Conversations with Peter. Stepping Up and Out

What happens when your story comes full circle?   You start a new story.   A new Journey.   A different path.   That’s what happened with Peter.  After 3 years of conversations with Jesus which culminated in Peter denying Jesus and then Jesus restoring him in almost the same way HE called him, Peter begins the process of becoming the man that Christ new he would become.  Life is a process.   JESUS sees who we are, who we were, and who we can become and HE brings us the opportunities and challenges that will bring us into that change.   Now, let’s be honest here….we still have the choice of who we become by how we respond to the challenges.   If we run from the challenges then the possibility that we become someone less then what GOD desires are pretty high.   Could GOD still use us?? Of course HE can, but when we respond to GOD in a way that is obedient and humble and face the challenges with the confidence that GOD is walking with us through them, then we grow into  a person that is a tool and a weapon that CHRIST can use.   This is exemplified in Peter.   In the beginning we saw a young man with more bluster and bravado then actual sense and courage, he didn’t know when to shut up, didn’t have a clue about proper timing, and was constantly sticking his foot in his mouth.   The ultimate in awkward.   Now, we begin to see the change.    How three years with the Savior and many lessons, lectures, and life moments with Jesus changed him into the man that CHRIST called The Rock.   It all began in a room.

Some background first:

Acts 1

 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.”

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

After the resurrection, Jesus spent 40 days with the disciples and the apostles teaching them and preparing them for their “graduation”.    It culminated in Jesus ordering them to return to Jerusalem to wait on the Holy Spirit and then HE was gone ascending into Heaven before their eyes.   Seems like a great science fiction story doesn’t it?  That part is hard to wrap our heads around, but I believe it.  It was at this point that Peter begins to step up his game.   They go back to Jerusalem and the hard part begins:  The waiting. Jesus said that they should wait for THE HOLY SPIRIT, but HE didn’t say when THE HOLY SPIRIT would come.   That  typical of CHRIST.   When HE says to wait, HE doesn’t provide  with the schedule, it’s in HIS timing, not ours and that is frustrating.  However, waiting doesn’t mean doing nothing, waiting is a time of preparation and praying, and that’s what the disciples did.

Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk[c] from the city. 13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.

15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16 and said, “Brothers and sisters,[d] the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. 17 He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.”

18 (With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19 Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)

20 “For,” said Peter, “it is written in the Book of Psalms:

“‘May his place be deserted;
    let there be no one to dwell in it,’[e]

and,

“‘May another take his place of leadership.’[f]

21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”

2So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.

So, the disciples returned to Jerusalem, to the upper room where they first saw Christ resurrected and they prayed.    They also did business.    You can almost say this was the first church business meeting ever recorded.   In this meeting, Peter stood up and presided over the meeting.   They had to replace Judas to round out the 12 apostles and they had to decide on the criteria for that choice.   It’s recorded that 120 people were at this meeting, to include women.   That’s a large body of people to choose from, but the criteria was pretty structured.   There were only two:  1.  Had been with them from the time of Christ’s baptism, 2.  Had been with them at the resurrection.  That narrowed the field to two men and then through prayer and passing the hat, and Matthias was chosen.     This is a fascinating passage to me for some reason.   These two men had been with them the whole time, yet weren’t chosen by Christ to be the original 12.   Not much is known about these men, but I’m sure they were faithful and during Christ ministry on earth probably yearned for more then being background disciples.   Now, they have a chance, but only one of them.   In this instance, I can identify with Joseph on this one.   He came close to being an original apostle, and then he came close to being a replacement apostle, but someone else was chosen both times.   I’ve been there.   Been close to being chosen for…..yet, someone else gets it.   I’m sure Joseph probably handled it better than I have, but we don’t know because nothing more is mentioned of him in the BIBLE.    My hope is that he went on to become a faithful member of the Jerusalem church, or maybe he moved on to another city, who knows, when I get to HEAVEN, I’ll have to find him and find out what happened, but I’m sure it was a huge disappointment for him.  The focus, however is Peter.   Peter stepped up and led.   It is from this point on that Peter takes a leadership role in the Jerusalem church, changing from a man without a clue, to a man with a mission.   But still, not yet.   At this point they’re still waiting, still praying, still meeting, and still preparing.   They don’t know when, where, or how the HOLY SPIRIT will come, they just know that CHRIST had promised HE would come, and that was good enough for them.  Is it good enough for us?  For me?   In our times of waiting, do we trust HIM enough to shut up and listen, prepare, pray and meet with others?  That’s a very good question.  One I struggle with daily.

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