The gospel is real in part because of what it does to people. Case in point: Peter.
Peter is a loud-mouthed, cocky disciple of Jesus, always stepping in to say something or do something. He often fails.
He corrects Jesus and Jesus rebukes him by calling him Satan.
He accompanies Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane in his loneliest hour, and he falls asleep.
He tries to make up for it by brandishing his sword at Jesus’ arrest, but again Jesus corrects him.
He denies Jesus not once but three times.
After rising from the dead, Jesus pursues Peter with three questions. As if to mirror Peter’s three denials, Jesus asks him the same question three times: Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me? I don’t think Jesus is trying to shame Peter. But I’m sure Peter feels it keenly.
How different the scene is only a few pages later, when we read and see the same man with the same name, Peter, yet wholly changed. He stands up in Acts 2 and speaks in front of the crowd on the day of Pentecost and powerfully attests to the resurrection. Yes, he’s still bold, but bold in a different way. Not for himself, not to prove himself. He has an understanding of the Scripture he didn’t have before. He is leading in a different way.
Then in Acts 4, Peter gets a chance to kind of redeem himself. At least that’s the way I interpret it. During Jesus’ trial, Peter denies three times that he knows Jesus. Who is asking the question though? It is a servant girl, someone without standing or authority. This time, in Acts 4, Peter is questioned by all the rulers, elders and scribes along with the high priest. This time, Peter answers with boldness and power filled with the Holy Spirit.
“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:11-12
God changes people