To find a striking contrast to the condition sketched in the previous post, we need only to ponder what might have come to Peter’s mind when he penned those words, true knowledge . 2 Peter 1:16 says, “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” He goes on, of course, to describe the scene known as the Mt. of Transfiguration and how he even heard the utterance from heaven concerning Jesus. Peter was there – he was actually there. Not just for the Mt. of Transfiguration, but for nearly every event in Jesus’ life from the time He was baptized by John in the Jordan to the moment when He ascended into the heavens.
Through meals and miracles, traveling and teaching, Peter was an eyewitness to it all. It was in these very real, raw contours of life and experience that Peter’s knowledge of Jesus consisted. This is not to say that it was merely an accumulation of observations, like a first-hand biography. All of the events that Peter was privy to were revealing something about the Person who was doing them. Action, identity, and meaning are all bound inextricably together. What we might term “apostolic doctrine” was simply the proclamation and application of what they come to know about a real man named Jesus: that He was both the Lord (Yahweh in the flesh) and the promised Christ (the king anointed to sit on David’s throne).
Though decades had passed and Peter was no longer talking with Jesus through the dim light of a fire, or sitting in a boat next to Him, the way he related to Jesus had full continuity with the historic Person who he had known and loved. His praying, hoping, ministering, and preaching as an apostle could never be severed from the memory of a real face that flooded his mind when he closed his eyes. This context has such simple, but stunning, implications as we think about what it means for us to have a true knowledge of Jesus.