In the Gospels Peter and Jesus address each other on a number of occasions. There is more spoken interaction on record between the two than between the Lord and any of the other disciples. Whatever the content of the conversations, favorable or disapproving toward the apostle, Jesus must have marked Peter out as a well-qualified representative of the Saviour’s sentiments and speech. We do well to observe and listen to him.
Jesus had the opportunity to equip Peter with special instruction that would hit home in a very personal way. The tenets and tone of the apostle’s ministry are exceedingly apt in touching a believer’s heart. There is the guarantee of profound authenticity in Peter’s every word. Not only is he a competent representative of Jesus to us, he is also representative of each one of us in the vulnerability of our sinfulness and frail humanity. We are creatures of fluctuation - from faith and fortitude to fear and folly. Deep down Peter the disciple is typical of every disciple of the Lord Jesus and that is why we find him to be such an agreeable spiritual companion. Our gravest faults, in God’s mercy, encounter great grace.
Peter, through bitter experience, learned the equivocation and evil of mankind’s nature. Those same shameful episodes in his life revealed the constancy and compassion of his Master. Human impulse and divine influence vied within him until he was shaped into the pastor and preacher God intended him to be. We attain spiritual maturity only very gradually, we are not conscious of it as a guard against pride, and we are always aware of our susceptibility to a fall if God should choose to show us what is in us.
In Peter’s contribution to the New Testament (the Gospel of Mark and his letters) there is discernible humility and much holy wisdom. He is sure of human weakness, divine strength and reliability, and the certainty of God’s protection of his people. He gained so much self-knowledge and knowledge of Christ in his extremely checkered career.
He could affirm the Messiahship and divine Sonship of the Lord Jesus (Matthew 16:16) and yet at the same time dispute the necessity of the Saviour’s death (16:22,23). He could vow total allegiance to the Christ and yet cravenly disown him (26:69-75). He could witness the matchless glory of the Son of God on the mount of transfiguration yet suggest undue honor to Moses and Elijah. He could watch Jesus calm the storm and command the waves (Matthew 8:23-27), but he mistrusted his sovereign power when Jesus bade him walk on the water towards him with enabling invitation to “Come” (Matthew 14:25-33).
Peter could question Jesus and be rebuked as dull (Matthew 15:15,16). Peter protested at Jesus’ desire to wash his feet (John 13:8). Peter lapsed into dejection and distraction (John 21:3) and even into doubt concerning Jesus’ attitude toward him in a post-resurrection appearance to the disciples by the lake (John 21: 15-23). Peter failed to adhere to the appreciation of the nature and generosity of the Gentile mission and was rebuked by Paul (Galatians 2:1-14).In his sinful mind and action Peter was so wrong on so many occasions. It is a warning to us in our moral fragility and an encouragement to us as to the kindness of Christ to ever-failing sinners. It is salutary for us to ponder this apostle’s paean of praise to God in his message to the elect of God (1 Peter 1:12). His grounds for gratitude, comfort, and joy in Christ are gloriously uplifting when our gaze is upon the accomplishment of the Son and the promises of the Father fulfilled in him “concerning this salvation” (1:10). Grace and peace be yours in abundance (1:2b).