“Meanwhile, as Simon Peter was standing by the fire warming himself, they asked him again, ‘You’re not one of his disciples, are you?’ He denied it, saying, ‘No, I am not.’” (John 18:25, NLT)
Peter usually takes a beating when evaluated alongside the eleven disciples. He gets labeled as the stumbling, bumbling, think-before-you-speak, foot-in-the mouth, inconsistent goofball from Galilee, who for reasons God only knew, got chosen to be one of Jesus’ first disciples. Good old Peter—the first century version of Gomer Pyle in the Lord’s little band of foot soldiers.
But let’s give Peter some credit. He may not have been perfect—by a long shot—but he sure was passionate! And he was there—at least give him that. In John 18, as Jesus was arrested and brought to trial, when everyone else but John had fled, Peter figured prominently. He was like a bull in a china shop—passionate, yes; perfect, no—but he was there:
- He whacked off the ear of one who came to arrest Jesus. (John 18:10-11, NLT) Passionate—but misguided!
- He surreptitiously followed as the High Priest’s SWAT team took Jesus to jail. (John 18:15-17, NLT) Passionate—but fearful!
- He stood among the soldiers as they warmed themselves by the fire. (John 18:18, NLT) Passionate—but silent!
- He denied knowing Jesus when questioned, but at least he was there to be questioned. (John 18:25, NLT) Passionate—but weak!
- He doubled down on his denial when questioned again. (John 18:26-27, NLT) Passionate—but fundamentally flawed!
Yes, Peter was all of those things we’ve said—there is no doubt about it—but passionate? You bet—imperfect, but passionate to the core! Perhaps that is why Jesus gave Peter so much public attention and placed him so prominently on his leadership team. Like the very flawed King David, Peter had a heart after God.
God can use people like that. In fact, I suspect God prefers them over the perfect. Oh, and just a little hint: There are no perfect people, only those who think and act like they are. Of course, I am not excusing Peter’s imperfection; only explaining it. But I think the reason the Gospel writers included Peter’s gaffes with regularity was not to put him down as the dunderhead we often think he is, but to remind us that God uses imperfect people, especially the passionate ones!
“Passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring. ” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Reflect and Apply: Ask God to give you greater passion. Pray for self-control and wisdom, too—but if you are like me, you probably need more passion than the other two.