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13. Peter
13.1 Peter’s Conversion || 13-1-1 Peter The Rock || 13-1-2 Peter Our Example || 13-1-3 Peter's Coversion || 13-2-1 Peter And The Cross || 13-2-2 Peter And Quo Vadis? || 13.3 Peter’s Preaching: 13-3-1 Peter’s Preaching || 13-3-2 Peter And The Stone Of Daniel 2 || 13-3-3 Peter's Realization Of Sinfulness || 13-3-4  Appreciation Of Christ’s Exaltation || 13.4 Peter The Shepherd: 13-4-1 Peter The Shepherd || 13-4-2 Peter And The Judaizers || 13-4-3 The Letters Of Peter || 13-5-1 Peter And Christ || 13-5-2 Peter And The Titles Of Christ || 13-6 Peter: Bible Student || 13-7 Walking On Water


13-1-2 Peter Our Example

Peter is set up as our example and pattern. The records portray him in such a way that we see so clearly the similarities between him and us. The good intentions, the flashes of zeal, the miserable failures, the essential loyalty to the Man who was better than he. The Gospels also portray Peter as the representative of the group of disciples. It is Peter who answers when the Lord asks a question of them all (Mk. 8:29 cp. the other accounts). The way Jesus looks upon all the disciples as He speaks to Peter makes Peter some kind of representative of them all in the Lord’s eyes (Mk. 8:33). In Mt. 16:17 Peter is commended for having had the Father reveal Jesus to Him. Yet Mt. 11:27 says that the Father reveals the identity of His Son to all who truly come to Him. Thus Peter is representative of all who have truly perceived the Son’s identity in Jesus of Nazareth.

In one Gospel, all the disciples ask a question, while in the parallel passage Peter is stated to have asked it (Mk. 7:17 cp. Mt. 15:15 and Mt. 21:20 cp. Mk. 11:21). Even outsiders considered Peter to be representative of all the disciples (Mt. 17:24). “Peter and those with him” is how the group is described (Mk. 1:36; Lk. 8:45 Gk.; 9:32). Peter’s crucial confession that he believed that Jesus was the Son of God is repeated almost verbatim by all the disciples, some time later (Jn. 6:69; 16:30). He is truly the representative disciple.

When about to drown, Peter our example called out: “Lord, save me” (Mt. 14:30); and He was saved. When he later preached to the crowds, he encouraged them to likewise call upon the name of the Lord and be saved (Acts 2:39). He saw himself then and there, in all his weakness and yet sincere desperation, as the epitomy of us all. But the parallels don’t stop there. Peter had asked the Lord bid him ‘Come unto me’ (Mt. 14:28). Yet this is the very language of the Lord to all: ‘Come unto me...’. Yet Peter went further; in the same way as the Lord stretched forth His hand and saved Peter, so He stretches forth His hand, Peter observed, to save all who would come to Him (Mt. 14:31 = Acts 4:30). But Peter is framed as Jesus, in that he too stretched out his hand to save others as Jesus had done to him (Mt. 14:35 = Acts 5:15,16; Mt. 14:31 = Acts 3:7), bidding them come through the water of baptism as Jesus had done to him. As Jesus was worshipped after saving Peter, so men tried to worship Peter (Mt. 14:33 = Acts 3:11). So Peter went through what we all do- having been saved by Jesus, having come to Him and having been rescued by the outstretched arm, he responds to this by doing the same for others. When the Lord “caught” hold of Peter as he sunk in the waves (Mt. 14:31), a Greek word is used which occurs only once elsewhere: “He did not take hold [s.w. to catch] of Angels, but of the seed of Abraham” (Heb. 2:16). The Hebrew writer was surely alluding to the Lord’s ‘catching’ of desperate Peter and pulling him to salvation- and saw in Peter a symbol of all those who will be saved by Christ.

The evolution of Peter’s spirituality was influenced by a growing appreciation of the Lordship of Jesus, of His grace, and the real import of His cross. But fuelling this dynamic was an ever deeper realization of his own personal sinfulness. This was and is crucial for every man in Christ.

“When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Lk. 22:32) found its’ fulfilment in the Lord’s interview with Peter in Jn. 21. Three times He asks him: ‘do you love me?’, and three times he invites Peter to care for the lambs and sheep- to strengthen his brethren. The triple denial and the triple re-enstatement and triple confession of love both occurred by a fire, a charcoal fire on each occasion (Jn. 18:18; 21:9) just to heighten the evident connection. Peter’s conversion can therefore be equated with his response to the denials- the repentance, the realization of his own frailty, and desperate acceptance of the Lord’s gracious pardon. Yet Peter invites his fellow elders: “feed the flock of God”, repeating the Lord’s commission to him, as if he saw in himself a pattern for each man who would take any pastoral role in Christ’s ecclesia. The implication is that each man must go through a like conversion. And Peter points out that we are “a royal priesthood”, as if he saw each believer as a priest / pastor. Peter is our example. We all deny our Lord, camoflauge it and justify it as we may. We all stand in Peter’s uncomfortable shoes. We do in principle what Judas did.