“…behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
–Jesus and Peter’s conversation in Luke 22:31-32
Sometimes, it can be hard to identify with the characters in the Bible because they seem so flawless and perfect. That is not the case with Peter. The one believer in the Bible that is perhaps the most imperfect is Peter.
Peter lived an odd life, which makes him likely the easiest person to identify with in the Bible. Perhaps no one in all of Scripture is as unpredictable and volatile, impulsive and hyper-responsive as Peter the Odd (Matthew 14:28; Mark 14:29; Luke 5:8; John 21:7). His decision- making is, at times, reminiscent of a junior high kid who has not slept in a few days filled with espresso. If Peter were alive today, it would be guaranteed that cameras would follow him around filming his every word and deed as yet another hit reality television show.
If Peter were playing an instrument in a high school band, he would be the guy always hitting the wrong note at the worst time. If Peter were in the military, he’d be the one person guaranteed to end up marching out of formation. If Peter were on a sports team, he’d trip over his own feet at the most inopportune time.
Peter’s life is a roller coaster. On his worst days, he bossed Jesus around and denied even knowing Him. On his best days, he wrote two books of the Bible and, according to church history, was martyred by crucifixion for refusing to deny Christ. Peter asked his killers to turn his cross upside down because he did not believe he was worthy of dying as Jesus did. It’s an odd life when you go from denying Christ publicly to dying for Christ publicly.
Like most of us, Peter rarely got it right the first time, or even the second time. Once he does get it right, he’s prone to eventually get it wrong again. After failing miserably by denying Jesus Christ as a coward in the gospels, you’d think he’d have learned his lesson after seeing Jesus rise from death, appoint him as the head of a new global movement, and standing there likely with the same look as a basset hound that was just given the keys for a car to drive watching Jesus return to Heaven. Nope. By the book of Galatians, he’s a coward again, and to make matters worse, has also picked up racism additionally.
Despite the fact that Peter would not likely make it through Bible college today without getting kicked out, his shadow looms over much of the New Testament. In the four lists of the twelve apostles (Matthew 10:2–4; Mark 3:16–19; Luke 6:13–16; Acts 1:13), Peter is always mentioned first because he is their recognized leader after Jesus. As their leader, Peter also acts as spokesman for the Twelve when the need arises (Matthew 15:15; 18:21; Mark 1:36–37; 8:29; 9:5; 10:28; 11:21; 14:29; Luke 5:5; 12:41).
If there’s hope for Peter, there’s hope for anyone. If there’s hope for Peter, there’s hope for you. Peter was odd, but God was good. That’s the secret to Peter’s success. Like a loving wise dad with infinite patience, God’s grace grew and changed Peter, making him more like Jesus and less like the Hebrew version of Napoleon Dynamite, which is where he started. The secret to Peter’s greatness was God’s goodness.
To download the free e-book ODD LIFE: Good God which is a study in 1 Peter for individuals, groups, and families from Pastor Mark click HERE. To listen to Pastor Mark’s 9 sermons on 1 Peter preached in the summer of 2020, click HERE. These and other resources are made possible by our ministry partners who support Real Faith as a Bible teaching ministry of Mark Driscoll Ministries to whom we say THANK YOU!