Summary: This introduces the series on 1 Peter.
Today we begin a journey through this wonderful letter of 1 Peter. It is a rich piece of Scripture that has valuable teaching that will be very helpful for us as we live out our lives as Christians in the world today. I think we’ll see just how much it applies to us as we get deeper and deeper into it.
These two verses contain what is probably the highest concentration of Christian doctrine in all of Scripture. He hits on election, omniscience, sovereignty, sanctification, the atonement, the Trinity, maybe ecclesiology (study of the church) and maybe even more.
It will take us some time to get through this letter, perhaps several months, as we get to know the man who wrote it, and go through his teachings about Jesus Christ and how a life in Christ sustains us and helps us and gives us hope in this life.
When someone encounters Jesus Christ, he or she is changed. Last week we talked about what it means that Christ is alive and not in the tomb. We celebrated the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Once you have an encounter with Jesus Christ and come to believe in Him, that He is the Son of God and that He went to the cross to pay for your sins and that He died a substitutionary death in your place, and that He was resurrected from the dead and is risen, your life is changed. Your eternal destination is changed and the way in which you view the world is changed. You begin to hate the things you used to love and you begin to love the things you used to hate. Now instead of chasing after sin, sin begins chasing after you. Your old self has passed away and you are a new creation.
We’re going to get to know a man who had a tremendous change of life as a result of His encounter with Jesus Christ. His name is Peter.
Peter’s name is mentioned well over 200 times in the New Testament; more than Paul and more than all the other apostles combined. He was one of the inner circle, the three who were closest to Jesus; Peter, James and John.
In all the passages in the New Testament that lists the apostles; in Matthew, Mark, Luke and Acts 1, Simon Peter’s name comes first in the list. His given name was Simon and he was renamed Peter by Jesus Christ, so he’s often referred to as Simon Peter. Simon is his Hebrew name, Peter is the Greek name given to him by Jesus and Cephas is the Aramaic name. Peter and Cephas both mean rock. Peter the rock! Petros!
But he wasn’t a rock right away, was he? Peter made many mistakes along the way and fell short of who he was in Christ many times. We are never who we are in Christ’s eyes right away. He knows us and knows what we will become. He knows what we will become in Him. He is patient and loving and leads us and brings us along to become the people He has ordained us to be. When He regenerates us, we are assured of being perfected in Him in the time to come, but in the mean time, we have some sanctifying to do! None of us is perfect in our present condition, but like Peter was, we are being perfected day by day in Christ.
Peter was a native of Bethsaida, a village on the northeastern tip of the Sea of Galilee. He was a Galilean. His father was named John or Jonas and his brother was Andrew. And they were all fishermen. Andrew first followed Jesus and introduced Peter to Jesus.
Sometime after his marriage, he moved to Capernaum where he lived with his wife and her mother. (Matthew 8)
Peter walked with Jesus during Jesus’ ministry. He watched Him do healings and miracles. And he is perhaps best known for his ‘fly-off-the-handle’ kind of behavior. He would say things and react to things without thinking. He was the first to step out of the boat onto the water in the middle of the sea to meet Jesus. He drew his sword and cut off the ear of the temple guard when they came to seize Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Along with James and John, he was with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration when Jesus met with Moses and Elijah. And Peter is perhaps best known for denying Jesus three times when Jesus was arrested on the night before His crucifixion.
Peter, who walked with the Son of God and saw the love and the power of Jesus, denied Him in Jesus darkest hour, and had to live with that as he watched Jesus be crucified. He must have felt like such a failure.