Although Peter was an exemplary apostle in many ways, I can’t help but compare him to Paul. Initially both were reluctant followers of Jesus. However, after Saul/Paul was blinded by a vision of Jesus on the road to Damascus and later cured he was totally committed to sharing the Good News. There is a theory that Paul spent three years in the Arabian Desert being taught by Jesus one-on-one. Paul was not at all timid in proclaiming the death and resurrection of Jesus and did not wait for permission from the church in Jerusalem to preach the message to the Gentiles. Peter seems to have hung back and all too often looking for approval from his fellow early church leaders. That said, Paul is a subject for another time. So back to Peter.
We learned early on that Peter was very outspoken and as CM says “Would often shoot from the hip.” He did showed great courage in his attempt to walk on water and then lost faith necessitating been given a hand by Jesus himself.
At the time of the arrest of Jesus Peter sliced off the ear of a slave, perhaps an act of bravado rather than true bravery. After Jesus was taken away Peter had time to be more analytic and less than courageous. As Jesus had predicted, Peter denied knowing Jesus three times before the cock crowed twice. Here Peter was thinking in the flesh rather that in his spirit.
After the resurrection and the later impartation of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Peter became a much convicted apostle capable of performing miracles; even Peter’s shadow could heal. The passage I like so well is from Acts 3:6, “Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.”
From Peter we learn that our human nature and the will to survive can cause us to fall from grace. The really good news is that repentance brings forgiveness. Shortly before the assumption of Jesus to heaven He shared breakfast with the disciples. Jesus allowed Peter to overcome his fall from grace. John 21:17, “He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.”
Three denials of Jesus followed by three affirmations, truly, there is great hope for all of us who are repentant sinners.