It was wonderful to gather with family and friends to celebrate my parent’s 60th, or diamond, wedding anniversary. It was one of those family occasions, which I am sure you are familiar with, where people who you haven’t seen for years gather together for the celebration. In my case there were some people I haven’t seen in decades! My how you’ve changed, a longtime friend of my parents said, I don’t think I have seen you since your David’s birthday when he was about five, he is now 33! “My how you’ve changed,” was said to a lot of people that day as people I remembered as children were now driving themselves to the party. Of course there were people there who hadn’t changed a bit but a few had changed beyond all recognition.
In Matthew 26:69-75, the story of Peter in the courtyard of the High Priest, we encounter a man in whom there was a truly remarkable change. We meet him first as an ordinary fisherman going about his daily business, but following the call of Christ, he quickly emerges as a leader of the Apostles. All that, though, must have rung somewhat hollow on that awful night when, just as had been predicted, he denied knowing Jesus three times.
Yet, when we turn to the book of Acts, what a different story we find. It is Peter, in acts 2, who boldly speaks out for Christ on behalf of the Apostles following the baptism by the Holy Spirit. Later, when his persistent testimony lands him in hot water with the authorities, he responds, ‘Make up your own minds whether it is right in God’s eyes to obey you rather than him. The fact is we cannot help but speak concerning anything we have seen and heard.’ (Acts 4:19-20) From one afraid to be associated with Christ, Peter had changed to one proud to bear his name; from one who’s only thought had been his own safety to one heedless of the cost of discipleship. Here is an astonishing testimony to the way Jesus is able to change lives. The change in us may not be quite so dramatic, but the message of Peter’s story is clear: if Jesus could change his life, he can change anyone’s!
Are you open to the changes God wants to make in your life? Do you recognize that he is equally able to transform the lives of others?
Lord Jesus Christ, I remember today how you changed the life of Simon Peter, turning fear into courage, uncertainty into confidence, denial into affirmation. Remind me that as you changed him, so you can change me; that you are constantly at work nurturing my faith, strengthening my commitment and deepening my experience of your love. Open my heart to the movement of your Spirit, so that I may give you the freedom to mold and shape me to your will, and so make me the person you would have me be, to your praise and glory. Amen