Simon Peter

“And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. They immediately left their nets and followed Him”
(Matthew 4:18 – 20).

Jesus Christ called a complex diverse group to follow Him. Each had a unique personality. Based on the interaction recorded in the Scriptures Simon Peter must have been one of, if not the most outspoken one. He was a blithe bold believer who took a stand and spoke out on many things. He was reprimanded by Christ and reprimanded Christ. He was bold enough to draw a sword against a contingency of Roman soldiers and cowardly enough to recoil when confronted by a single young woman. His visibility makes him one of the most familiar apostles.

A first grader had listened attentively as the teacher told of the men Christ called to follow Him. The teacher then asked, “What were the men who followed Christ called?” After a momentary pause one little enthusiast put his hand eagerly. When called upon to tell what the men were called the child said, “They were called recycles!” We might call them transformed apostles but that is Greek for “recycles.” That is what all of us are.

The various lists of apostles varies but the same one is always listed first and the same one last. Peter is always listed first and Judas Iscariot last.

Affectionately known as “the Big Fisherman,” Paul called him, along with James and John, “pillars” of the church (Galatians 2: 9).

John Chrysostom (347 – 407 A.D.) said Peter was “the mouthpiece of the apostles … the leader of the apostolic chorus — the pillar of the church, the basis of faith, the foundation of our confession (You are the Christ), the World-wide Fisherman who brought our race heavenward from the abyss of error.” (“The Twelve Christ Chose,” Smith).

Peter was one of the members of the inner circle that often had special moments with Christ. He was:

When Judas brought the cadre of Roman soldiers to the Garden of Gethsamene to arrest Christ it was Peter who drew a sword and attempted to defend Christ (John 18: 10).

Christ had previously told the apostles they should each purchase sword “Then He said to them, ‘But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one'” (Luke 22:36).

Why would Christ tell them to purchase swords and then rebuke Peter for using his. The Greek word translated “sword” is MACHAIRA. It was a short bladed dagger like knife. Such was an essential possession of all men. It was not a weapon for fighting, but for preparing food, cutting food, and various utilitarian purposes. Telling them to purchase such a “sword” would be like a scout master telling troop members to bring along their Swiss Army Knife on their camping trip. There was nothing warlike about having such a sword. It was Peter’s improper use of it that Christ condemned.

It is probably a stretch of the imagination to conceive of Christ saying that night in Gethsamene, “Peter, put that thing away. I am suppose to die tomorrow on a cross, but if you keep that up we will all be killed tonight in a street fight.”

Peter’s act was a brave impulsive but improper one.

Our zeal for our Lord must be tempered and timely.

In the upper room on the eve of Christ’s crucifixion Peter had boldly asserted that even if all the others deserted Him he, Peter, would not (Matthew 26: 33 – 35). Christ forewarned Peter as to how imminent his betrayal would be. He told him that before the cock would crow three times he would betray Him.

After Christ’s arrest Peter followed the contingency to the house of the high priest and waited around a fire in the outer courtyard. A young woman who had seen Peter with Christ identified him as a follower of Christ (Matthew 26: 58 – 75).

Three times she identified him and three times he denied Christ.

The third betrayal was followed immediately by the crowing of the cock. Peter was deflated.

Those of us who all too often feel like failures can relate. Thank the Lord the story doesn’t end there.

Peter revealed many attitudes that prevail in our time. He once asked Christ: “Then Peter answered and said to Him, ‘See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?'” (Matthew 19:27).

Transliterated, “What is in for me?”

Later when the mother of James and John asked Christ to let her boys sit on his right and left Peter was one of the ten that was highly indignant about it. They were upset that their little Jewish mothers let her beat them to asking the same question.

What is in if for me? The pay off is two fold.

One, the joy of being with the Lord and doing His will. Inherent in it is the reward. We need to remember that. The pay off is in the process.

Secondly, the pay off is deferred. The pay may not be much but the benefits are eternal.

Christ asked His apostles who they thought Him to be. Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).

This factual revelation gave Christ occasion to declare the foundation of the church He was to build: “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).

Peter was the first apostle at the tomb of the resurrected Christ (Luke 24: 12). What he saw transformed his life and started a wave of transitions that changed history. The empty tomb filled Simon with zeal.

Jesus, the resurrected Lord, said, “But go, tell His disciples; and Peter; that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you” (Mark 16:7).

Some think Peter was giving up in despair when he said, “I am going fishing.” What he meant was in light of Christ saying He was going to be in Galilee I am going where Christ is.

There on the shores of the sea Peter saw the resurrected Lord whom he had denied. Three times Christ asked him if he loved Him. Simon’s responses revealed a dedication that thrust him into a life time of spreading the good news.

Later Peter wrote two books contained in our Bible bearing his name: I and II Peter. Therein he appeals: “by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins” (II Peter 1: 4 – 9).

Christ had said of Peter he would be called “the Rock.” In this passage Peter reveals the process by which sand is turned into a rock.

Peter became a fearless leader, filled with courage born of a faith in Christ and an awareness of His presence in every time of need.

The faith of Peter, tradition tells us, propelled him into France and England preaching the good news. Tradition further holds that Peter was condemned by Nero to be crucified. He said he was not worthy to die as his Lord and asked that he be crucified upside down. He was rock solid.