Mark 3:16

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Every day during this season of Lent we’re looking at one of the “3:16” verses of the Bible, spotlighting some of the significant theological statements that happen to fall on the 16th verse of the third chapter of a number of Old and New Testament books. 
“These are the twelve he appointed: Simon (to whom he gave the name Peter).” (Mark 3:16)
When it came to living as a disciple of Jesus, Peter was the embodiment of the title of this year’s Oscar winner for Best Picture:  Everything Everywhere All at Once.  

Peter seems to show up everywhere on the pages of the gospels, and he somehow gets involved in everything.  His name is mentioned a remarkable 120 times.  John, by contrast, rates just 20 mentions (the same number as Judas Iscariot).  Whenever one of the gospel writers lists the names of Jesus’ 12 apprentices, Peter always comes first.  So it is with Mark 3:16. 
From one perspective, he gets everything right.  No one serves Jesus as enthusiastically as Peter. 
He is the first person to announce his conviction that Jesus is the Messiah, God’s own Son.  Jesus famously declares him to be the Rock on which he would build his church, even nicknaming him petros (or “Rocky”).  He assumes a key leadership role during the earliest years of the Christian movement, as documented in the book of Acts.  He’s the first apostle to share the Good News with Gentiles. 
When no one else has the courage to exit their storm-tossed boat on the Sea of Galilee and join Jesus walking on the water, Peter is gung-ho.  He is courageous.  And resilient.  When other wannabe disciples give up on Jesus, offended that he seems to be asking his followers to sign away their very lives, Peter doesn’t flinch.  “To whom else can we go, Lord?  You alone have the words of eternal life.”    
From another perspective, however, he gets everything wrong.  No one fails Jesus as spectacularly as Peter.
He talks too much.  He makes crazy promises he cannot keep.  There are moments when he comes across as bungling, confused, and racked by fear.  When he tries to talk Jesus out of going to the cross – “This should never happen to you, Lord!” – Jesus calls him Satan, which is quite a demotion from the Rock. 
When his Lord needs him the most, Peter delivers the least. 
He falls asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus asks him to pray.  He brandishes a sword at Jesus’ foes, even though the Lord has already resolved to surrender.  After declaring three times that he has never even met the One to whom he has pledged his life, Peter runs like a scared rabbit and dissolves into tears. 
At first he disbelieves the reports of the empty tomb.  When he finally has the chance to sit once again in the presence of Jesus, he’s preoccupied with what God has in store for his friend John.  “What about him, Lord?” “That’s none of your business, Peter,” says Jesus.  “Your job is to follow me.”
And that, in the end, is why Peter is so endearing. 
He has just one job.  He’s called to follow Jesus.  But even when he makes a mess of things, Jesus always welcomes him back.
We have just one job, too. 
Like Peter, we have spoken when we should have remained silent and clammed up when it was time to speak.  We have nodded off when we really needed to pray.  We have told God how to run the universe and run away when things got a bit too scary. 
But Jesus always welcomes us back. 
We don’t have to do everything everywhere all at once.
All we have to do is keep our eyes on the One that Peter learned would always keep his promises.
If you’d like to dive a little deeper into Peter’s life, check out the 21 Morning Reflections that were part of last year’s Lenten series (March 28 through April 22, 2022), which are available in the archives.