From the beginning, Peter was all in. Jesus said to leave everything, and he did. From early on, Peter said what he thought, when he thought it, and how he thought it. And the “it” was usually his opinion about how things should go. Jesus did not hesitate to set him straight.
During crucifixion weekend, bravado deserted him and he fell prey to his own impulsive myopia. “Save Jesus! Save yourself!” underscored both his use of his sword and his words. It was all he could see.
It is a testament to his brassy and hungry heart that he didn’t slink away, hiding, even though he knew he’d blown it badly. When the women came with miracle news, he was sitting with the other disciples. Probably, he was the first one out of his chair racing John to the tomb. And, of course, he drew his own conclusions about that too.
After the conversation with Jesus on the beach, the triple questioning and reassuring of his place, I find it unsurprising but a bit shocking that his next words are, “So, what about John?” So much for entering that deep moment with Jesus!
If I had just had the “Do you love me?” talk with Peter (complete with giving a glimpse into his future), I would have wanted a response that showed I had been heard. Somehow, I don’t think Peter’s concern about what John was going to get in the end quite conveyed that kind of attunement with Jesus. His preoccupation with something other than the moment could have easily irritated or frustrated me. Or it’s entirely possible I would have written him off as not having heard me, not paying attention, and thus not being affected by what I had said.
But Jesus didn’t do that. Instead, he told Peter to mind his own business and follow him. The next time we hear from Peter, Jesus is ascended, and Peter is taking charge of the newly birthed church.
I wonder how often we tolerate the “Peters” of our lives rather than envision them? Jesus’ love for Peter wasn’t blind. It was not nostalgic. Rather, it was rooted in his vision of who he knew Peter to be. His interactions flowed from a deep awareness of Peter’s state. His directions originated in wisdom knowing just how much to push and when. That’s a far cry from tolerating. But that kind of vision takes time. We must come to know people, to see past the brash, often irritating way they come at life. We have to take stock of how it impacts us and where we get all inwardly ruffled because “they’re not doing it right.”
But when we offer vision, rooted in humility, and steeped in wisdom, we see God’s work in those whom we thought weren’t listening. And it’s amazing. Transformation, hinted at all along, becomes reality. Oh, that we would rise and rise again as an envisioning people…the kind who see gold in what looks like brass.