Peter to whom Christ handed the keys to the Kingdom at first failed miserably, even denied Christ and following the Crucifixion seemed to prefer fishing to preaching. He was impulsive—not a good trait for any leader—cowardly at times, and had a tendency towards violence (think of poor Marcus’ ear which he lobed off) and was therefore, in my opinion, a most unlikely candidate for any form of leadership, certainly not that of handling the responsibility for the keys to the Kingdom.
Now, just think about it for a moment, would you have chosen Peter to be the inaugural speaker on the Day of Pentecost based on what you knew about him prior to that point? I think not. It doesn’t stop there either. If you were going to mention someone’s name more than that of another would you have picked Peter over Paul? Well, the facts are that Peter is mentioned more times in the New Testament than Paul. Think of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15—James presided, but Peter cast the deciding vote. Who would have ever imagined that based on what the Scripture tells us prior to the Resurrection?
We Pentecostals, I believe, love to vaunt the charisma of Paul—he gives us a basis for our theology that is his epistles are our refuge. Peter is kind of put on a side burner, as it were. Yet, it was Peter not Paul that was commissioned to introduce Christ to the Gentiles and it was he and that little band that went with him that gave testimony to the fact that even Gentiles was acceptable to God as evidenced by the fact that they received the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues.
I will confess, I have always been more fascinated with Peter than Paul. Perhaps, it is because I can really identify with Peter.
Not only can I identify with Peter, but I think that his epistles have a lot to offer us. I recall that during the short time that I pastored here in the States I seemed to gravitate towards first and second Peter, particularly Second Peter because he seemed to be so pastoral and practical—at least that is the way I saw it.
Well, all of that to say this,
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. (1 Peter 1: 1-2)
There are a couple of observations here that I would like to make.
Firstly, we must take into consideration that the author was not just an ordinary person who decided to send out a newsletter to a group of friends.
This was a special messenger, an Apostle, as a matter of fact many feel the chief Apostle commissioned by Christ. So, although on the surface it appears that it may have just been yet another newsletter or pastoral letter designed to cheer up the flock, it was not. The whole content of the letter was first and foremost God’s message, His letter to these men and women scattered throughout that part of the ancient world.
Secondly, we must also note these people had been scattered abroad—that is, as the original Greek indicates, they were sown, or scattered like dried leaves abroad without seemly a purpose. In other words, on surface it would appear that they were just more of the same nameless, and faceless people that struggle through life from day to day without an obvious purpose except to survive the best they can.
This is not the case, however. Notice it says in essence that God the Father was aware of their plight long before they were even born. He knew and He cared; therefore, He did what?
He set them aside for His holy purposes. He sanctified (that is set them aside for His holy purposes) by the Spirit. This was a spiritual matter, a spiritual decision. He knew what he was doing, even though at the time they may not have known and even complained of their circumstances.
So, one good thing we can learn about this is that nothing, absolutely nothing ever happens to us at random. God knows, and cares. So, we must be thankful. In that regards Peter writes (1 Peter 1:3-5):
“Let us thank the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was through His loving-kindness that we were born again to a new life and have a hope that never dies. This hope is ours because Jesus was raised from the dead. We will receive the great things that we have been promised. They are being kept safe in heaven for us. They are pure and will not pass away. They will never be lost. You are being kept by the power of God because you put your trust in Him and you will be saved from the punishment of sin at the end of the world. (1 Peter 1:3-5)
Then in the very next verse, we find that Peter says,
With this hope you can be happy even if you need to have sorrow and all kinds of tests for a while. (1 Peter 1:6)
Many times these ancient text leave us baffled. Well, we say to ourselves in this instance, I haven’t been scattered abroad in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia—as a matter of fact, I am not even sure where these places are, so how may this apply to me, today?
Well, first of all, you may feel that you are a nobody like these nameless Christians, just another Christian that lives in an insignificant little fishing village or that you are lost in the masses of a great city like New York, Dallas or Delhi.. A nobody. No purpose. Just flung as if by chance by the forces of fate and dropped without purpose in some small remote place, or lost in a forest of anonymous faces. But that is not true.
You have been chosen by God. You are someone important in His eyes. As a matter of fact, just like these people that we have read about today,
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10)
You may wonder, why you of all people was chosen? What is your mission in life? Is there any purpose? Well one of the salient reasons is found in verse 9 which was just quoted. You were chosen as God’s special possession
“[T]hat you may declare the praises of him that called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
That’s your purpose. Your purpose is to share with others what has happened to you, and help them understand that this great truth offers hope. The hope of a wonderful treasure that has been reserved in Heaven for us! (1 Peter 1:4)
That is the good news. The Gospel.