Peter. What a guy. Faithful, inspirational, holy. Scared, sinner, dumb (did Jesus call him “Rock” because he was stable or because he was dumb as a rock?). In Peter we see it all.
In Luke-Acts especially we see some insight into the life of Peter. In his first appearance he falls before Jesus and exclaims “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” (5:8). Later on, he acclaims Jesus as “the Messiah of God” (9:20) but then goofs up at the transfiguration (9:28-36). Then of course it’s Peter who denies Jesus at his arrest and execution.
In Acts, though, we see a different character emerge. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, addresses the entire assembly of followers (1:15-26), preaches the first Christian sermon (2:14-36), and heals a crippled beggar (3:1-10). He passionately and powerfully proclaims the resurrection of Jesus and the good news of God’s Kingdom.
So what gives? How did Peter go from such a sketchy disciple to the leading voice of the early Christian community?
I believe that we can only attribute this to the work of the Holy Spirit. Peter is strengthened, empowered, and given authority by the Spirit.
It’s easy for us to read Luke-Acts and scratch your head at Peter’s character. He’s here, he’s there. He’s faithful, he’s not. But if you ever start getting down on Peter, look into a mirror.
Peter is us. We are faithful, we aren’t faithful. We’re committed, we’re not. And the only way that we can move forward is with the help of the Holy Spirit.