What Happened to Peter?
Like Steve Runge, I identify with Peter. Not only am I encouraged by Peter’s missteps, foibles, and failures, but I’m also challenged by the post-resurrection dynamo that Peter becomes. For Peter, Jesus’ return changed everything; Peter is restored, commissioned, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. This brash fisherman who would hide and disassociate himself from Jesus (Mk 14:66-72) becomes the one who stands before the crowds on Pentecost—calling 3,000 people to repentance.
Peter, who had been hit-or-miss throughout the gospels, now gives one of the most impassioned sermons in the Scriptures. His message features this powerful testimony to the resurrection:
“Israelite men, listen to these words! Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—this man, delivered up by the determined plan and foreknowledge of God, you executed by nailing to a cross through the hand of lawless men. God raised him up, having brought to an end the pains of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” (Acts 2:22-24 LEB)
The imagery of death being unable to hold captive the Son of Man is beautiful. I love the way that Bertrand communicates it in the TDNT, “The abyss can no more hold the Redeemer than a pregnant woman can hold the child in her body.”
Resurrection: A Living Hope
Peter’s sermon shows that something dramatic, something supernatural, had happened inside of him. And Peter clearly communicates the origin of this change in the salutation of his first epistle:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead . . . (1 Peter 1:3)
Christ’s resurrection had changed everything; because of this, Peter overflowed with life-giving hope. This resurrection transformed Peter entirely, from his status before God (1 Peter 3:21) to his responsibility to others (1 Peter 1:22-23).
Easter is a good opportunity to ask myself important questions. Do I make decisions based on short-term gain or living hope? Am I still impacted and motivated by the resurrection, or, better yet, am I living in a way that only makes sense in light of the resurrection?
Peter’s life reminds me that the resurrection isn’t part of the Christian faith; it is the Christian faith. What reason do I have not to live boldly and courageously? I live on this side of the resurrection.
What does the resurrection mean to you?