Who was Peter?
- Peter was originally named Simon.
- Simon was originally from Bethsaida (John 1:44) and lived in Capernaum (Mark 1:29).
- He was married (1 Corinthians 9:5).
- He ran a fishing business with James and John (Luke 5:10).
- Simon met Jesus through his brother, Andrew.
- Upon meeting Simon, Jesus gave him a new name: Cephas (Aramaic) or Peter (Greek), which means “rock” (John 1:40-42).
- Later, Jesus officially called Peter to follow Him, producing a miraculous catch of fish (Luke 5:1-7). Immediately following this, Peter left everything behind to follow the Lord (verse 11).
- For the next three years, Peter lived as a disciple of the Lord Jesus.
- Being a natural-born leader, Peter became the unofficial spokesman for the Twelve (Matthew 15:15, 18:21, 19:27; Mark 11:21; Luke 8:45, 12:41; John 6:68, 13:6-9, 36).
- It was Peter who first confessed Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).
- Peter was part of the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples, along with James and John.
- Only those three were present when Jesus was transfigured on the mountain (Matthew 17:1-2).
- Peter and John were given the special task of preparing the final Passover meal (Luke 22:8).
- Peter was enthusiastic, faithful, strong-willed, impulsive, and, at times, brash.
- For example, it was Peter who left the boat to walk on the water to Jesus (Matthew 14:28-29).
- It was Peter who took Jesus aside to rebuke Him for speaking of His death (Matthew 16:22).
- It was Peter who drew his sword and attacked the servant of the high priest in the garden of Gethsemane (John 18:10).
- It was Peter who boasted that he would never forsake the Lord, even if everyone else did (Matthew 26:33-35), and then later denied three times that he even knew the Lord (verses 69-74).
- Jesus made a special point of forgiving and restoring Peter and recommissioning him as an apostle (John 21:6-7, 15-17).
- Through all of Peter’s ups and downs, the Lord Jesus remained his loving Lord and faithful guide. Jesus told Peter that he would be instrumental in establishing Jesus’ Church (Matthew 16:18-19).
- At Pentecost, Peter was the main preacher to the crowd in Jerusalem (Acts 2:14), and the New Testament Church began with an influx of about 3,000 new believers that were saved that day (verse 41).
- Later, Peter healed a lame beggar (Acts 3:2-8) and preached boldly before the high ranking Sanhedrin (Acts 4:1-22).
- Even imprisonment, beatings, and threats could not dampen Peter’s resolve to preach the risen Christ (Acts 5).
- Peter struggled in the area of his bias for the Jews and his favoritism toward those he was with at the time. Thankfully, he showed growth and repentance upon brotherly rebuke and correction. (Acts 15:7-11; Galatians 2:11-14).
- Later in life, Peter spent time with John Mark (1 Peter 5:13), who, with some of Peter’s insights, wrote the gospel of Mark.
- Peter wrote 1 Peter and 2 Peter, likely between A.D. 60 and 68.
- The prophecy of Christ, that Peter would die a martyr’s death (John 21:18-19), came true, as he was killed for his faith.
Peter’s Faith and Struggles
In our Matthew 14 text on Monday, we read the account of Jesus walking on water when Peter asked Jesus to tell him to come to Him on the water. When Jesus did, Peter climbed over the side and began to walk on the water toward Him. I want you to realize that the storm and the wind were still raging, but Peter’s faith in Jesus gave him a confidence to trust Him to do the unthinkable.
Consider with me, for a moment, the disciples who had stayed in the boat. What caused them to stay in the boat and not follow Peter out onto the water? Answer: to them, the boat was safer. They trusted the craftsmanship of the boat more than the power of Jesus. Are you trusting more in your manmade boats than in Jesus?
The question is this: What is your “boat” in your life? What is the thing you rely on to weather life’s storms? For you it might be a relationship, or it might be your job or money, or it might be your addiction (internet, drugs, eating, TV) that you look to for your identity, personal significance, sense of security, purpose for living, and happiness.
Essentially, these things become the functional “boat” in which you put your trust. I know many “Christians” who think their trust is in Jesus, but when the storms of life rage, their trust is in a functional savior and not in the one, true Savior. Your “boat” is something that has become more fundamental than God in your life for your identity, personal significance, sense of security, purpose for living, and joy. Instead, we must trust in Jesus—not ourselves, not our functional boats—Jesus!
Matthew 14:29-31 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Peter, with the power of Jesus at work, was able to successfully walk on the water. This is incredible!
In Christ, we can, and will, do things we could never do on our own. But the reality is, the storms still rage. This world is still fallen in sin, and God is still redeeming and working out His plan of redemption while we testify of the gospel and make disciples.
The temptations constantly before us are the plentiful distractions of this world vying for our focus. The problem is, when we put our focus on temporary things, we take our eyes off of Jesus. I ask you plainly today: Where is your focus? When the storms come, do you focus on Jesus, or do you put your focus on the storms?
Peter modeled this for us—it’s a focus thing, a forward thing! When he focused on the problem, the storm, he forgot to stay focused on the solution—Jesus!
When we focus on the temporary troubles of today, we forget that we have a God that is with us and is ultimately the One who holds all things in His hands—even the storms.
When Peter stepped out of the boat, the storm was already raging. In that moment, his faith and focus were on Christ who was his power and hope.
This shows us that on our own, we will not endure the race before us. We will rely on our own power; we will place our hope in our circumstances, and we will hope our circumstances will change or that we can change them. We will not place our hope and trust in our God who remains constant despite our circumstances.
One of my favorite passages in the New Testament helps us with this. I’ll highlight a little from the NLT.
Hebrews 12:1 … And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.
Hebrews 12:2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish.
I love the words to the old hymn that go like this: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”
Read again Matthew 26:30-75.
Peter’s struggles were put on display, exponentially, the night Jesus was arrested. While the Jewish trials were taking place, Peter found his way to the house of the high priest and was waiting with others outside in the courtyard. They were awaiting the verdict in much the same way you or I would gather with others around a TV.
I can only imagine the conversation taking place about this historical event. Imagine their speculation about what was going on and what might happen to Jesus. What a prime moment for Peter to defend his friend. But, he didn’t; he decided to save his own hide instead.
Read again Matthew 26:69-75.
There is no greater betrayal than to be so very close to someone and then to not acknowledge that you even know him. Many of you know what it is like to experience great betrayal. We can be confident that Jesus sympathizes with us when we go through this, because He, too, experienced deep betrayal by His best friends.
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
While many of us can relate, in this story, to Jesus and the pain we feel when betrayed by someone we love, you might be feeling like you relate more to Peter as the betrayer. Thank God for grace, forgiveness, and restoration. Thank God that He pursues us when we don’t deserve it. He paid the high price for our betrayal against a holy God. He restores us to walk in the newness of life and to live for Him, just like He did for Peter. Look at our next passage we read this week.
Jesus sought Peter out and led him through his restoration. Three times Peter confirmed his love for Jesus. Jesus commissioned Peter to feed His sheep. And oh, did Peter go on to preach! The man that was once timid and constantly messing up was redeemed and empowered to be a leader in the early church and to be someone God would work through to do mighty things.
We must remember that although we mess up greatly at times, God is able to restore and sanctify us in mighty ways.
By His grace and for His glory,
Soldiers for Jesus MC