I’ve been reading Acts with Jeremy at night and then rereading Luke in my own quite time. As I read, I have been confused by the two different Peters I see. The one in Acts is a bold leader who will do anything for Christ. The one in Luke is uncertain at times, misunderstands, and bold, but not always in the right way.
It got me to thinking, why is there this huge difference? Yes, the apostles received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, but its got to be more than that. I mean, we have been promised that same Spirit and He lives in us, but I don’t see many of us as that kind of bold, fearless leaders. (That’s another talk altogether).
So I searched through the Gospels and Acts to see where, besides Pentecost, a change may have occurred. Three places jumped out at me.
When they are eating the Passover just before Jesus is crucified, Jesus tells Peter that he will deny him, but Peter denies it vehemently. Peter even goes as far as to cut off a servant’s ear when the initial arrest takes place, and even though he’s rebuked by Jesus, Peter still follows at a distance.
Then the denial takes place. Peter’s boldness from a few hours before is gone, and in it’s place is left someone who is scared. But as Peter denies Jesus the final time, Jesus looks at him. I can’t imagine how much the realization of what he had just done hurt Peter.
Next the crucifixion takes place, and we can probably assume Peter witnessed some if not all of it. Though, he still wasn’t quite sure what it all meant.
Finally, he meets Jesus by the sea. At this point Peter has gone back to fishing. He and the others had again been out all night and caught nothing. Then Jesus shows up on the shore, tells them to throw their nets out, and once again they have more fish than they know what to do with. Peter then, recognizing Jesus, jumps into the water and swims to shore.
After they eat breakfast on the beach, Jesus takes a walk with Peter and three times asks him to feed his sheep. To which Peter replies that he will. It is here that Peter truly experiences Jesus mercy, grace, and forgiveness. He had a head knowledge before, but after this encounter, Peter now has a heart knowledge.
Jesus had said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Jesus did this, but when the chance came, Peter ran away. Now Peter has a second chance. Jesus in a sense says, “No, Peter, you’re not to go back to fishing. I still need you and want you for me.”
This encounter changes everything.
As we begin our study this fall of Luke 17-24, I’m praying the same for us. I’m praying that as we walk the road to the cross over the remaining seven weeks, we’ll encounter Jesus’ grace, mercy, and forgiveness in a personal way. I want to be different, and I’m praying the same for you.
God, please allow us to encounter you through this study. Help us to gain a deeper understanding of what our sin cost you and the depth of your grace, mercy, and forgiveness for us. Because, God, I just don’t get it. I know I don’t. And I want to. I so desperately want to get it to my core, so I will be sold out for you like Peter was, willing to walk whatever road you call me, call us, to. In Jesus’ name, Amen.