<<an early follower of Jesus>>
Both Simon Peter and Andrew his brother were fishermen and were chosen by Jesus to be disciples. Peter became the recognised leader of the 12 disciples and along with James and John were the closest to Jesus. Peter wrote the two letters called First and Second Peter. He was called the apostle to the Jews as they were his focus, although he did minister to Cornelius and his family who were non-Jews (Act 10:23-48; Gal 2:7-9). It is believed he was crucified upside-down. His story – told in the Gospels, Acts, First and Second Peter, and mentioned in Galatians – indicates he was instrumental in the formation of the New Testament Church.
Lessons from his life: * Although a fisherman, which was considered a lowly occupation, he was chosen by Jesus and became one of the key figures in the early Church. In reply to the confession of faith that Peter gave – “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” – Jesus said, you are a stone, and upon me the chief cornerstone you will build my Church (Mt 16:16-18; 1 Pet 2:4-6). All who like Peter confess Jesus as Lord are a part of this worldwide spiritual entity. Christ’s job description for Peter was to “feed My sheep” (Jn 21:15-17). Jesus has His people in all strata of society. Do not limit your usefulness in the Kingdom of God based on any seeming lack of status or ability you have, rather make yourself fully available to be used mightily by God as Peter did.
* Peter, like us, had his failings: he was an impulsive person, saying and doing things without thinking, sleeping when he should have been supportive of Christ, and denying Jesus three times (Mt 17:4, 26:36-45,69-74; Jn 18:10). Jesus was patient with him. When Peter realised he had done wrong, he immediately repented and moved on to the next challenge in life (Lk 22:32,61,62). He didn’t allow past mistakes or experiences to prevent him from moving forward. Have I resolved the mistakes and failings of my past or are they holding me in bondage, preventing any significant growth in Christ?
* He is the only person besides Jesus who is recorded in Scripture as walking on water (Mt 14:22-33). At Jesus bidding, he attempted the naturally impossible. It was only when he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the waves that he began to sink. He cried out to the Lord for rescue. We need faith to step out and do what Christ says, overcoming the voices that say, ‘it’s never been done this way before’, ‘it won't work’. By keeping focused on Christ, your walk will be supernatural too.
* In his natural overconfidence and self-sufficiency Peter didn’t grasp the significance of the words of Jesus, “I will be killed” (Mt 16:21-23). He tried to talk Jesus out of such ‘silly ideas’. The natural mind does not comprehend the spiritual dimension. We need spiritual perception, not allowing our human thinking, desires and feelings to take centre stage, for often it is necessary to go through unpleasant situations in life to have the purposes of God outworked in and through us. It’s these experiences that make us strong and equipped for service (Lk 22:31,32).
* After receiving the power of the Holy Spirit there was a marked contrast in Peter. The crowd saw the courage of Peter and others who had received divine power for they had been transformed from being scared and denying even knowing Jesus to speaking boldly – “we can’t stop telling about Jesus!” The believers immediately prayed for an increased boldness and manifestation of the miracle-working power to counter-attack the human threats. God’s favour was on them with another outpouring of the Spirit (Act 2:14-40, 4:13-31). Has my life radically changed now that I know Jesus and have the Holy Spirit within? Do others see the difference as being beyond my capability to achieve and credit the transformation to God? What is my reaction to adverse attention?
* Peter and John did not neglect times of prayer (Act 3:1). When life is progressing well do I inadvertently reduce my times of intimate fellowship with God. Satan’s goal is to get us so busy and preoccupied with good things, as the disciples could have been with a quickly growing church, that God is no longer number one in our lives and devotion (Act 6:1-7). We need to be aware of such tactics that will reduce our effectiveness for God.
* Peter, ministered to a lame man, “What I have I give you. In the name of Jesus, walk”. As he helped the cripple up he was healed and credited the miracle to Jesus (Act 3:6-8,12, 4:10). Peter was only the channel through which the miracle power flowed, he knew that in him, there was no ability to perform any such thing and so he could not accept any praise for it. Do I ensure people know it is Christ who is at work in and through me, revealing God to humanity?
* The night before he could possibly have been executed he was sleeping (Act 12:1-17). He was thoroughly prepared to meet his maker and was full of peace. Would I have been so at peace if I was in that predicament? However much prayer was offered on his behalf and God miraculously rescued him from prison. It is the responsibility of the church to pray for its leaders and support each other. In response to believing prayer God, in His wisdom and sovereignty, sometimes delivers people out of impossible situations, and sometimes not (Heb 11:32-38).
* In the two books that bear his name, he warns about false teachers who would lead people astray. To counter this, he urges the people to ‘grow in Christ’ and their knowledge of God (2 Pet 3:18). Am I stagnating, only receiving what others feed me, or do I diligently search the Scriptures daily for myself and maintain a close relationship with the Holy Spirit and so guard against being deceived? (Act 17:11).