First Peter was written only months before horrific persecution of the church was to occur, for on July 19, 64 AD, many scholars believe that Caesar Nero set fire to Rome so he could eventually rebuild the city in a grander style. Seeing an opportunity to multitask, Nero blames the Christians for the blaze, igniting a furor that would result in the annihilation of over six million Christians.
Peter’s desire was to spiritually prepare the church for what ultimately lied ahead. We should find these directives as appropriate today as they were for the fledgling church of two thousand years ago. Going over the main points, Peter’s exhortation is for us to:
Feed the flock, serving as willing overseers, not for personal gain, nor as lords, but as humble examples to those we serve, while being submissive to all. He adds that we are to be sober, vigilant, and steadfast in faith, because satan seeks to eat us alive.
A Tall Order
“I can’t do that, ” you might say, “I am such a failure.”
God might say, “That is precisely why I directed Peter to write it, ” for we see that on every single textual point Peter failed miserably.
Peter certainly was a witness to Christ’s suffering—a ‘far off’ witness the Bible records. And he did witness the glory of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, but he wound up spouting off inappropriately. He sleeps lazily when Jesus told him to stand watch; he pridefully won’t allow Jesus to wash his feet, and wasn’t very submissive when he took Jesus aside to rebuke Him (Matthew 16). Needless to say that chopping off the ear of Malchus wasn’t a very good example either. Finally we discover a discouraged Peter has gone fishing. It is then Jesus reminds him that he has been casting his cares on the wrong side of the boat and later encourages him to feed the sheep he loves.
In light of his failures, what in Heaven’s Name qualifies Peter to exhort us? As he ends this section of the epistle, Peter tells us it is by God’s grace alone that he is qualified and that by this same grace we too are qualified.
But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 1 Peter 5:10
Impeccability vs. Teach-ability
God uses us in our brokenness—He always has and He always will. What better person than Peter to drive home that point. While Peter failed in every instance, we discover that to the same degree he was imperfect, he was teachable–in every single case Peter learned his lesson. Our lesson is that it is our failures that make us best suited for the job—that is if we are teachable, for if we are teachable we are usable.