build His church.
Peter responded to his failure in his denial of Jesus with grief, not like the grief of Judas, which lead to despair, but the grief that leads to repentance. He was indeed broken and contrite in spirit as a result of his sin, but he did not let that paralyze him. Satan would have loved to use this opportunity to create a deep shame that would forever separate Peter from Jesus. Peter’s grief led to repentance and humility that would make him more moldable and pliable in the master’s hand. I love how after Peter had denied Christ three times at the cross, Christ in his resurrection body gave Peter the opportunity to publicly acknowledge his love for Him three times as well. Peter’s expression of love for Christ is one of a deep, instinctive, personal affection for Christ as a close friend. Christ, when He is asking Peter if he loves Him, is referring to the love that is reasoning, intentional, spiritual devotion. Peter claimed that he loved Christ with passion and feeling. Christ was stretching him past the feeling (which is still vital) into the sphere of commitment and dedication. Peter’s calling would require patience and devotion, which would have to remain despite feelings. He would never be able to walk the path which Christ walked without this well-reasoned mind, set like a flint upon the will of his Father.
The rock that Peter would become would have to be solid, firm, unshaken, and immovable. When studying the Greek words for rock, I discovered the most amazing thing. One Greek word of rock is “Petra.” This word refers to Christ as the Rock, the Cornerstone. This Rock is a great mass of rock. The second Greek word for rock describes the calling that Peter had upon his life. This word, “petros,” is actually a detached stone or boulder. Peter was part of Christ. Christ ascended, the Petra went up to heaven. He left on this earth a petros by the name of Peter to represent Him and to spread His gospel.
Christ has called His followers to be “petroses.” We are to be chips off the old block, or in this instance, boulders off of the greater mass of rock. Peter would be the rock upon which Christ would build His church, but Peter’s firm foundation must be Christ, the Cornerstone. We have to be firm, immovable, rooted, and established in Christ, no matter what fleeting emotions may say. 1 Corinthians 15:58 says to “be firm, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” Always. We are to always be faithful. Peter had to recognize his own personal limitations through his denial of Christ to understand that the only way that he could be the rock that he was called to be was to be rooted in Christ. The path to steadfastness is brokenness, repentance, and surrender. Only then can we become boulders off of the greater rock of Jesus, with feet firmly planted in Him and His faithfulness. We are never rocks through our own strength. Philippians 4:13 says, “I have strength for all things in Christ who empowers me( I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency.”

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