Jesus uses a play on words when speaking to Peter (Matthew 16:13-20). “You are Peter (petros), and upon this rock (petra) I will build my church.” Petros means “pebble,” or little stone; and “petra” means boulder, or a great big stone. Jesus goes on to entrust Peter and all those who would follow him with the “Keys to the Kingdom.”
Because of Peter’s faith as well as his failings, it is easy for us to connect with him. One day each of us will appear at the gates of heaven, and there holding the keys will be Peter. Since people like you and me will at times speak out with confidence about our beliefs in Jesus, but like Peter have a checkered history backing up our confession with our actual practice, it is comforting to know that it is Peter we will face with those keys. Peter, of all the disciples, is someone who understands that our lives are not defined by our moments of failure, however colossal or public, but by whether we at least tried to give voice and action to our faith, and by God’s mercy got up one more time than we fell. When we do, we too are chips off the old block, God’s little rocks, and the gates of the kingdom will swing wide open with grace for such little pebbles as these.
- Deacon Robert