Peter: A Disciple of Jesus
Peter, The Man
We have heard many things about Peter. But how much do you really know about this man? People have unfairly judged Peter on a small part of his life without giving him the benefit of the doubt about some other things. They have taken little snippets here and there.
Let's put Peter on the psychiatrist's couch and learn some intimate details about this man known as Simon Peter, Simon Barjona, the Rock. You will find out that in spite of himself he really did love Jesus, and he was loyal to his Master.
Peter’s name is in the Bible 183 times, more times than anyone else in the New Testament with the exception of Paul. Peter was a fisherman. He owned a lucrative fishing business. His brother was named Andrew, his father named was named John. Peter was married. We know that because Jesus healed his mother-in-law. And Peter was a Galilean,
Some people have said Peter had foot in the mouth disease because he was often saying things first without thinking. Close examination will show that what Peter said many times came from his emotions and not from logic. They came from his head and not from his heart.
“And who do YOU say I am? (Matthew 16:15)
Peter, The Disciple
Peter had something special going on within him. Throughout Peter's tenure as a disciple, Peter heard things along with the other disciples, but only Peter went a step further. He took the lead in most cases.
In Matthew 16:13-20, Jesus questioned His disciples about who people said He was. The disciples responded to the question about the public opinion. But when it came to the personal question, “And who do YOU say I am?” it was only Peter who answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”
The answer was not revealed to him by man, but by God. Because of His intimate relationship with Jesus, Peter had come to know Him not through his own mind but through what had happened within him.
Peter died at age 75. But before he died, he went on to write two books of the New Testament named after him; I and II Peter. Peter inspired John Mark to write the first gospel and Peter loved Jesus so much, he was crucified upside because he did want to be crucified the same way Jesus was.
Peter in the Gospels
In the Gospels we travel along with Peter as he became one of the three in the inner circle. Peter went on to be with Jesus in boats, on mountains, on roads, on a lake, and finally in a garden. We find Peter not wanting Jesus to wash his feet, then going to the other extreme by telling Jesus to wash His whole body. We find Peter wanting to build three tabernacles on Mount Transfiguration, and we find Peter walking momentarily on water. We find Peter on the rooftop as are told about his dream about a sheet full of unclean animals.I am glad Peter had that dream that night because I learned through this that what God has called clean we should not call unclean.
Peter was not the first disciple to be called according to the Book of John even though his name comes first in every list of the disciples in the Bible. Peter and his younger brother Andrew were disciples of John the Baptist. Then when Andrew found out about Jesus, he took his brother Simon to Jesus. It was here that Simon became Peter. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas (which means Peter). (John 1:42)
In Matthew 14:15-33, Jesus was talking to the disciples, but it was Peter who was bold enough to get out of the boat and attempted to walk on water. Peter wanted to please Jesus and he was willing to try doing the impossible.
We find Peter warming his hands by a fire as he denied his master three times. And on the third occasion, the Bible says Peter was swearing and cursing. And this was AFTER he had declared that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. And AFTER he had received the keys of the kingdom.
You see Peter had a special connection with Jesus that the other eleven disciples didn't have. Peter was very protective of Jesus. When Jesus said he was going to the cross, Peter said, “Far be it from me, Master.” However, Jesus didn’t need his protection. Rather, He wanted his confession: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus also had a very special relationship with Peter. In the Old Testament, God changed the names of many people included Abram to Abraham, Sarah, Jacob; however, we read only once that Jesus changed someone's name and that was Peter’s. It was Peter that Jesus singled out and said, “ I have prayed for you because Satan intends to sift you like wheat. And it was only Peter that Jesus asked the question three times, “Do you love me?”
Jesus singled Peter out on many occasions. In Mark 8:33 Jesus looked at the disciples, but rebuked Peter. After His resurrection, He told Mary Magdalene, “Go tell my disciples and Peter...”
Peter in the Book of Acts
Peter dominates the first 11 chapters of the Book of Acts where we see him preaching the first sermon on the Day of Pentecost and 3,000 souls were saved. Peter went on to preach other sermons. According to Acts 4:4, Peter preached and 5,000 men were saved like Jesus has fed the 5,000 before.
We go to prison with Peter as he is chained to guards. We go through the prison gates that the angels opened for Peter. We travel along with Peter through the Book of Acts as he ministers to Cornelia, who became the first Gentile convert at Antioch.
What We Learned From Peter
From the scriptures, we have learned a lot because of what Jesus taught Peter.
- We have learned to forgive 70 x 7 times.
- It was through Peter that we have learned to render under Caesar what is Caesar when Jesus taught him about paying taxes.
- We should be glad that Peter made the statement about building three tabernacles on Mount Transfiguration because it teaches us that no matter how good something it, we cannot stay on the mountaintop. We need to come back down and minister to the people who are saying, “Yea though I walk through the valley...”
- It was through Peter that we have learned to preach with power when we examine those great sermons in the Book of Acts.
- It was through Peter that we have learned that because we don't like someone we can't cut off their ear. Mike Tyson learned it the hard way about this one when he bit off Evander Holyfield's ear in l996.
- And it was Peter who told us to cast all our cares upon the Lord for He cares for us. It was Peter who told us to make our calling and election sure.
- And we can’t forget that it was Peter who gave us four descriptions of us as Christians. He told us that we are "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy name and a people set apart for God" (1 Peter 2:9).
The Peter Principle
Understanding Peter helps us to understand the Peter Principle.
- Peter was not perfect. And neither are we. But we serve a perfect God.
- Peter learned from his mistakes and became a changed man. In every one of the instances where people said Peter put his foot in his mouth, Peter was man enough to admit he had made a mistake. Peter had a teachable spirit.
You see, the Peter Principle doesn’t tell us to mess up. However, the Peter Principle lets us know that when we mess up we can confess and God will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Peter messed up royally. But we see what happened to him in the end.
Peter made mistakes, but he was used to do a lot for the kingdom of God. We made mistakes, but we serve a God with a big eraser. If we ask for forgiveness, He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Our name might not be Peter, but I am sure he doesn't mind if we use the Peter Principle!
Conclusion and Life Applications
In conclusion, remember what the Peter Principle says.
- The way you start out doesn’t have to be the way you end up because your past doesn’t dictate your future.
- Everyone has a second chance for reinstatement or restoration after he has messed up.
- Everyone must acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.