This post is part of the Holy Week 2013 series.
One of the things I love about Peter is his out-loud way of living.
He takes the lead in so many of the scenes recorded in the gospels between Jesus and his disciples. He’s the one who steps out of the boat to walk on water to meet Jesus in the ocean in the dead of night (Matt. 14:25-32). He’s the one who declares out loud who he believes Jesus to be — the real and true Messiah — before anyone else breathed a word of it (Matt. 16:13-20).
Even when he’s misguided, Peter lives out loud.
Like when he tells Jesus he’d be willing to die for him (John 13:37), but Jesus tells him otherwise, saying that Peter will have denied even knowing Jesus before the next morning dawns. Or when Jesus washes the disciples’ feet and Peter protests that Jesus should kneel and serve him in that way. Jesus tells him this must happen, so Peter course-corrects and says, “Then wash also my hands and my head!” (John 13:5-9). Or when the guards and Roman soldiers and religious leaders infiltrate the garden to arrest Jesus, and Peter draws out his sword and cuts of the right ear of one of them. Jesus redirects Peter’s aggression and impulsivity by telling him to put his sword away (John 18:10-11).
Over and over, Peter speaks his mind and acts with complete abandon. And a lot of the time, especially as recorded in John’s gospel of the last days of Jesus, he thinks he knows himself and the need of each moment.
But he really doesn’t.
He doesn’t know himself.
He doesn’t know the full way and intent of Christ.
And yet, there’s Jesus. Redirecting him. Teaching him. Correcting him. Telling him the truth. And most of all, staying with him through it — and even beyond. When he and Peter have that famous encounter on the beach in the aftermath of it all, Jesus takes him aside and talks with him with patience and even more forgiveness. “Do you love me?” he asks Peter three times, letting Peter respond to the best of his ability (John 21:19).
And then he gives Peter more responsibility, telling him to feed and tend the flock of believers.
I think one of the reasons I love watching Peter in all his brazenness is because I love seeing the response of Jesus.
Despite Peter’s presumption and lack of real knowledge of himself and the intent of Christ, Jesus never pushes him away. He never sneers at Peter or shames him for being a bit off-base. Instead, he keeps moving toward Peter — and not just moving toward him, but also trusting him with things to do and leadership.
It tells me that Jesus isn’t exasperated with us in our ignorance. It tells me he can handle giving responsibility to people who don’t have it all figured out and don’t do all things perfectly.
I love Jesus even more when I see his love for Peter.
It tells me about his love for me.