Some things never change! But without the passage of time, no things can change. Who we currently are is different than who we can become (Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 4:16-17). But this kind of growth is NOT a quick process. Peter’s life exemplifies this.
Peter, after being with the Lord for about 3 years, still did not understand the kingdom of God that was “at hand” (Mt. 10:7). He was ready and willing to kill when the mob came to the garden by night to arrest Jesus (John 18:10-11). Yet, Judas was not the only one that night who used his mouth to betray the Son of God (Matthew 26:47-49). Soon after Peter’s show of violence, three times he denied the Lord (John 18:15-18; 25- 27).
It was not until after the resurrection of Jesus that Peter’s attitude changed (John 21:15-19). In Acts 2, we see Peter havea very different view of the Kingdom (cf. Acts 1:6) and how to respond to people who would try to stop the Gospel of the Kingdom (Acts 4:19-21; 5:29-42). That is a major transition in ashort few months, but Peter still had alot of growing to do.
Peter appears to have no problem with the Samaritans entering into the kingdom (Acts 8:14-17). Yet, when the Gentiles were given the opportunity to obey the Gospel, it took Peter time to fully accept them. Acts 10:9-17 records Peter’s confusion during a dream when God commands him to kill and eat unclean animals because they are no longer unclean. Though Peter ultimately understands that this refers to the gospel and Gentiles, he struggles to accept them (Acts 10:34; Galatians 2:11-14; cf. Acts 15:6-11).
Not until one reads the Epistles of Peter does it become clear that this man has grown past the man who struggled with Gentiles in the church. He speaks of suffering “as a Christian” in 1 Peter 4:16. The very term that was first used in Antioch of Gentile Christians that Peter withdrew from for atime (Acts 11:26; Galatians 2:11-12). He now emphasizes love, unity, and humility (1 Peter 1:22; 2:9-12; 4:7-11; 5:5). He is even able to call Paul, theapostle to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13; Galatians 2:8) and the one who withstood him to his face years before, his beloved brother (2 Peter 3:14-18). That is a very different person than one who roughly 30 years before was ready to kill a man “for” his Lord and denied his Lord three times all in one night. Change takes time.
Next week, Lord willing, we will look at what else is necessary for change.