Have you ever noticed that each and every person who played a part in the written account of scripture is, in one way or another, a mess? Some are bigger messes than others, but they are pretty much all, well, human.
Noah was a drunk. Moses was a murderer… and so was David. And David was also an adulterer. Esther lied about her heritage, and Sarah laughed at God’s promise of a son. Ananias and Sapphira took money from the church. Lot’s wife couldn’t let go of the past. Thomas doubted. Did I mention Judas already? I could go on. Issues. All God’s children got ‘em.
But one of my favorites from scripture is Peter. I can’t help having a soft spot in my heart for Peter. It’s probably because in many ways, I married a Peter. Strong. Confident. You know, sometimes like a bull in a china shop, only with good intentions. Yes, Peter was bigger than life, and Jesus saw something in him of value and chose him to be a part of His life and His ministry. Peter didn’t always get it right, but he took risks and always tried hard.
One of my favorite accounts of Peter was in the garden of Gethsemane. When Judas betrayed Jesus, and the soldiers closed in upon them, Peter drew his sword in defense of his Savior. If Peter had been aiming for the soldier’s ear, the fact that he lobbed it right off with just one swing is pretty impressive, but I’m guessing the “go big or go home” Peter of scripture was actually aiming for the guy’s head and missed. Most of the time the Peter in my imagination has a Carolina Panthers jersey on and has his face painted with the team colors.
An ear in the hand for most of us would just be icky. But for Jesus? It was an opportunity to do what Jesus did, and He made the soldier whole again. It also likely saved Peter’s life. No one stood against the Roman guard like that, but they couldn’t exactly arrest Peter for an ear that wasn’t cut off… anymore.
Peter had an imperfect faith. Like mine. Walk-on-the-water strong one minute, and sinking-below-the-waves weak the next. Lobbing off a soldier’s ear one day, and denying his faith to three different people on another day.
And yet, Peter had undoubtedly captured the heart of Christ. Jesus loved Peter in all of his reckless abandon… so much so, that after Jesus reappeared following his death, he took Peter and spent time alone with him. He restored the relationship, secured his faith once again, and in so doing chose the likes of Peter upon which to build His church. The likes of Peter. That’s really good news.
Why? Because Jesus didn’t require perfection. He required the faith of imperfect believers who would love Him enough, and love others enough, to build His Kingdom on the earth.
You see, Jesus is the real Cornerstone of the church, not Peter. Why do I say this? (Obviously, she’s lost her mind. Didn’t Jesus, himself, say to Peter, “Upon this rock I shall build my church?” Yes. He. Did.)
Check out 1 Peter… the letter written by Peter. Starting in verse four of Chapter 2, he declares who the Cornerstone of the Church really is. Peter declares it is actually Jesus. Go check it out… I’ll wait…
So why did Jesus say what He said to Peter as they shared that meal of fish, just the two of them, by the water? I believe it was to establish a pattern… one for which I am personally grateful. Peter was just the first misfit in a long line of misfits that would make up the Kingdom of God on earth. It started with Peter… right behind the Cornerstone, Jesus. Peter understood his position as a “living stone” in the foundation of the church… but he also called the rest of us “living stones” with him.
Don’t take it from me… Peter said it, and Peter got it right.
I think this should come as wonderful news to all of us. The Cornerstone sets the foundation for the rest of the construction. You want the Cornerstone to be perfect. Peter, as we have established, was not perfect. But our Cornerstone? The place where our faith begins? The power by which we live and breathe and have our being? Total perfection. We are secure in Christ alone… our Cornerstone. Jesus finds us useful for His Kingdom in the midst of our weaknesses because it is not through our own strengths that we are great, but through our identity in Christ that we stand as living stones.