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The Making of an Apostle: Peter Still Speaks

By Bob Slosser Columnist - Fifteen or so years ago, I took an especially close look at Peter and his writings, at least those we have preserved as an important part of the New Testament. You know what I found on first glance? A reed. Yes ... reed who was changed into a rock. Since he was at first just like most of us: the people I encounter in the church, then it seems logical we can become just like him "like a rock," as the Chevy pickup sings in the TV commercial.

Ive often wondered why Gloria (thats my wife) recently gave me a bright red, shiny, toy pickup truck labeled Chevrolet. I think shes hoping Ill one day turn into a rock (Id better hurry up). Although Im not sure she thinks of me as a reed, which the dictionary says is the stem of a tall, slender, flowing, plume-like grass growing in wet, marshy land. I may look more like a red truck, I dont know. I better understand the meaning of reed that relates to a saxophone, having played a mean tenor in yonder years (far, far yonder, I reckon). Ive always wondered what people really intend when they say "mean tenor" or "mean trumpet" (I was such a mild, little kid).

Anyhow, folks, Peter the apostle definitely became a rock, which means more than hard-headed. He became strong, solid definitely one of the good guys. He could carry a big load and was good for the long haul, not easy to frighten (after Pentecost, that is). Id like to become like him, even though most of the good guys in my circle talk more about St. Pauls writings than St. Peters.

The Biblical account introduces us to Peter through his brother, Andrew, sometime after Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist (John 1:35-42, RSV). In a bit of weak grammar (hows that for audacity regarding the Word of God?) the Bible says, "he [Andrew] brought him [Peter] to Jesus." Proper grammar says the verb should be took not brought (that section has other similar problems, which, of course, are not the end of the world, are they? At ease, ye translators and publishers of ye Bible; young John may have written it that way). The significant fact is that good, ol Andrew ran and got Peter before following when invited to follow Jesus.

Remember, Jesus was just going public, so to speak. He looked at Peter, and dont forget, the Son of God had a way of looking at folks that was more than just an ordinary look or even a stare. They knew they were being looked at apparently (reflect on that as you look toward going to heaven and meeting Him).

Right away Jesus says to Andrews brother Peter, whom He correctly addresses as "Simon the Son of John," that he will be called Cephas, which is Aramaic for rock. The Greek Petras stands for Peter and for Rock. The New Testament is written in Greek, with some lapses into Aramaic, which Jesus spoke or something like that.

We see Peter called to follow Jesus in an incident that probably came a few days later (Matthew 4:18-20). Reflect on those verses plus the next few and you get a good picture of how Jesus trained His disciples. He did it on the job, as they say, by walking around doing the ministry. Think of your own experience, and, without criticizing anyone, I ask you to compare that passage with your experience. I suggest we may have a weakness in the way we do church. I say that as an ordinary faithful member of the church, and I dont carry a single barb.

Yes, beloved, times were different, and Jesus congregation (or at least the staff) was a body in action. Read this description: "And He went about all Galilee [thats a big parish], teaching in their synagogues and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom [Ive talked about His subject matter before], and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people. So His fame spread throughout all Syria [thats good PR], and they brought Him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, and paralytics, and He healed them. And great crowds followed Him from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan" [he built a big church fast]" (Matthew 4:23-25).

That first church was a bit different, wasnt it? And it still hadnt become a local church. Ive never seen another congregation do it that way, although there was one in Connecticut that came close in its first days under a new head man.

Of course, dont forget, the first church had an unusual leader. But we still have the same leader or head of the church (Colossians 1:18), according to book, and furthermore that book reports His having said: "He who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father" (John 14:12).

At the same time the infallible book says, "I am with you always" (Matthew 28:20). Thats why we will succeed. But maybe we should restudy "the making of an apostle" as found with ol Peter.

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