Michael Card: A Fragile Stone, The Emotional LIfe of Saint Peter

(12/16/03)Well, welcome everybody. Our next guest is a multi-talented guy. He’s an award-winning musician with over 20 albums to his credit, he’s the author of numerous books including his most recent, A Fragile Stone: The Emotional Life of St. Peter, and most important he’s a follower of Jesus, who takes his call to stewardship seriously.

Q. I want you to welcome Michael Card to the show, and we’re going to be talking about his book, A Fragile Stone, which is published by InterVarsity. Michael, great to have you with us today.
A. Hey, my old friend, how are you doing?

Q. I like that emphasis on old, too, Michael. That’s very kind. You know, people know you as a musician, many people have read the stuff you’ve written. When did you decide that you were going to write books in addition to-to writing the music that you write?
A. I think it came as a result of doing so much preparation for each record. I would spend a year getting ready to write ten songs on a given topic or a given Biblical book, and then I would have piles of notebooks and notes and things, you know, and ten songs, you know. That goes by in about 30 minutes.

Q. Yeah.
A. And I finally realized, you know, I’ve got more to say. And I was saying so much in concert people would say, you know, Would you not talk so much in concert and just play?

Q. Yeah.
A. And so I think in all it occurred to me, well, I’ll write all the other stuff that wouldn’t fit in a song in a book and-and¢â‚¬¦

Q. But you still talked as much at a concert.
A. Well, no, I actually don’t as much.

Q. Really.
A. I think¢â‚¬¦

Q. Because you’re thinking, Read the book?
A. ¢€œ and not say anything.

Q. What’s the difference in the creative process for you?
A. Well¢â‚¬¦

Q. Is it mentally different?
A. It’s-it’s fairly¢â‚¬¦ It’s fairly different. Songs, writing songs tends to be sort of an intense flash. I just finished a song for Brennan Manning yesterday and it was four hours of this real concentration. Book writing is over an extended period of time, a lot lesser degree of focus which I would love if¢â‚¬¦ No one makes a living writing books. Everybody has a real job besides writing books.

Q. Right.
A. But I would love to live the life of a book writer. That would be a great life.

Q. Yeah? Oh man, a lot of people can relate to that.
A. Yeah. I’m looking for a patron.

Q. Yeah, exactly.
A. Everybody’s a musician.

Q. What were you writing for Brennan Manning? Can we¢â‚¬¦
A. He has a new album out called “The Rabbi’s Heartbeat” ¢€œ

Q. Really.
A. ¢€œ and his publisher knew that we were friends and said, you know, Why don’t you write a song that’s themed on the book. So I wrote up a song called “The Beat of the Rabbi’s Heart.”

Q. Oh, I love that guy.
A. And he’s a wonderful guy. My son is named after him. That’s how much I, he means to me.

Q. Really. What has your fascination with Peter as a character in scripture been?
A. Well, I had an occasion to realize how little I knew him and how I think like I do with other people, I had labeled him and really not listened to his life and, you know, like I said, I think-I think I tend to do that. Maybe some of the listeners tend to do that to everybody. And I just had a very shallow point of view of this wonderfully complex follower of Jesus who, I think, is the primary disciple. Very important figure in Christianity.

Q. Yeah. Was there something that triggered that? Was there some incident or some reading or some¢â‚¬¦
A. Well, I was actually teaching a class, just a home Bible study class on Acts ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œ and it was in the course of teaching that class. In the first 12 chapters it’s really mostly about Peter. Paul takes over and then the rest of the book is about Paul. But I just, I met him. I feel like I met him for the first time and there were a lot of things that he was struggling with that-that I struggle with.

Q. You talked about going out to pick up some books so you can start doing your research.
A. Yeah.

Q. And you realized there’s not a lot written about Peter.
A. That was a shock. I mean, I was-I was really shocked at that, so little. I mean, you can buy a book on the most obscure Christian person you can think of. I mean, you can find lives of Bonhoeffer and lives of Mother Teresa and, not that they’re especially obscure, but compared to Peter I think they’re obscure.

Q. Yeah.
A. And I went at the opening of the book, you know, I went to the Catholic bookstore and there wasn’t an icon of Peter, there wasn’t a book on Peter. I went to the Protestant bookstore, I went to the secular bookstore.

Q. Yeah.
A. And finally, you know, just looked up on the computer and found, you know, a few books but, you know, nothing major had been written about him since the ¢â‚¬Ëœ80s.

Q. Why do you think that is?
A. I think the Protestant¢â‚¬¦ I think it’s largely a Protestant thing. I think we are afraid to acknowledge him.

Q. Yeah.
A. And¢â‚¬¦

Q. Yeah. You went to the Catholic bookstore and said, Hey, what are you doing? He’s your guy.
A. Yeah. That’s exactly what I said. The little girl didn’t know what to say. You know, he’s your guy.

Q. Yeah.
A. But it’s amazing that even in the Catholic church there doesn’t seem to be a focus on Peter. Peter has become an office more so in the Catholic church. And in the Protestant church he’s just nothing.

Q. Yeah.
A. He’s lumped in with the other 12 because we’re so afraid of making something special of Peter because we might look Catholic. I mean¢â‚¬¦

Q. Yeah. Well, you talk about when you write about Peter you run the risk of offending your Catholic friends and your Protestant friends.
A. Right. Well, I haven’t gotten very many angry letters, but I got a pretty angry letter from a lady the other day and-and when I¢â‚¬¦ She was the¢â‚¬¦ The anti-Catholic sentiment among Protestantism is amazing.

Q. Yeah.
A. It never ceases to amaze me. And I’m a, you know, a Protestant I guess. I’m not a very good Protestant, but I consider myself a Protestant. But the way I respond¢â‚¬¦ Her letter was very angry. And the Protestant position is this ¢€œ and I write her back ¢€œ you know, why does their have to be a Protestant position or a Catholic position? Why can’t there just be a Biblical position?

Q. Yeah.
A. Because this isn’t rocket science, looking at the life of Peter and seeing that in the early life of the church he was-he was the leader of the early church which, of course the Catholics, you know, say hooray when they hear me say that. But then when I make the point that after the Cornelius incident he basically disappears on the mission field, that’s where the Protestants say yeah and the Catholics say huh?

Q. Yeah, exactly. You-you have this wonderful Oscar Coleman quote, in a preface evidently to his book on Simon Peter where he says, “We promote mutual and improved understanding only if we do not pass over in silence that which separates us.”
A. Yeah. Right, right. That would be the quote.

Q. That’s it. Now, you-you dedicated it to a Protestant buddy ¢€œ
A. Yeah.

Q. ¢€œ Michael W. Smith.
A. No, no, no, no. C. Michael Smith, not Michael W. Smith.

Q. C. Michael¢â‚¬¦ Oh, your pastor.
A. Yeah, yeah. He’s one of the pastors at my church.

Q. C. Michael Smith. Okay, your pastor. And you said he’s taught you something about-about the missionary Peter.
A. Right.

Q. What have you learned through your pastor?
A. Well, Mike Smith is a guy ¢€œ he actually studied with Bill Lane at Gordon the way you did ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œ and Mike Smith is, of all this huge pastoral staff at our church, Mike Smith is the guy who, if you call him at 3:00 because your car’s broken down, he’s happy, he’s actually glad you called him and woke him up.

Q. Uh-huh, yeah.
A. He is this pure¢â‚¬¦ He’s always a pastor. He’s-he’s just, I mean, it’s ¢€œ

Q. Wow.
A. ¢€œ like a thoroughbred’s sort of made to run, Mike Smith is this caring person. And I think¢â‚¬¦ I frequently thought of Mike Smith when I would read about Peter because Peter, I think, struck me as that sort of person.

Q. Yeah.
A. Especially later on.

Q. The foreword is to Brennan Manning who, of course, is Roman Catholic. And-and he writes a beautiful foreword in the book.
A. Uh-huh.

Q. How did you first meet Brennan? You’ve-you’ve said that you named a son after him, but how did that happen?
A. I read an article in the old Wittenberg Door that he had written about pioneer Christianity versus settler Christianity.

Q. Yeah.
A. And a bunch of us were on the road together, riding around in our van, doing concerts, and all the guys in the band were just awestruck at this article. You know, we all love the Wittenberg Door anyway, and I was sad that it went away. But and so we called him and I started corresponding with him.

Q. Wow.
A. And he went on the road with me for, I don’t know, about six weeks. He would¢â‚¬¦ I would do a concert to prepare for what he would say and then he would speak.

Q. Wow, that’s amazing.
A. And that was great. And we’ve-we’ve, we send books back and forth to each other and call each other every couple of months.

Q. Oh, that’s great.

We’re going to be back with Michael Card and get into the book, A Fragile Stone: The Emotional Life of Simon Peter. This is just a wonderful study. You’re going to thoroughly enjoy it. It’s published by InterVarsity, available at your bookstore or online. We’ll be right back.


Well, this is Dick Staub back with you. We’re visiting with Michael Card. You know him as a musician and as a writer. His most recent book is A Fragile Stone: The Emotional Life of St. Peter.

Q. You talk about searching for Peter beyond the stereotypes, and that you yourself had stereotyped him.
A. Uh-huh.

Q. What are some of the stereotypes that you think many people hold of-of Peter?
A. Well, they tend to line up on two poles. One of them is, he’s sort of this goofball who always says and does the wrong thing, and he’s very, you know, he corrects Jesus. He does correct Jesus, but you know, always saying¢â‚¬¦ A foot-in-the-mouth Peter.

Q. Yeah, yeah.
A. And then the other view is-is sort of the, an older view that Peter had these outstanding qualities that caused Jesus to choose him because Jesus knew he was just the man he needed.

Q. Yeah.
A. So on one he’s sort of overqualified and the other one he’s under qualified.

Q. Now, you say when you read about him you saw him a lot more complex and he was a fragile stone.
A. Yeah.

Q. Talk about that idea of a fragile stone.
A. Well, the complexity thing fascinates me. And you only get that when you stop reading the stories of his life one at a time.

Q. Yeah.
A. What you have to do is get the flow. And you understand that he’s not just popping off, there’s usually a reason that he-he says and does the things that he does.

Q. Yeah.
A. He won’t let Jesus wash his feet, it’s because he had only recently seen Jesus transfigured talking with Moses and Elijah.

Q. Absolutely.
A. Yeah. And-and-and it was inappropriate. I think he often, he said the right thing. He said what nobody else had the guts to say.

Q. Yeah, exactly.
A. Jesus shouldn’t have done that. That was not appropriate according¢â‚¬¦

Q. Well, and you point out that there were times when Peter understood things beyond his own understanding.
A. Right.

Q. And Jesus even acknowledged that.
A. Right. And-and I think we all do that. I mean, we all sometimes say more than we know. We listen to ourselves talk and say, Wow. I don’t know if you ever listen to yourself.

Q. Oh man, it’s a scary thing.
A. Yeah.

Q. You know what’s funny is I’ve been re-reading some books that I read like 20 years ago. And I’ll read the notes in the margins and I’ll think, Man, I was pretty smart back then.
A. Yeah.

Q. I never knew I knew that.
A. Right.

Q. You know, that kind of happens.
A. Interacting in the margins.

Q. There you go.
A. You know who taught us that.

Q. There you go. So-so you also talk about his-his fragility, though.
A. Yeah. Especially towards the end of his experience with Jesus. I mean, on one hand you have this amazingly courageous man who will jump into a from 2 to 600 armed soldiers by himself with a sword and start, you know, swinging away. I mean, there’s not a cowardly bone in his body.

Q. Total passion.
A. Absolutely.

Q. Yeah.
A. And total commitment. Until I think he perceives that Jesus has given up. He-he would never have been able to see ¢€œ even though Jesus told him it would happen ¢€œ that Jesus would, you know, in effect surrender to the Romans and let himself be bound and led off. And I think it was that, the sight of Jesus being bound ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œ and not fighting. I imagine Peter looking back over his shoulder expecting Jesus to be, you know, throwing lightning bolts or swinging a sword or something. And when he sees that he’s given up, I think that it’s, not-not-not perhaps literally a nervous breakdown, but certainly an emotional breakdown.

Q. Well you know, one of the most profound insights in this book to me is the insight that you have that Peter saw a Jesus he didn’t want to see. He saw¢â‚¬¦ When Jesus was talking about, you know, the crucifixion and what was coming next ¢€œ
A. Yeah.

Q. ¢€œ Peter got it but he didn’t want to see it. I mean, which gets us to the whole idea of even doing an emotional reading of-of Simon Peter.
A. Yeah.

Q. What was it that made you decide you wanted to go for kind of that aspect of Peter’s life?
A. Well, that-that’s simple, Dick. It’s because his emotions are given to us.

Q. Yeah. It’s in the text.
A. Yeah. He-he’s the only other fully formed character in the gospels besides Jesus. We know so much about Peter. We know¢â‚¬¦ We have the first time they met, we have the last time they saw each other. We have him saying no to Jesus. We have them, you know, correcting each other and defining each other. It’s a wonderful relationship. Everyone always says, Well, what about John?

Q. Yeah.
A. Well, John’s mentioned like 20-some odd times. Peter’s mentioned almost 300 times.

Q. But why is it¢â‚¬¦
A. Do the math.

Q. Yeah. Why is it that we have this idea of-of the beloved disciple being John and-and-and you, of course, you do interact with that at the final meal. You’re asking, Where’s Peter? You know, John’s right there at that-that most special seating arrangement next to Jesus.
A. Right.

Q. Peter’s not.
A. Well, when John calls himself the beloved disciple I don’t think that’s exclusivity, I think he-he, like you and like me, hopefully, he is a person whose whole life is defined by the fact that he’s loved by Jesus, not that Jesus loves him more than anyone else or certainly less than anyone else. So I’m¢â‚¬¦ Hopefully, I’m the disciple Jesus loves and you’re the disciple that Jesus loves.

Q. Yeah.
A. And I think Peter is quiet after, especially after the foot washing because Jesus has just, in effect, you know, hinged his whole discipleship on the fact that Peter won’t let him wash his feet.

Q. Yeah, yeah. You have a couple of pages of significant facts from Simon’s life. You already pointed out one of them. He’s referred to 200 times in the New Testament compared to John ¢€œ
A. Yeah.

Q. ¢€œ 31 times. Some people would not know that Peter was both married and that his wife accompanied him on some of his mission trips.
A. Yeah. Paul says that. Yeah. So clearly, yeah. We know from the gospels he had a mother-in-law so that sort of implies¢â‚¬¦

Q. Yeah, yeah. Well, not everybody makes that connection, though.
A. Yeah, right.

Q. You talk about him being the leader of the 12.
A. Yeah, clearly.

Q. And that even happened when they meet and the way they meet. And you talk about the way the disciples are listed. And Peter’s always first.
A. Right. Well clearly, I think the disciples find¢â‚¬¦ The scholars call it “corporate identity.” Certainly Jesus is the leader. I mean, he’s the Master, he’s the lord. But amongst the 12, the 12 find a corporate identity in Peter. And so Jesus will ask the 12 questions and Peter will answer. Or you know, the 12 will want to know something and Peter will ask Jesus. Or somebody will want something from Jesus and they, usually, every now ¢€œ at least once they come to Phillip ¢€œ but usually they come to Peter when they want to know about the temple tax being paid, and that sort of thing.

Q. Yeah, yeah.
A. So clearly, he-he is sort of¢â‚¬¦ They find a corporate identity in Peter. And clearly in the first 12 chapters of Acts it’s-it’s still that way. Peter is the head of the Jerusalem church, which is the only church there is at that point. And he decides about Ananias and Sapphira, and he decides about Matthias replacing Judas.

Q. Yeah.
A. He’s the leader, clearly.

Q. One of the most interesting insights is in the chapter on “Jesus the Fisherman” when Jesus tells them to, you know, go out again, cast their nets out there.
A. Yeah.

Q. Place that in the context of-of that event and why Peter would react that he’s too much of a sinner. That’s a lot of fish.
A. Yeah, well that’s the first miraculous catch. That’s Luke 5. There are two, you know that.

Q. Yeah.
A. There’s John 21 and one in Luke 5.

Q. Yeah.
A. And-and I think that’s significant because in this whole list of firsts, Peter is the first one to-to, in essence say, you know, I’m a sinner. He’s the first one to confess his sin to Jesus.

Q. Yeah.
A. He does something ¢€œ and this is very characteristic of him ¢€œ he asks for something that he doesn’t really want. He asks for Jesus to go away. And I can’t believe that he really wants that.

Q. Yeah.
A. But he recognizes in this amazing man power, you know, incredible power. I mean, If you’re going to impress a fisherman, you know, you-you provide a miraculous catch of fish.

Q. Yeah.
A. And Peter sees that Jesus is this person with all this authority and all this power and, you know, he’s been affected by the preaching of John the Baptist, clearly, and he says, Get away.

Q. You didn’t go for the Peter told so many lies about how big the fish were that immediately he realized he was a sinner when he saw all those fish? Because here was a guy that could tell the truth about the catch.
A. Yeah. That would be the least of his sins he was worried about, I bet.

Q. Yeah, exactly.

We’re going to be back with Michael Card. His book is A Fragile Stone, published by InterVarsity. The Emotional Life of St. Peter. It’s a great read, it would make a great gift. We’ll be right back. Don’t go away.


Well, this is Dick Staub back with you. We’re visiting with Michael Card. His book is A Fragile Stone, published by InterVarsity, The Emotional Life of St. Peter. And we’ve been looking at some of the insights that you gain when you place Peter’s words in the flow, not just the immediate context, but in the flow of events in his life.

Q. Certainly one of the most familiar stories and-and-and one that we’ve probably all heard sermons on is Peter walking on the water.
A. Yeah.

Q. That is-that is truly an amazing story. I mean, if you stop thinking about is as a, yeah, I’ve-heard-that-before-in-Sunday-school story and the reality of a guy stepping out in a storm.
A. Yeah.

Q. Talk about some of what you came to understand about Peter in his incident of walking on the water.
A. Well, it’s another one of those lists of firsts. He’s the first disciple to do a miracle. And I think to get it clear you have to understand that there were-there were two occasions that the disciples were caught out on the Sea of Galilee in a storm. The first one is a violent storm. Dr. Lange used to say it was demonic in character.

Q. Yeah.
A. The storm was the devil’s attempt, he has them all in the boat together and he’s going to kill them all at once, drown them in the middle of the lake. That’s not when Peter walked on the water although most of the paintings, you know, it’s that kind of a storm. The-the incident when Peter walks on the water is a completely different time and it’s not a violent storm. It’s just wind, it’s windy. The wind is against them.

Q. Yeah.
A. They’re rowing against the wind.

Q. Yeah.
A. And the biggest difference is in the first storm Jesus is with them in the boat. In the second he’s not with them in the boat.

Q. Yeah.
A. He sends them away on purpose.

Q. Yeah.
A. And so they’re rowing against the wind and in the middle of the night that must have been a pretty spooky thing. They see Jesus walking to them on the water, and they make the only logical conclusion that a person could make. It’s a ghost.

Q. Yeah.
A. What else? Who else could it be? It’s gotta be a ghost.

Q. Yeah.
A. So they freak out and start yelling. And Jesus, you know, shouts to them, It’s me, don’t be afraid. And that’s when Peter makes this strange request. And it’s worded in a very particular way, a very peculiar way. He says, If it’s you ¢€œ

Q. Yeah, exactly.
A. ¢€œ then tell me to come to you.

Q. Yeah.
A. So it’s not-it’s not, you know¢â‚¬¦ I mean, it’s a very convoluted sort of on-his-head statement. If it’s you, then tell me to come to you ¢€œ

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œ and I will. And Jesus says, you know, Come. And Bonhoeffer says that Peter had been with Jesus long enough to understand that the initiative always had to be with Jesus.

Q. Yeah.
A. So you know, Peter knows better than to say, Watch this, I’m going to walk on the water to you. Right?

Q. Yeah.
A. He knows that¢â‚¬¦

Q. He’s got to get an endorsement.
A It had to be at the call of Jesus.

Q. Yeah.
A. And the miraculous thing is that he does this.

Q. Yes.
A. The text doesn’t say exactly how far, but he makes his way towards Jesus. And then the text says he saw the wind and the waves and he became afraid ¢€œ and like anybody with any sense would ¢€œ and he begins to sink. And Jesus reaches out his hand. And the point I make in the book is miracles are okay. Miracles are nice things.

Q. Yeah.
A. I think we’re entirely too focused on them. And I think that the point is that Peter needed to sink. If he’d walked to Jesus I’m sure he would have been very self-congratulatory and he would have perhaps, you know, been the chief one in the arguments about who was the greatest. Hey, I walked on the water. None of you guys did that, blah, blah, blah. He needed to sink, just like you and I need to sink.

Q. Yeah.
A. Sinking is much more important than walking on the water.

Q. Yeah. You talk about our growth comes in those moments when we stumble.
A. Absolutely.

Q. Not in those moments¢â‚¬¦
A. Yeah, and reach out.

Q. Yeah, exactly. Again folks, I hope you’re hearing what Michael is doing here because he’s taking the-the various stories in the different gospels and putting them in their kind of order, and then understanding each of them in the flow and context of them. And you know, having been on the Sea of Galilee a number of times, whether it’s a small, you know, wind or a demonic storm, when the winds stir up on that thing it’s-it wouldn’t be fun to be out there in a boat.
A. Really, wow.

Q. And you wouldn’t want to get out there and walk on it.
A. Yeah.

Q. And so there’s this wonderful sense of who Peter is that we’re getting from what Michael is walking through.
A. And I think you’ve got to ask yourself, What kind of person wants to do that?

Q. Exactly.
A. I think that tells you a lot about him. I mean, I don’t know if I have a sufficient answer to that question. But what sort of person wants to walk on the water? Well, that’s who Simon Peter was.

Q. Well, and that’s back to the complexity of the guy.
A. Yeah.

Q. You know, the what in the world is going on with this guy? He’s not just a knee-jerk reaction guy.
A. No, no.

Q. He’s thought it through. He’s thinking deeply.
A. I think here’s the other connection between those two stories. In the first incident they’re, you know, terrified, they wake Jesus up. And don’t you care if we’re going to drown, and all this stuff. And Jesus sort of wipes the sleep out of his eyes and looks at them and says, Don’t you have any faith at all? You know, I’m here with you. You idiots. You’re safe, right? Even if it’s a storm.

Q. Yeah.
A. And I think when he’s caught on that second wind storm on the sea and he believes it’s Jesus, I think Peter says, He’s never going to say that to me again.

Q. Yeah.
A. He’s never going to say I have no faith again.

Q. Yeah, exactly.
A. And when he grabs Peter’s hand he looks at Peter and says, Oh you of little faith. So he does a little better.

Q. One of the most dramatic interactions of Jesus with Peter is described in your chapter, “Loyal Despair” ¢€œ
A. Uh-huh.

Q. ¢€œ in which Jesus wants to know who people are saying that he is. And there’s an interaction which Peter engages that. But then Jesus turns it into who he is, who Peter is.
A. Yeah. Yeah, they define each other. I think that’s¢â‚¬¦ Real friends do that. You know, Jesus says, Who do people say I am? And they come up with this same lame list that we’ve already read in the gospel. Some people think he’s John the Baptist and all this business. And I think you have to look closely at the words. And Jesus looks at the 12 and he says, Well, who do you say that I am?

Q. Uh-huh.
A. And as usual, Peter responds for the 12.

Q. Yeah.
A. And Peter doesn’t say, We say you are the Messiah. Peter says, You are.

Q. Yeah, it’s not an opinion.
A. Yeah. And I think even that wording is-is important. You’re the Messiah. And then Jesus turns back and looks at Peter and says, Well, you’re Cephas. So they define each other.

Q. Now, talk to us briefly about the importance of that name. I mean, the issue of Peter¢â‚¬¦
A. Cephas?

Q. Yeah. Having a different name and yet Jesus not referring to him regularly by that name.
A. Yeah. He never calls him¢â‚¬¦ Well actually, you know, here’s one of those nightmares when you write a book. I made the claim in the book, you know, Jesus gives him the title Cephas but ¢€œ

Q. But never called him that.
A. ¢€œ never called him that title.

Q. Yeah.
A. And some 12-year-old girl writes me a letter. Well, in Luke 20-something, you know. And sure enough there’s one incident where ¢€œ

Q. Yeah, where he called him Peter.
A. ¢€œ where Jesus calls him Peter. But anyway, aside from that incident¢â‚¬¦

Q. And you said, I knew that.
A. Yeah. Of course I have to say I’m an idiot. I should have checked that.

Q. Yeah.
A. Yeah, it’s a title. It’s not a nickname the way he nicknames James and John Sons of Thunder or the Twin, what was the Twin’s name? Anyway, one of the disciples he calls, he names the Twin. It’s a title in the same way that Christ is a title. And I think it’s back to this corporate identity business, because the only other person besides God who’s called a rock in the Bible is Abraham.

Q. Yeah.
A. In Isaiah 51.

Q. Yeah.
A. And I think that’s the passage. I think Jesus, in essence, is saying, I’m going to build this church and you’re going to be the first stone that’s going to be laid.

Q. And what a wonderful connection back to Abraham.
A. Yeah, exactly.

Q. Through Abraham all nations will be blessed.
A. Right. And so I make a strong case for the primacy of Peter.

Q. Yeah.
A. Peter is the primary disciple. You know, I think that’s a fairly airtight case. But I don’t go along with, don’t agree with the supremacy of Peter.

Q. Yeah.

I’ll tell you what. We’ll pick up there when we come back with some concluding comments from Michael Card. Spend more time with him by picking up your own copy of A Fragile Stone. We’ll be right back.


Well, this is Dick Staub back with you. We’re visiting with Michael Card. His most recent book is A Fragile Stone: The Emotional Life of St. Peter.

Q. There is a CD that accompanies this, isn’t there Michael?
A. Yeah, uh-huh.

Q. Yeah. I would be using it except I don’t have one. But I apologize because I usually use Michael’s music in the background of this.
A. Well unfortunately, Dick, a lot of people don’t have that CD.

Q. Well, we’ll see if we can do something about that.
A. Yeah.

Q. People, when you’re out buying the book, buy the companion CD and give them as a matched set to your friends.
A. Well you know, one of the most fascinating comments you’ve made so far is this idea of it making a great Christmas present. I just find that fascinating.

Q. Yeah. Unusual, isn’t it, that I would think of that. The transfiguration is an amazing experience but it also, you make this relationship between the transfiguration and going back down the hill and paying the temple tax.
A. Yeah.

Q. I found that just extremely important insight ¢€œ
A. Yeah.

Q. ¢€œ into Peter beginning to see that things are changing.
A. Yeah.

Q. And I’d never noticed that before. Talk about the transfiguration, Peter not knowing what to say and talking anyway, which is one of those foot-in-the-mouth images that people have of him, and then the relationship to paying the temple tax.
A. Well and again, I think, you know, you’re picking up on this idea of there’s a continuity. You know, unfortunately we read the Bible a chapter at a time, or a half chapter at a time, and don’t read a whole book at a time and catch the flow.

Q. Yeah.
A. But the transfiguration is a significant time, I think, for Peter. It’s the only time any of the disciples ever saw his glory, if you think about that.

Q. Yeah.
A. When Jesus is crucified all they see is a man die on a cross.

Q. Yeah.
A. And they’re not there for the resurrection. So the only time they ever really see his unveiled sort of nature is the three of them that get to see him when he’s transfigured on the mountain. And it’s the only historical experience that Peter had with Jesus that Peter ever referred to in his letters. So that was a big moment for him.

Q. Yeah, absolutely.
A. Yeah. And he doesn’t know what to say. I mean, what do you¢â‚¬¦ A good Jewish boy who sees Moses and Elijah?

Q. Absolutely.
A. What are you going to say?

Q. Yeah.
A. And there’s¢â‚¬¦ So he says¢â‚¬¦ Aand it’s great in Mark because Mark is Peter’s, record of Peter’s story, Peter’s testimony. Mark was a disciple of Peter and Peter told him, gave him the information. And Mark says, you know, when Peter blathers this business about we’ll build three shelters, the little parenthetical statement is there because he didn’t know what he was saying.

Q. Yeah, exactly.
A. But then they come down from the mountain after having this glorious experience and they go back to Capernaeum where Jesus, I believe, lives in Peter’s house.

Q. Yeah.
A. And if you don’t read carefully enough you’ll miss it. And every other time they go into the city they are so covered up with people that they don’t even have time to eat. There are people at the door, they can’t get in the house. You know, they have to tear a hole in Peter’s roof to lower this man down, and that kind of business. But they come back after the transfiguration, and this is their last time back to Capernaeum, and nobody is there except two tax collectors, temple tax collectors.

Q. Yeah.
A. And they go to Peter and they say ¢€œ Jesus is inside the house and Peter goes out to meet them ¢€œ and they say, Does your Master pay the temple tax? Well, he’s not supposed to pay the temple tax because he’s a rabbi, he’s a teacher. He’s supposed to be exempt from the tax.

Q. Right. And is not a foreigner.
A. Yeah. Yeah. The very fact that they’re asking shows that things are really changing. There’s no longer a crowd there. You know, there’s been a shift. And Peter, before he asks Jesus, he says, Well of course he does. Because Peter is used to bowing to the authority of people from the temple. And then he walks back into his house and, you know, intent on asking Jesus, Well, do you pay this tax? I mean, I’ve never heard of you paying this tax before. And before Peter has a chance to speak, Jesus, whether he heard them through the door or whether he had the spiritual insight and knew what had happened, he asked that question, you know, Who do kings collect taxes from? Foreigners or their own children? And Peter says, Well, from foreigners.

Q. Yeah.
A. And then Jesus says something ¢€œ it’s one of the most amazing things he says — he says, Okay, so we won’t offend them.

Q. Yeah.
A. Since when does Jesus care about offending people?

Q. Yeah.
A. He’s offended them every chance he’s got.

Q. Yeah.
A. But I think he wants to give, have some peace so he and Peter can spend this last block of time together before their final trip to Jerusalem.

Q. Now folks, the book, A Fragile Stone: The Emotional Life of St. Peter, takes you right down into the-the trip to Jerusalem, the prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane¢â‚¬¦
A. Those last couple of hours together were amazing.

Q. They were amazing and I’m going to just leave them there and let people read them.
A. Yeah.

Q. Because I do want to bring out the fact that the whole end part of the story is this different Peter that you describe in the section on the bridge, the preacher, the healer, the prisoner, reluctant reconciler, the passionate writer. The book, for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, goes through every one of these incidents in Jesus’ life with Peter. But then there’s this-this recognition of who Peter is in the post-resurrection era.
A. Yeah.

Q. And he’s amazing. He’s-he’s¢â‚¬¦ Now you’re seeing the complexity even more.
A. Yeah, absolutely. And what you see, I think, is you see the effect of Jesus’ prayer. Because after he, or before actually, before he denies Jesus, Jesus tells Peter, I’ve prayed for you. And when you turn back you strengthen your brothers. And that’s basically the story of Peter in Acts.

Q. Yeah.
A. He becomes an amazing leader.

Q. Now when you step back now ¢€œ and again folks, I want you to spend some time with this book. It’s A Fragile Stone: The Emotional Life of St. Peter, and we’ve obviously just been hitting some of the highlights of it ¢€œ but I wanted you to get the sense of how Michael is working with the text. And it’s one of those wonderful books that’s a, it’s going to be absolutely, operate at a credible level in terms of-of how you should handle the text, but it’s also just a wonderful, readable story of somebody that you thought you knew and you keep seeing again and again these new things about this guy.
A. Yeah.

Q. And he comes to life. And that’s kind of where I wanted to go next, because when you got finished with this whole thing and you’ve interacted now, not only with Peter but with the friendship ¢€œ and I think it’s fair to call it that, a friendship between Jesus and Peter ¢€œ how are things different for you in terms of your own sense of how this applies to Michael Card?
A. Well, I think he’s impacted me a lot of ways. I think¢â‚¬¦ I look for echoes of that in my friendship with Jesus because I count him¢â‚¬¦ I know that he’s called me his friend and I-I hope that I’m a friend, you know, back. And so I see echoes of it everywhere. I see him defining me the way he defined Peter. I see-I see me saying no to him and reminding him of things the way Peter did.

Q. Yeah.
A. I see times when I walk on the water and times when I sink. And I mean, his life, Peter’s life is very parabolic that way. A living parable that applies. I think it helps us understand. If we’re going to understand what it means to be a disciple, we’ve got to look at his life, at Peter’s life. And I think this whole fragile stone business, I think what we learn the most from and what we receive the most encouragement from is his brokenness. I mean, his great strength was his emotional breakdown.

Q. Yeah.
A. The results, or what happened because of that.

Q. Man, I’ll tell you, though, you read this book with an openness of heart that this is the kind of relationship that Jesus wants with each of us, honest, straight-ahead, deep commitment.
A. Yeah.

Q. Peter puts us to shame.
A. And struggling.

Q. And struggling.
A. I mean, the struggling is there as well.

Q. The fragility.
A. Absolutely.

Wow. Folks, as I said you can spend more time with Michael Card by picking up your own copy of the book, A Fragile Stone: The Emotional Life of St. Peter, published by InterVarsity. And as Michael has been pointing out, it’s real insight to understand this would make a great gift.

A. And you know, you can also just read the Bible.

Q. And that’s an alternative.
A. I mean, I hate to blow away the buy-the-book idea, but you know, it’s in the Bible, too.

Q. Yeah.

And there’s a CD with it, A Fragile Stone, you can buy that, too. We’re going to be back with more of The Dick Staub Show right after this. Don’t go away.

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