I’ve always thought that Peter was a bit of a wishy-washy character. Super bold sometimes, but weak at other times. Jesus calls Simon during the early parts of his ministry, and Peter walks out of his workplace to follow the teacher (Matthew 4: 18-19.) In some of Peter’s bolder moments, he walks on water (Matthew 14:29,) confesses Jesus as Lord (Matthew 16:16,) and promises to die for Him (John 13: 37.) At his weaker moments, he falls in the water (Matthew 14:30,) rebukes Jesus (Mark 8:32,) and of course, publicly denies Jesus on the night of his death. Yet despite Peter’s weaker moments, the Lord chose to make Peter a leader of his people.
In Acts 2, Peter, filled with the spirit, rises to publicly defend the work of the Lord at Pentecost. It’s appropriate that God chose Peter to speak the words that “cut” 3,000 people “to the heart” and brought them into the kingdom because Peter himself was a living, breathing example of the gospel he proclaimed.
The gospel of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection for the salvation of the world is not a story of sugar and spice and everything nice. Instead, Peter’s introduction included a sharp rebuke. It included “blood and fire and billows of smoke” (Acts 2:19) and an murderous accusation (v. 23.) Peter was a good choice for this job because he knew that he, too, was guilty of killing the Lord. And we, too, are guilty of putting Christ to death. Every time we put the things of man ahead of the things of God (Mark 8:33) and every time we take our eyes off the Lord or blatantly deny or relationship with him, then we give evidence to the human stain called sin that nailed Christ to the cross.
However, to suggest human will alone was at play that day would be to overestimate our power as humans and to ignore the sovereign will of God. Peter does not stop short of acknowledging the divine purposes. He says that Jesus handed over “by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge” (v. 23.)
Peter fully proclaimed the truth of the gospel. The gospel wouldn’t be good news if it were a tragedy about innocent blood. It would not be good news if it were not for this fact: God sent his son, knowing full well that our sin would send him to the cross, but in the act of death, He would provide redemption for the same wicked men who killed him. He provided redemption through through repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus Christ.
Peter shared the full gospel because he knew the gospel. He’d lived the gospel. God saves wishy-washy people like Peter and like you and I. Furthermore, God uses wishy-washy people like us to bring his promise of salvation to all–even those “who are far off.”
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4: 7 : “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” We are ordinary and flawed bearers of an extraordinary treasure–the gospel of Jesus.
–Insights from Sally Calcara