How does a hardy, Galilean, son of a fisherman go on to become the stand out leader of an emerging Jewish sect, called “The Way”? How does one, who, not so much as getting tongue twisted, tends to get both feet in his mouth, stand up in front of a crowd of thousands and explain that their promised Messiah has come and gone, and they didn’t recognise Him?
I’ve just finished reading the gospels as a block and I’m making headway into Acts. Like never before, I am struck by the character of Peter. The Peter of The Gospels is an enthusiastic, try hard, follower of Jesus, but ultimately someone who doesn’t fully get it. He never quite seems to grasp who Jesus is or His mission. This despite three years under Jesus ministry.
Think of all the things he must have seen and heard. Teaching, like never before, with understanding, insight and authority. Teaching which he also saw embodied and lived out through Jesus’ life and interactions with those He met. Miracles, which must have baffled and amazed even the disciples who witnessed these throughout Jesus’ ministry. Countless more too, as John 21:25 reminds us.
Considering Peter has given me pause for thought. What changed between the Peter of the Gospels and the Peter in Acts? In Acts 1:8, I think we have our answer. Jesus tells the disciples, “..you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” When the Holy Spirit fills the Apostles they are transformed and empowered to achieve God’s calling on their lives.
Peter “gets it.” When we step into Acts, the Peter we find is a changed man. In his heart and his mind there has been a transformation. The same one who said of Jesus “I don’t know Him!” is now found preaching in the temple courts. Peter looks to have become “the rock” on which Jesus promised to build his church.
This same Holy Spirit is available to us today. We are invited, even urged, to be filled with this Holy Spirit (Eph. 5:18-20). If we dare to, we are accepting the same transforming power that took Peter from fearful to fearless. An active partner in God’s plan. Bringing His Kingdom and showing The Way.