The Bible portrays Peter, James and John as the close associates of Jesus. Out of these three disciples, Peter’s inconsistent spiritual growth is a source of encouragement for all of us, as we are also inconsistent in our spiritual walks but the spiritual journey of Peter started when he was only an illiterate fisherman.
Calling of Peter
All the four Gospels have recorded the calling of Peter with slight variations. The Gospel of Matthew and Mark recorded Jesus directly calling Simon while he was at the seashore with his brother Andrew. Luke put it differently as Jesus performed a miracle by filling their nets with fishes, and then He called both the brothers to follow Him. John captured it in a different way saying that it was Andrew, who heard John the Baptist telling that Jesus is the Messiah, and then followed Jesus, and brought his brother Simon to Jesus.
There, Jesus named him Cephas, meaning Peter. Further, John recorded that Peter went out to fish after the resurrection of Jesus, and again Jesus called him back by repeating that initial miracle. From these records, we can understand that Peter was persistently called by Jesus, several times for His ministry.
In John 1:42, Jesus called Simon, Cephas (Aramaic), meaning Peter (Greek), the rock (English). God did the same thing with Abram and called him Abraham, meaning Father of many. Jacob He changed to Israel, meaning one who struggled with the angel of God.
Simon means the one who hears but Jesus called Peter the rock, because Jesus desired to make him like a rock by listening to His words (Romans 10:17), instead of listening to the voice of the world. The below verse affirms the reason for the change of name, as Simon, the son of Jonah, heard the voice of God and became a rock suitable for Jesus to build upon His Church.
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.Matthew 16:17-18
When God changes our names, it is significant and not without a purpose. While we are called as His children, we must make ourselves worthy of living as His children to inherit His Kingdom. By taking the word of God seriously and applying it in our daily lives will make us a rock to withstand the social obligations and invitations to conform to this world.
Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame.Isaiah 50:7
An Excitable Young Person
Peter always spoke without thinking about it and acted immediately without understanding the context. Unaware of what he was doing, he commanded Jesus what to do. When Jesus was walking on water and approaching the boat in which the disciples were travelling, all his closest allies took Him for a ghost. But Peter asked Jesus,
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said.Matthew 14:28-29
Peter walked some distance looking at Jesus but when he tried walking on his own he started to sink. Many a time, when our ministries are blessed by Jesus, we try to stand alone, but later we fall. Peter cutting off the ear of a soldier at the garden is yet another proof of his excitable character.
Jesus exposed Peter’s pledge to follow Jesus at any cost by foretelling his denial and shows Peter’s emotional way of decision making without the leading of Spirit. Moses, after being called by Yahweh, tried to exhibit his integrity to get approval by his fellow citizens. But it caused him a waiting period of forty years before he could return to start the mission that God had assigned to him.
Commitment: Initially, Jesus foretold that He will build his church on Peter, the rock. Then he told Peter to heal his brothers, and finally, Jesus assigned him with the task of caring for His sheep and feeding His lambs. Despite his weaknesses like being excitable, speaking out of context, and making hasty decisions without the leading of the Spirit, Peter’s commitment to God surpassed everything and he accomplished the tasks assigned to him meticulously.
Repentance: This is possible because Peter had a heart of repentance. Unlike Judas, Peter vehemently wept after denying Jesus and thoroughly repented for his mistake. Whatever be our mistakes, we should come back to the Lord with a heart of repentance.
Eye Witness: Being present with Jesus during the transfiguration and witnessing the empty tomb after the resurrection, encouraged Peter to preach the Gospel boldly to the people who crucified Jesus. He boldly pleaded to the crowd to save themselves from that corrupt generation.
Without a personal encounter with Jesus, we can not minister His words to others. Sometimes we may feel that we are reading the Bible on the pretext of our ministries, and we seldom read the Bible for ourselves.
The best way is that we should read and meditate the word for ourselves first and with the guidance that we get for ourselves, we should preach to others. We cannot split our reading habit and meditation, one for preaching and the other for self-edification. Jesus sanctified us with the truth to make us holy and the word of God is that truth.
Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.John 17:17-19
Jesus asked Peter to sanctify himself in the truth through an encounter with Him and then asked him to strengthen others.
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”Luke 22:31-32
Servant-hood: Initially, Peter did not allow Jesus to wash his feet by ranking the ministry of the Kingdom at a different level. But soon, Peter realized the importance of obedience and learned to serve others with a humble heart, through the action of his Master (John 13:12-17).
Luke recorded Peter’s first sermon which he preached to clarify the misinterpretation by the people about the work of the Holy Spirit at the upper room for a state of intoxication. Through his maiden speech, three thousand people accepted Jesus as their saviour (Acts 2:41).
The blood that Jesus shed on the cross was imbibed in Peter’s body that people laid down the sick to have Peter’s shadow fall on them (Acts 5:15). Peter healed the lame man (Acts 3), raised Dorcas from her deathbed (Acts 9:40) and served a prison term on account of the Gospel (Acts 12). He could do all these because God continued to strengthen him.
Many servants of God fear persecution and their preaching vividly discloses their fear in front of their congregations. The step by step transformation of Peter’s life may encourage those preachers to leave their apprehensions.
Peter himself recorded his testimony about his spiritual maturity in his book (1 Peter 2:3-4). Further, he gave the believers a road map to reach the summit of love in verses 5 to 7.
Peter emphasized the truth that we can reach out to the fullness of love by developing our faith at different stages of our lives. He warned the fruitless believers that if they are unable to reach the summit of love by processing their belief, they are forgetful of their cleansing. In other words, they do not have the assurance of forgiveness in their lives.
Lord, grant us the assurance of forgiveness so that we can process our initial belief through various stages to reach the summit of love.