Saturdays With Simon Peter—Guide
This is a hermeneutical guide to the series I am writing about Simon Peter. In other words it is kind of a key for the reader to see the why and how the the general manner of Simon Peter’s maturity is meant for how anyone else may grow. One of the overarching principles I am taking is that the life of Peter being influenced by Jesus personally and then more via the Holy Spirit is for our benefit.
Here is the first principle that is a part of the bridge between the Peter’s formation and how Jesus wants to form us individually and as His Body: The New Testament should start in the gospel narratives when Jesus rose from the dead. Especially as a lifelong Protestant I have seen the Malachi the last writings that are part of the Old Covenant narratives. Then Matthew is seen as the first book in the New Covenant narratives.
However the cannon of scriptures affirmed by the early church was referred to as the Books of The New Testament. The difference in the semantics is significant because they did not see scripture as the change in the kingdom of God but the atonement and resurrection “who was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” (Romans 4:25) Where the lights really turn on with finality in God’s relationship with all mankind is where we are justified by the resurrection. That is the new timeline. Hate to ruin anyone’s Christmas but if Jesus being born was and “peace on earth” being declared was enough then everything after would be a meaningless controversial movie for Mel Gibson or anyone else to make. I say that because we equate with first guess of Jesus birth year to be such a game changer that our calendar is based on it as well as how the pages of the bible.
So what does this have to do with studying Simon Peter? It matters because Peter’s experience in formation is even more meant for a grand scale application because his spiritual formation is that of a man living in the Old Covenant. We already see types in the Old Testament that point to Jesus as well as Type experiences that lead us to see an experience with God for His Church that transcends the times in which they take place. Here is another example.
“I want you to know, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same supernatural[a] food 4 and all drank the same supernatural [b] drink. For they drank from the supernatural[c] Rock, which followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless with most of them God was not pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness.” 6 Now these things are warnings for us, not to desire evil as they did.” (1 Corinthians 10:1-6.).
“For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices which are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who draw near.” (Hebrews 10:1)
“Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” (Colossians 2:16-17).
We know that Jesus does not change so we do the changing. If we feel distant from God, who moved?
Okay, but why Simon Peter as a focus? Why not John? That is where I would go to the primacy of Peter in part of being a model first recipient and respondent of Jesus’ grace.
To better explain that, I would go to the choir contest. When I was in my high school choir in Beaverton, Oregon we had a choir concert competition. Our choir and several others performed for a very esteemed judge and he would give us corrective feedback in our private performances for him. He would give 1st place and so on to the choirs based on his opinion. I thought we did pretty well as was my bias for being in the group. He gave us little corrective feedback. One of the other choirs received lots of corrective feedback.
I was excited about our chances but then realized an “uh-oh”. Our choir director told us that the style of this judge was that the more potential he saw in a choir the more he would compliment it by seeing them on how they could change.
So to with Peter. We see him get the most of personal correction from Jesus who is the “Author and Perfector of our faith” (Hebrews 12:3). Jesus knew what he was doing. His instruction, encouragement and, yes, rebukes were a compliment to his calling as the first pope (For my Protestant brothers and sisters that raise their eyebrows like I once did at this, I will expand on that point at a later date).
But as another part of this spiritual formation flow that follows in these biblical narratives to Peter and applies to us believers corporately and individually I would call Simon Peter the honorary “second-born of the dead”. Jesus is the firstborn of a new creation but if Peter is then on the inside of God’s Church then partaking of that divine nature can be relatable since there are no second-class citizens in the kingdom of God. If he was not too good to know Jesus in the suffering then neither is anyone else that believes they are “called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:38)
Last, on what I hope is not taken with just head knowledge despite the temptation, I encourage the reader to take what is in this blog a renewed ethic of knowing Christ in humility and at times suffering. An elder Peter said that “For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God” (1 Peter 4:17). The Greek word for judgment is actually open for the broader interpretation of crisis since it is krisis and that is where we get crisis from. But to borrow from the other side of world, the Chinese call crisis an opportunity. As you see the areas of shaking or even suffering in Peter, allow the Holy Spirit to draw you to the embrace of the Father so you can with fuller knowledge say, “Change me.” He will.