The spiritual growth of
Simeon Peter was not instant. It was slow and
painful for both Peter and Jesus. Peter is one of
the most fascinating men in the life of Christ. He
was a close intimate companion and friend who
eventually became a leader during the first century
The advantage of Peter's
constant willingness to act as a spokesman of the
twelve was his utter lack of sophistication, his
inability to say anything but what was uppermost in
his mind. When he spoke, he said what he thought.
Another might have used words which masked his real
thoughts from a desire not to hurt his Master's
feelings; not so Peter (F. F. Bruce).
That is what makes Peter
so interesting. He was honest, open, transparent and
expressive-responsive. Therefore, we know a lot more
about him. Since we know him best, it is easier for
us to identify with him.
THE MAN SIMON PETER
Peter asked more
questions than any other person in the Gospels. If a
person doesn't ask questions, it is because the mind
is dull, or the person is timid. All experienced
teachers know that no question is dumb. Questions
reveal the learning process. Out of timidity, many
people sit and hope someone else will ask their
question. The kind of questions Peter asked is
insightful. He had a way of asking the big
questions. They might have seemed simple on the
surface, but they proved to be at the center of
Jesus' goal and His motives of ministry.
Peter was a man of
intellectual capacity. We usually don't think of him
as the intuitive deep thinker such as John and Paul.
Peter, because of his high emotional energy is
always asking rapid-fire questions almost never
giving Christ time to answer.
To whom shall we go? You
have the words of eternal life.
How often shall my
brother sin against me and I forgive him?
Who is it that betrays
Why can't I follow You?
Peter was always
thinking, contemplating, mulling over the teaching
of Jesus, and when the opportunity arose, he was
quick to respond to Jesus.
Peter was a man of
That is probably the
first thing that comes to our minds when we think of
Peter. He is full of expressed emotions. It was with
great emotional outburst when he told Jesus, "I will
lay down my life for you." Later, we see him in the
darkness of the bitter night, sobbing his heart out
because he did not follow Jesus when the opportunity
With bitterness of spirit
Peter cried out to Jesus earlier in His ministry,
"Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord." In
repulsive anger he said to Jesus when our Lord was
speaking of His death, "That be far from You." Jesus
had to calm Peter down by forcefully telling him,
"Get behind me, Satan!"
Peter was a loyal
Peter exercised his
volitional choice in following Jesus. He was a man
of great will power when channeled in the right
direction. He finally sold his boats and committed
himself to Jesus. His loyalty is seen the night of
Jesus' arrest when he pulled out his short sword and
cut of the ear of the servant of the high priest.
There were also times
when he exercised poor judgment, just like we do. He
went off in the wrong direction and made poor
choices. However, we see Peter at the end of his
life still serving Christ and tradition tells us he
was crucified upside down because of his love for
Peter was a man of
Like us, Peter had his
strengths and his weaknesses. It is beautiful to see
how Jesus took this man and molded him into a solid
We love this man because
he is so much like each of us. He does the same
things we do only his mistakes and his emotional
outbursts have all been written down for us to
At the end of the day
when he has failed miserably we hear him weeping his
heart out and vowing never to do it again, only to
find him repeating everyone one of them again. Peter
drives perfectionists and legalists crazy. He breaks
all the rules. How would you have liked to have him
in your Monday morning 8:00 AM class?
THE MINISTRY TO SIMON
What did Jesus see
Andrew was Peter's
brother. He was the first to respond to Jesus (John
1:40). He went to Peter and said to him, "We have
found the Messiah" (v. 41). In the Old Testament the
Messiah was the "Anointed One." Kings, prophets and
priests were anointed with a flask of oil. It
denotes the king of Israel, "the LORD's anointed."
Jesus proved Himself to be the Messiah par
excellence, in all the roles of prophet, priest and
king. Andrew was saying we have found the Lord's
He brought Peter to
Jesus. Jesus looked at Peter and said, "You are
Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas"
John tells us Jesus
"looked at him." It was not a mere courteous glance,
but a penetrating look. It was the look of an
investigator. We could say, "He looked through him."
It is impossible for us
to imagine what Jesus will make of a people like
Peter when we bring them to Him. Our task is to be
an Andrew and bring them to Jesus in a nonjudgmental
Simon Bar-Yohanan is the
full name. Jesus changed his name to Kepha,
an Aramaic word meaning, "rock." Paul called him
Cephas, adding a final -s to adapt it to the Greek
language. The Aramaic form was translated into Greek
form, Peter (Petros).
is a piece or fragment of rock, or stone. Jesus
looked at Peter with a penetrating knowledge of him
and saw what Peter would become.
Jesus did not look at
Peter and see a failure. He did not look at Peter
and say, not him. I do not want him on my team. He
is a failure. Jesus looked at Peter and said here is
a piece of rock. Here is a stone that can be
polished into something strong and beautiful.
It is as if Peter's life
begins all over again and he becomes a new man.
Therefore, he needs a new name. Jesus sees what a
man can become. Jesus sees his potentials and
possibilities. That is not to say Jesus did not see
the everyday failures or shortcomings of Peter.
Jesus was coming and going out on trips with Peter,
teaching him, encouraging him to reach his
potential. Jesus was creating stable leadership in
Peter. Jesus knew Peter better than any man had
known him, and was committed to him.
G. Campbell Morgan
observes that Peter did not say a word. He is not
prone to silence, remember. Was Peter in "utter
astonishment"? Did it sound "incredible" to Peter?
Perhaps the silence said more than any word could
have on the occasion. "Me, Lord? You're kidding."
Jesus was saying to
Peter, I am going to make you into something you are
not. Perhaps in the rough Peter was the most
undependable of all the men Jesus called. But when
Jesus was through with him he was stable as a rock.
Jesus comes our way and
looks at us and sees a rough stone. He sees our
strengths and weakness, vulnerabilities and our
possibilities. Jesus believes in us. Even when no
one else sees any potential, and when we probably
don't believe in ourselves, Jesus comes along and
illumines our hearts to see what He sees. Christ
never gave up on Peter. He doesn't give up on us,
either. Jesus kept Peter near to Himself. I know
someone who believes in you because He is able to
make you exactly what you are not.
A Time of Crisis in
Ministry of Christ
The apostle John tells us
about a time in the ministry of Jesus when the
disciples were dropping out like flies. They didn't
like what they heard. Jesus' teaching came across as
dried, rough, harsh, difficult statements (John
6:60). "As a result of this many of His disciples
withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore" (v.
66). Jesus was no longer the popular teacher. When
Jesus was alive on the earth you couldn’t twist His
saying into whatever you wanted Him to say. You
couldn't make Him into your cultic Christ. Jesus
turned to His disciples and said, "You do not want
to go away also, do you?" (v. 67).
Simon Peter comes to the
rescue, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the
words of eternal life. And we have believed [and
still believe] and have come [by experience, and
still know] that You are the Holy One of God"
[Pounds' paraphrase in brackets] (v. 68-69).
Because of Peter's
expressive-responsiveness, our hearts are
strengthened. We can identify with his testimony. He
expresses our thoughts perfectly. That must have
been the feeling of the other disciples.
Then Jesus revealed to
Peter the heart breaking sad fact, "Did I Myself not
choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a
devil?" (v. 70). John tells us He was referring to
Who is Jesus?
Matthew records for us
one of the greatest moments in the life of Peter.
Jesus was busy teaching the twelve. As part of His
discipleship program, He had sent them out to towns
and villages on various preaching and teaching
trips. When they returned Jesus was asking the
disciples, "Who do the people say that the Son of
They began to respond to
Jesus, "Some say John the Baptist; some, Elijah; and
others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets" (Matthew
Then Jesus asked the
disciples the important question, "But who do you
say that I am?" In a flash, Peter responds with all
of his intellectual and emotional acumen. "Thou art
the Christ, the Son of the living God" (v. 16). You
are the Messiah, the Anointed of the LORD, and You
are the Son of the Living God.
A-plus, Peter. Right on!
Jesus answered him and said, "Blessed are you, Simon
Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this
to you, but My Father who is in heaven" (v. 17). As
my mother would have said, you out did yourself,
Peter. That was one of those great moments in the
disciple's life. I think Peter meant those words
with all his heart and soul. He had the answer, but
was he clear in his understanding of who Jesus is?
Peter is headed in the
right direction. He is a good student, but there was
more that Peter needed to understand.
purpose in Jesus' death
this great affirmation of the deity of Jesus, Peter
is brought face to face with something utterly
beyond his willingness to accept. Jesus brought him
near the cross with all of its ugliness.
Matthew tells us as part
of the training program Jesus, "began to show His
disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer
many things from the elders and chief priests and
scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third
day" (v. 21). The words of Jesus were clear as a
bell. Peter and the others heard Him, but they
didn't hear Him. From the first announcement of this
great fact, Peter and the rest of the disciples
refused to believe their ears. They did not want to
hear Jesus talk about His death.
"And Peter took Him aside
and began to rebuke Him, saying, 'God forbid it,
Lord! This shall never happen to You'" (v. 22). You
can see the emotional response of Peter to the very
idea because he "took Him aside," i.e. he in a
protecting manner grabbed Jesus' arm as if holding
someone back from suicide. That was Peter's
reaction. It blew his mind. He could not and would
not grasp the idea that Jesus, the Son of God, had
to go to the cross and die. Only after Jesus rose
from the dead did Peter understand the reason why.
Peter was so angry and
upset Jesus "turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind
Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you
are not setting your mind on God's interests, but
man's'" (v. 23).
We love Peter because he
always tells us what he is thinking. One moment he
is so in tune to the will of God that he loudly
proclaims, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the
living God!" Then he misses the whole point. He is
an instrument of Satan, who would have done anything
to keep Jesus from going to the cross. Peter had
good intentions, but deadly wrong. Peter was
"minding the things of men," not literally, "the
things of God."
Then Jesus revealed to
the disciples and Peter that not only must He take
up the cross, and suffer and die, but also His
disciples are cross-bearers. "If any one wishes to
come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his
cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his
life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for
My sake shall find it" (16:24-25).
Like Peter and his
friends, Christianity in our day wants a Christ who
is meek and mild, sweet and convenient to worship.
Jesus demands that we take up our cross daily, come,
and follow Him. He will have it no other way.
Like any good teacher,
Jesus let the disciples have some time to ponder
these great moments of revelation. Six days later
Jesus took with Him Peter, James and John and
brought them up to a high mountain by themselves. It
was time to reinforce the great truths of last week.
reinforces the fact of the cross
Jesus "was transfigured
before them; and His face shone like the sun, and
His garments became as white as light. And behold,
Moses and Elijah appeared to them talking with Him"
This is Moses first visit
to the Promised Land. Remember that he was buried on
the other side of Jordan because of his sin. Here
are the great representatives of Judaism, Moses the
giver of the Law, and Elijah the representative of
the great prophets of God. Moses has been dead
fifteen centuries and Elijah has been dead nine
centuries. Keep in mind these men are alive talking
to Jesus on a mountainside!
What were they
discussing? They were talking about the very things
Peter was shunning, the "exodus" of Jesus. Luke 9:31
tells us Moses and Elijah "who, appearing in glory,
were speaking of His departure which He was about to
accomplish at Jerusalem." They were talking about
His "departure," His "exodus," or journeying. They
were discussing with Jesus His going away. It is the
same word that is always used of Israel going out of
Egypt, going through the desert to the Promised
The heavenly Father said,
"Shut up and listen Peter!" Peter doesn't know what
to do when he sees the ancient patriarch and prophet
alive with Jesus. Peter starts talking out of his
head about building brush huts. "Lord, it is good
for us to be here. Let's build tabernacles for You,
and Moses and Elijah." It may be as Morgan suggests
that Peter was saying it is better for us to be in
glory and speak of heavenly things, rather than the
ugliness of a death by crucifixion.
However, it was a subject
that Peter had to learn. Peter would have to go
through the fires before he could enjoy glory with
It was later, after the
resurrection and ascension that Peter would fully
comprehend the lesson. He wrote in 1 Peter 1:3,
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused
us to be born again to a living hope through the
resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."
A trying moment for
The night before the
crucifixion was the most horrible night in the life
of Peter. He told his Lord, "I will die for you."
Luke tells us Jesus again is preparing Peter and the
others for His death the very next day. "Simon,
Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift
you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your
faith may not fail; and you, when once you have
turned again, strengthen your brothers" (Luke
The Lord was storing up
in Peter's mind words that He would use in the days
to come for his restoration. Those are pregnant
words. "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has obtained by
asking permission to sift you like wheat."
How would you have
responded to those words if you were Peter? Peter
couldn't believe his words. "Lord, with You I am
ready to go both to prison and to death!" (v. 33). I
really think Peter meant it with all his heart. I am
willing to die for you. Have you ever told the Lord
that? I have. And I have meant every word of it. And
like Peter I have found myself on occasion feeling
the sting of it.
Jesus told Peter He had
prayed for him, "that your faith may not fail; and
you, when once you have turned again, strengthen
your brothers." You are going to fail Peter. That is
part of the learning process. When I have restored
you Peter and you have learned from it, strengthen
Is this not the same
process the Lord uses with us today? He is
constantly removing the false securities from our
lives so we are forced to trust Him, and not in
ourselves. Have you quit warming yourself at the
"Lord, with You I am
ready to go both to prison and to death!"
Jesus said to him, "I
tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow today until
you have denied three times that you know Me"
(v.34). We know the story all to well. For the rest
of his life every time a rooster crowed it was a
reminder of that fateful night.
After Jesus rose from the
dead He had a special word for Peter. To the first
women who arrived at the empty tomb the angel said,
"He is risen; He is not here; behold, here is the
place where they laid Him. But go, tell His
disciples and Peter . . . " (Mark 16:7). Don't
forget to tell Peter! Jesus and the angels knew
Peter's temperament. They knew how he was responding
to the death of Jesus. They knew his volatile
emotional life. "Go, tell . . . Peter." The idea is
and make sure you be sure and tell Peter. Peter had
denied Him, and Jesus wanted Peter to hear the good
news that He had risen from the dead. Jesus was
restoring Peter. He was strengthening Peter's faith
in Him. Make sure Peter gets the word.
God had Peter in the
refiner's fire purging his impulsiveness, focusing
him on God's eternal purpose. God was at work in
"In the hour of darkness
and difficulty the true attitude of those who
believe in God is that of waiting for Him. The only
strength sufficient to enable men to wait for God is
that of love to Him, for love is the capacity for
receiving the interpretation of the things which He
is doing" (G. Campbell Morgan).
On the day of His
resurrection in the late evening or at night, the
disciples have gathered. Two men have met Jesus on
the road to Emmaus and returned to Jerusalem to tell
the disciples. When the disciples opened the door
they said, "The Lord has really risen, and has
appeared to Simon." Why, Simon is one of the first
whom Jesus visited that day. They began to relate
the experiences of the day, and "how He was
recognized by them in the breaking of the bread"
"And while they were
telling these things, He Himself stood in their
midst" (v. 36).
Jesus loved the disciple
and understood him. Jesus believed in Peter. One man
alone with God. What an experience that must have
A fishing trip
You would think that
Peter would be stable as a rock after seeing Jesus
alive. But there is still room for growth.
Sometime during those
forty days after Jesus' resurrection and before His
ascension we find Peter and the disciples fishing
down on the Sea of Tiberias. Peter said to the other
disciples, "I am going fishing" (John 21:3). Was
Peter abandoning his call to preach? Perhaps
economic reasons dictated the fishing trip. On the
other hand, perhaps it was to keep body and soul
together because Peter couldn't stand all of this
appearing and disappearing of Jesus in His post
resurrection appearances. Scholars tell us the
statement "I go fishing" implies permanent return to
his old profession of a commercial fisherman.
They fish all night and
don't catch a single fish. Jesus stood on the beach
and called out to them to cast the net on the right
hand side of the boat and they would find a catch.
They did and the catch was so great they could not
haul it in because of the number of fish. Simon
Peter drew the net to land, full of large fish, a
hundred and fifty-three of the biggest fish in the
It was one more of the
lessons Jesus needed to teach Peter. After they ate
the breakfast Jesus had prepared for them, He drew
Peter out. Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of
John, do you love me more than these?" Jesus could
have been saying one of three things: "Do you love
me more than these disciples?" Or, "Do you love Me
more than these disciples love Me?" He could even
mean, "Simon, do you love Me more than these fish?"
Simon, "Tend My lambs."
Simon "Shepherd My sheep." Simon, "Tend My sheep."
Simon, keep your eye on
the task. Keep focused. "Follow Me!" Keep on
following Me! Follow steadfastly, continually. Join
Me in the way.
It is like Jesus gathers
up all the lessons in Peter's experiences with Him
and says remember your lessons, Peter. Now that you
have been restored, remember you have been restored
for a purpose, feed my sheep.
Perhaps it is ten days
later when we next meet up with Peter. The day of
Pentecost comes and Peter and the 120 disciples are
gathered in a room at the Temple worshiping God. The
Spirit of God filled them, the church was born, and
Peter preaches his finest sermon.
"Men of Israel, listen to
these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to
you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which
God performed through Him in your midst, just as you
yourselves know––this Man, delivered up by the
predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you
nailed to the cross by the hands of godless men and
put Him to death. And God raised Him up again,
putting an end to the agony of death, since it was
impossible for Him to be held in its power" (Acts
Three thousand people
were saved that day and added to the church. It grew
from 120 to 3,000 in one message by a man Jesus had
prepared to be used of God. But it didn't happen
overnight. Jesus had been preparing Peter for that
day. He was the instrument God chose to deliver the
message. Peter was used of God because God had
prepared him for the hour.
THE METHOD JESUS USES
WITH US TODAY
Let's examine some
abiding principles and practical applications in the
life of Peter. What does he say to me today?
When Jesus sees a
person He sees what we cannot or will not see.
Jesus sees what we can
become in His grace and power. We tend to see only
the ugly and the negative because of our sin and
depravity. However, Jesus sees what we cannot see.
He sees what we can become in His grace.
When Jesus calls a
person He is committed to that person's spiritual
Jesus works with a piece
of clay until He makes it into an instrument He can
use in His kingdom. Spiritual growth is slow, and
not always steady. Nevertheless, Jesus is patient
with us. With spiritual comprehension and
assimilation comes another great truth. How tragic
when we halt with God. How tragic when believers
will not take God at His word and apply it to their
lives and grow. Am I responding to His word and
growing in His grace? Am I willing to walk by faith?
"When Jesus bids us
come and follow He bids us come and die."
Discipleship involves the
cross. It demands that we die to ourselves, and
dying to self is never easy. However, there is never
growth in the spiritual life until we accept that
principle in our lives. We don't just die once, we
die again and again. It is a daily dying to
self-interests and selfishness and following Christ.
When Jesus comes
our way He demands we wait on Him.
We tend to run ahead of
God, or lag behind Him. One of the important things
Peter had to learn was to wait on God. He was always
jumping ahead of Him, doing it his own way, in his
own strength and in his independence. Jesus took
Peter and taught him the patience of waiting on God.
Jesus focused Peter on the sovereignty of God
instead of his impetuous running here and there.
Jesus believed in Peter. He saw that which He wanted
to polish in Peter and made him exactly what he was
not––a solid rock.
Christ comes our way and
He strips away one by one all of our false
securities, until He can teach us to wait on Him and
trust Him for that which we can not do for
ourselves. I have often heard it said, "God helps
those who help themselves." No, He does not. God
helps those who wait upon Him and trust in Him. We
don't need God if we can do it ourselves. That is
the problem. We cannot help ourselves.
Title: Luke 22:31-34
One More Chance, Peter
Series: People in Life of