A Fragile Stone: The emotional life of Simon Peter, by Michael Card [ISBN 0-308-2372-7, InterVarsity Press, 2003]
“The Ultimate reason for getting to know Peter is so together we might better know Jesus. For the story of Peter is the story of Jesus. Perhaps, if you and I do our best, the same will be said of us someday.” – Michael Card
When most Evangelicals hear of the Apostle Peter they are taught of a bumbling, foot-in-the-mouth, spoke before he thought character who jumped around Jesus like an over excited puppy.
What Michael Card has done successfully in this work is to introduce Simon Peter, the Christian leader, as found in the New Testament. Throughout this work, Card shows the reader how Peter is a perfect example of a Christian who allows his life to point directly back to Jesus Christ. From his religious dedication to his close friendship with Jesus, Peter is a living example to Christians past, present, and future of true humility and servanthood. He was a true missionary pastor that Jesus transformed from a common fisherman. He knew Jesus as no one else could because of his close friendship with him.
Simon Peter was the living stone that Jesus chose to set as the cornerstone of his church. Through the pages of A Fragile Stone, Michael Card begins by looking at the historical Simon Peter, his customs and life in Capernaum reveal a man of deep conviction who was honest and compassionate. All Christians are the building stones of Christ’s church and if we are to continue building what Christ truly wants, the story of Peter as found in scripture must become our story. Michael Card graciously walks step by step through the New Testament stories of Peter with relative insight. He shows the reader that although Peter was the closest friend of Jesus, he was not perfect. But he was also not the bumbling fool that most pastors teach about from the pulpit today. Peter’s life was a transformed life. He did not begin as the spiritual leader he eventually became. All of the success he had as a missionary pastor of the early church was the result of Christ changing him without him even knowing it was happening. It is true that without Christ, Simon Peter would have lived a life of obscurity. But because Jesus loved Peter and because Peter loved Jesus, he is remembered throughout history as the founding rock of the Christian Church.
Peter is an example of a man who submitted entirely to Jesus Christ. The example of his obedience is one that inspires all who discover it. Michael Card writes:
“Genuine obedience is not doing something we already want to do, but submitting to the last thing in the world we would do.” (p.99)
Peter’s obedience did not come quickly. It followed a pattern of painful failures and humble repentance. Peter was restored time and time again until his last major rejection of Jesus in the courtyard of the high priest. This last sin against Jesus before his crucifixion was a turning point in the transformation of Peter from a follower to the leader Christ wanted for his church. Without the failures, there would have never been the successes. Peter was transformed despite his sin. The mercy shown him by his Lord Jesus was the inspiration necessary to serve him faithfully for the rest of his life until his own martyrdom in Rome.
Some tidbits of Peter’s life:
- He is referred to almost two hundred times in the new Testament. (The disciple John is mentioned only thirty-one times)
- Jesus gives him the name Peter but then mysteriously never calls him by that name.
- He had a distinct Galilean accent, which would have sounded harsh to the rest of the people in Judea (Mark 14:70; Acts 2:7)
- His name always appears first in the lists of the disciples.
- He was the first to be called by name by Jesus (John 1:40-42)
- He was the first person to confess his sinfulness to Jesus.
- He receives from Jesus the most severe rebukes.
- The first Gospel written (Mark) was written because of him and became the pattern for the other Synoptics, Matthew and Luke.