Dear Peter {Day 1}

1 Peter

(Today is the first day we begin studying 1 Peter! Read more about how you can follow along here!)

"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 ESV}

Dear Simon Peter,

As I've read how you followed Jesus immediately when he called you, and then you later walked on water by faith to your Savior, and how you confessed your belief in Christ in front of the other disciples, I applaud you for your bold, steadfast trust in the Messiah! I, too, confessed Christ to be my Savior when I was a young girl and immediately began following Him. As I began to walk with Jesus, my life began to look different from the world. Just like Jesus told you that you would no longer be a fisher of fish, but a fisher of men, He began to show me that I would have the same call. So often, I would confess Jesus as Lord at church, and then not say a word about Him at school. I remember raising my hands in worship for the first time at a youth event. The higher my hands got into the sky, the bolder my heart became to tell the world that I loved Jesus. I kept my arms raised until they ached and were sore the next day. Even in my soreness, I remembered the sweet moments of boldly worshipping Christ.

I also completely understand how you felt when you were walking on water. At first you were so brave to step out of the boat onto the water, but when the waves began to splash onto your legs and the darkness covered the face of Jesus, fear began to weigh you down and make you sink. I, too, have been distracted by the waves around me and began to sink because of my shrinking faith in Jesus.Peter, we both know what it's like to have the Savior grasp our hand at just the right moment to save us! What a good God we serve. He never lets us sink all the way. But he does let us sink a little to strengthen our faith and trust in Him.

And, oh, Peter, when I read about you denying Christ, my heart cries out, "No! Don't do it!" But then Christ reminds me of my sinful state. He reminds me that while I was dead in my transgressions, Christ died for me. Jesus knew you would deny Him, and He knew that I would too without His ransoming my soul. I, too, need the blood of Christ to wash me clean from the sins I have committed. I have sinned in ways that I have shocked myself before, only to weep just like you did. But, Peter, Jesus died for us! He has forgiven us of our denials, of our transgressions and our doubt! God has given us a second chance because His grace is greater than any sin we have ever committed!

When Jesus asked you if you loved Him with an agape (unconditional) love and you responded with a phileo (brotherly) love, I am reminded that Jesus doesn't call us to a mediocre, half-hearted life. He calls us to follow Him with reckless abandonment and to love Him with every ounce of our being. Three times He asked you, "Simon, son of John, do you love (agape) me?" (John 21:15b) Oh, Peter, you ended up proving your agape love for Christ when you were martyred. Not only that, but you were martyred upside down because you knew that you weren't worthy to be killed the same way Jesus was crucified. Peter, I want to love Jesus with an agape love, too. I want to give my life to follow Him anywhere and do anything for Him. Your life reminds me that God gives us second chances. He doesn't leave us where we are, but He always calls us to more.

So I thank you, Peter, for giving me an example of one who followed Christ to the end. I, too, want to leave a legacy like that.

your sister,

Gretchen

Simon Peter, the author of the epistle of 1 Peter, is just like you and me. I hope that as you read my letter to Peter, that you recognized yourself in many of those situations. As I studied the events of his life that are recorded in the Bible, I was reminded over and over again that God's grace covers our lack of faith, our doubt, our discouragement and our fear. It is not by our might that we follow Christ whole-heartedly, but by the power of the Holy Spirit in us! We will see this happen in Peter's life!

Before we begin studying Peter's letter to the church, let's get to know him a little better. When you read Scripture, you will also see him called Simon or Simeon. (Acts 15:14) He was born in Bethsaida on the sea of Galilee and was naturally raised to become a fisherman. He also had a brother named Andrew who was a fisherman and would also become a follower of Jesus. (Matthew 4:18) In John 1:35-43, we see where Andrew brings Peter to meet Jesus. It is in this life-changing moment that Peter decided to follow Jesus, and Jesus gave him the new name Cephas, which in the Greek meant stone or Rock. His new name was a picture of what Peter would become in the church. When we become followers of Christ, he gives us a new identity and we literally become a new creation, as II Corinthians 5:17 describes.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." (II Corinthians 5:17)

"But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel, 'Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.'" (Isaiah 43:1, emphasis mine)

Seattle, Washington
Seattle, Washington

In Matthew 16:18, Jesus declares to Peter that He will "build His church" upon Him. This is another significant event in Peter's life. Peter's faithfulness to follow this promise of God has affected us today as the church. Have you ever felt God calling you to do something that was crazy? Something that could ONLY be done by His power, His might and His work? Sister, know that when the calling of God seems too big, that you are in just the right place. God is most glorified in the most impossible situations.

However, it is not long after Peter's call that he denied Christ three times in a row. (Matthew 26:69-75) As Jesus, the Messiah, was being betrayed and sentenced to the cruelest death, Peter was denying the One who had saved him. Before you begin to think "How awful of Peter to do such a thing!", be reminded that you, too, were once dead in your transgressions and denied Christ. It is because His love is bigger than our denials and our sin that we can be His children. His blood literally paid the highest price to buy us back for His glory. (Ephesians 2:1-10)

After Jesus rose again from the dead, He called Peter once more to follow Him. This time, the calling was to his death. In John 21:15-19, we see that Jesus called Peter three times to love Him with an agape (unfailing, eternal) love. After Peter responds three times that he loves Jesus with a phileo (brotherly) love, Jesus tells him that he will die a martyrs death. Can you imagine how Peter must have felt? We know that later Peter would be crucified on a cross upside down. Even though he once denied Christ three times as He was about to bear a cross that bore that very sin, he would one day die the same death to the glory of God.

We can learn from Peter's life that God glories in second chances.He doesn't give up on us when we lack faith as the storms of life rage around us and we begin to sink into the waters. He doesn't allow us to live as mediocre, half-hearted followers. He calls us to more -- to reckless abandonment and agape love. Sister, wherever you are in your walk with Jesus, know that He loves you more than the sins you've committed. He uses the unqualified for His Kingdom work. The blood of Christ that washes you of your sin qualifies you to be a servant of God. Peter would later lead the church and help spread the Gospel to the Gentiles. He would stand for Christ before councils and proclaim that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. (Read one of his sermons in Act 2:14-36)

Seattle
Seattle

In the book of Acts, we see that Peter would preach the Gospel to thousands of people and eventually be imprisoned for his faith and then released miraculously by angles (Acts 12:1-11). He was no longer ashamed of the Gospel, but was instead was a leader in the Church. As a follower of Christ, God will grow your faith even through your mistakes. It is His will that you be used by Him for the spread of the Gospel throughout the entire world. Now that is an incredible calling! May we live in the grace of God today.

Let's do a quick recap of today's study:

  • Who wrote 1 Peter? The Apostle Peter
  • Who did he write the book to? The "elect exiles" of the Dispersion. This refers to Jews who were scattered across Gentile countries. Peter's message was for both Jews and Gentiles and was to encourage them in Christ. The believers were getting confused, discouraged and distraught at persecution and trials. Peter refers back to Christ's example of how we should respond to these situations throughout the book.
  • What was his message? Stand strong in Christ. Remember the cross. Live a holy life. Our actions, responses and the way we live in freedom should point others to Christ.
  • When did he write this? in the mid-60s AD
  • Why was this written? "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." (Verse 2) This is an incredible introduction to the text. Peter refers to the work of the Trinity in his life. Peter was writing to those whom God "foreknew" (He is Sovereign and knows ALL things), the Holy Spirit works to "sanctify" (make us more like Christ through life's situations) us, and Jesus has sprinkled us with His blood, washing us clean to be obedient to God. The three work in tandem: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. God longs for us to be obedient to His Word. This is a great way to start the letter Peter is writing, because it reminds us that the words he is about to share come from God and we must obey them to the glory of God.
What did you learn from Peter's life? Share what truths God revealed to you below and on Instagram with the hashtags #LLB1Peter and #lifelivedbeautifully! Let's spread the Gospel through social media.
living in God's grace with you,

Gretchen

(Here are some of the study materials I used: Bible Hub, New Testament Commentary, Precept Austin)