“Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” – 1 Peter 5:5
When thinking of the disciples, what picture does your mind paint? Do you imagine them as wise and old, or unlearned and young? Before watching the new television series, The Chosen, I often imagined the twelve disciples as middle-aged men. Without giving it much thought, I pictured them as having a lot of life experience and understanding the intricacies of everyday life. After all, why would Jesus pick the youthful and inexperienced to spread the good news of the Gospel?
This Biblical television series was a good reminder for me. Ever since my time at Bible college, I’ve known that the average age of the disciples was well under 30 years. Although the Bible doesn’t directly tell us the age of each disciple, it is a Jewish tradition that a rabbi has students younger than himself. Jesus was 30 years old when His ministry began. With this in mind, some of His disciples may have even been in their late teens! Jesus may have changed the course of human history with teenagers. Talk about eye-opening!
Peter, who was very close to Jesus, gives us invaluable advice for those who are young. “Be subject to elders and clothe yourself in humility.” In other words, listen to those who have walked the path of faith and submit yourselves under their leadership. He continues by explaining that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Even though Peter wrote these words later in his life, I am confident he learned these truths as a youth under Jesus’ teaching.
Peter struggled with pride as a young man and was often humbled in his errors. For example, when Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, Peter refused. John 13:8 says, “Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Immediately after Jesus’ words, Peter was humbled. “Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” -John 13:9
The account of Peter’s denial of Jesus is another good example. Before Jesus was arrested, He told all his disciples that they would leave Him. Peter’s response to Jesus can be found in Matthew 26:33-35. “Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.” Fast forward to Matthew 26:74-75 and we see Peter’s actions. “Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.”
Pride has no place in the Christian’s heart and life. Peter knew this to be true. He continues in his first Epistle saying, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:6-7
He continues with words of comfort and encouragement. Remember, he is speaking directly to those who are young.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:8-11
Just as the Lord restored Peter, he will also restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish those who are young in the Christian faith. You will stumble on this journey of faith. Rest assured, when you stumble, God will restore you!