35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” 39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.
40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter[a]). John 1:35-42
As a sort of protest and antidote to so much of the acrimony that goes on through social media throughout the pandemic I have been posting puns and word’s plays on my FaceBook page. I feel I am in good company as in the passage above Jesus uses a pun, or word play. Jesus talks about Peter being a rock, a word play on the Greek word for rock. But this is not Jesus attempt at “humour” he is making a serious point. Jesus was saying that Peter and his faith in Jesus would be part of the foundation of this new messianic movement that he was forming.
Of course, that must have sounded as a bit of joke to the other followers of Jesus because we know from reading the Gospels that Peter was far from being “rock solid” material at this point in his life and several years thereafter. When it came to following Jesus Peter often wobbled like a jelly rather than acting like a dependable and immovable rock. Over the next couple of years Peter didn’t exactly come across as leadership material as a follower of Jesus. On a fairly consistent basis he misunderstood, tried to manipulate and eventually spectacularly let down, Jesus .
What I am struggling to get my head around is the fact that if Jesus is God incarnate, and I believe He is, then however much he was limited by his humanity, He must still have had a fair insight into Peter’s character and what was to happen in the future including the whole cock crowing incident. Yet despite knowing Peter’s faults and failings Jesus still chose to invest in him. It seems to Jesus Peter’s potential was greater than his faults and failings. Jesus called Peter to become a rock, to become what he could only be through following Him.
Jesus believed in Peter despite the misunderstandings, despite all the times he put his foot in his mouth, despite his hot headed temper and despite those words of denial. Jesus believed Peter could become what he had called him to be, a foundational figure in his church, in his revolutionary movement. That’s just what Peter eventually became, his life became an expression of Jesus ability to transform a human life surrendered to his cause.
I don’t know about you but I some times fret about my faith, about the strength and quality of my belief in Jesus. I also at times plum the depths of despair as I confront my own faults and failings in following Jesus. What I am reminded of today through these words of Jesus to Peter is that Jesus believes in me too. He has called me and believes that I can become what he has called me to be. Despite being as equally aware of my acts of denial and the cracks in my character as He was with Peter Jesus also still called me and therefore believes in me.
After reading this I am left thinking that as Christ followers, just like Peter we can either allow ourselves to be shaped by our past, our personality and our problems or by the potential that Jesus sees in us when He calls us. Personally, I am reminded that Jesus believed in me enough to call me to be, salt and light, to be a fisher of men, to go into the world as He was sent by His father, now fulfilling that kind of potential truly is a life worth living.