Many fished in Jesus’ day, but always from the shore. Israelites were desert people, so those who went out from shore in boats were brave indeed. “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt 4:19). They left at once to follow Him.
LESSON: God knows all about us – there is nothing hidden from Him – yet He has called us to himself. No point in trying to hide things from Him – we just follow because He has called!
Over the month of September we will look briefly at encounters that Jesus had with four of His disciples. I think we can draw some personal conclusions from selected experiences they had with the Lord. Today I think about Simon Peter – the most well known of the twelve. Consider:
His calling. Simon and his brother were at work when Jesus called them both. Many fished in Jesus’ day, but always from the shore. Israelites were desert people, so those who went out from shore in boats were brave indeed. “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt 4:19). They left at once to follow Him. Simon was brave, outspoken, impulsive, used to hard work, emotional. Lots of good stuff but also some bad. Yet Jesus, knowing all of that, called him to follow. LESSON: God knows all about us – there is nothing hidden from Him – yet He has called us to himself. No point in trying to hide things from Him – we just follow because He has called!
Walking on water. You know the story – Jesus came by the boat in a storm, walking on the water. Although terrified, Peter alone of the rest responded to Jesus’ admonition to take courage and not be afraid for it was indeed Him. He said, ‘Lord if it’s you, then tell me to come to you on the water.’ Who does that?? And the Master said, ‘come.’ As Simon realized the enormity of what he was doing, he looked down and sank. LESSON: The Christian life is all about focus. Focus on circumstances and sink – focus on Jesus Christ and watch what He can do. We enter the realm of the supernatural when we do this. Where is your focus today?
His new name. The famous question from Jesus at Caesarea Philippi – “who do you say that I am?” was met with Simon’s stunning reply – “You are the Christ, the son of the living God.” Following Jesus every day and all day, he became convinced of who Jesus really was. At this, he was renamed Peter (small stone) with the greatest news of who Jesus is (massive rock). LESSON: How is the Church built? How does the Kingdom come? When the small stones – you and me – carry the message of the huge stone (Jesus is Lord) to the world.
Clean and unclean. The vision given to Peter at a critical juncture was a sheet with unclean animals on it to which God said, ‘kill and eat.’ The issue was – who is kosher enough to receive the Good News? Up to that point, the Church was all Jewish, but the Lord was about to open the floodgates to Gentiles as well – the first would come through Peter. This vision blew Peter’s view wide open and soon he would be leading Cornelius and his household to salvation! I think of the list of wickedness that Paul said would never inherit the Kingdom of God (I Cor. 6:11) – he finishes that statement by saying ‘and such were some of you…’ The blood of Christ washes white as snow. LESSON: God is calling people to himself all the time – maybe some people we have written off as unreachable. Let’s not underestimate the work of the Holy Spirit in drawing people to the God who made them and loves them!
Denial and restoration. Three times Peter denied his Lord – until the cock crowed as Jesus said, and Peter went out and wept bitter tears. Think of the emotions attached to this terrible experience: fear, regret, shame, hurt and resignation. We see his grave failure starkly on the pages of the Bible. But at the end of John 21 we also see the restoration given by the Lord. “Feed my lambs, take care of my sheep, feed my sheep.” Three times for three denials. Think of the emotions attached to this profound experience: restoration, forgiveness, and renewed calling! LESSON: Whatever your failures, come to the Lord with them. He will receive you, restore you and recommission you to His service.
A few lessons from Peter’s encounters with Jesus. Can you think of more? What lessons can they teach you?
Pastor Leon Throness