You probably know that Jesus called 12 men to be His disciples. These men were His friends, and they were the ones that continued to teach others about Christ after He had returned to heaven. None of these men were perfect. In fact, one of them, Judas, betrayed Jesus and turned Him into the authorities to be crucified. But Jesus knew their hearts and minds and picked them especially to learn from Him and continue His work later. One of the first disciples to be chosen was Simon Peter. Peter was a fisherman along with his brother Andrew and friends James and John, all of whom became disciples also.
One day while Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, He saw Peter and Andrew casting their nets into the lake. Jesus said to them, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. At once they left their nets and followed Him.” (Matthew 4: 19-20) Can you imagine just meeting Jesus and immediately leaving everything you have known to go with Him? But that is just what Peter (and the other disciples too) did. For the next three years, Peter lived, learned from, and loved Jesus.
Peter became one of Jesus’ inner circle along with James and John. Peter ultimately became the main spokesman for the disciples, and he was the first one to declare Jesus as, “the Christ, the Son of the Living God” in Matthew 16:16. As I said though, Peter was not perfect and made several “mistakes.” Peter was the disciple who left the boat to walk on water out to Jesus in Matthew 14, but then he took his eyes off of Jesus, begin to doubt, and sink into the water. Jesus saved him, of course. Peter was the one who rebuked Jesus for Jesus speaking of His own death and was told by Jesus, “Get behind me Satan. You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of Men.” in Matthew 16:22. Worst of all, Peter declared to Jesus that he would never forsake Him, but then Peter denied knowing Jesus three times before Jesus’ crucifixion.
Through all of Peter’s ups and downs though, Jesus remained His loving Lord and faithful guide. He forgave Peter for his denial and told him then to “feed my sheep” before Jesus went back to heaven. Jesus called Peter, “the Rock” and promised that he would be instrumental in establishing the Christian church. Peter was present at Pentecost (the arrival of the Holy Spirit), spoke to the crowd, and gained some 3,000 new believers for Christ that day. Peter helped Gentiles (people who were not Jewish) to become Christians too. Peter wrote 1 and 2 Peter in the Bible, and the Book of Mark was written by John Mark who wrote the gospel based on Peter’s remembrances of his time with Jesus.
What then can we learn from Peter? Jesus overcomes fear: think of how Jesus saved Peter when he was walking on the water, began to doubt, and sink. Jesus forgives our sins: Jesus forgave Peter many times over for his wrong decisions. Jesus is patient with us: Jesus was patient but firm with Peter and corrected him as needed. Jesus sees us as He intends us to be:
Peter, and the other disciples too for that matter, were all rough and reckless, but Jesus knew their hearts and loved and taught them. And finally, Jesus often uses unlikely people to become His heroes: who would have ever thought such a man as Peter, an uneducated fisherman would become the rock on which the church is founded.
Jesus can make all the difference in our lives just as He did for Peter and the other disciples. Put your faith, hope, and trust in Jesus because He loves you and sees you for the wonderful person you are through Him.
Let’s say our prayer for the week. Father God, thank You for the example of Peter that You gave to us. His life shows us just how much You love all of us and can make us too “fishers of men.” Please help us to always trust in You and Your plan for our lives. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Ann Moody is pastor of Wilkesville First Presbyterian Church and the Middleport First Presbyterian Church.