While the disciples were all different, they had one important common characteristic. They were men of passion and action. No where was this more visible than in Simon Peter, the rugged fisherman.
Simon and his brother, Andrew, were fishermen by trade. One day Andrew heard Jesus speak. Andrew hurried back to his brother with amazing news. He told Simon he had found the Messiah! Simon decided to check out this Jesus.
What he found in Jesus changed his life forever. Jesus saw Simon, as He sees each of us. Jesus saw him as the world saw him, but He also saw Simon as Peter. Peter means “the rock”, the man Peter was destined to be.
One day when the disciples were sitting around talking, Jesus asked them who others said He was. They named John the Baptist, Elijah, and others.
Jesus turned to the group and said, “But what about you? Who do you say that I am?” We would have thought Peter’s brother, Andrew, would be the first to answer, since it was he, who had told Peter he had found the Messiah. But no, there was apparent silence from Jesus’ group … except for the eager beaver, Peter. I imagine him waving his hands, like a boy in school, saying, “I know! I know!”
Peter indeed did know. He professed to Jesus, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God!”
Just as Peter had recognized and professed publicly who Jesus was, Jesus recognized and professed publicly who Peter was. To that point, Peter had been called Simon. Now Jesus said,
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 upon this rock I will build My Church,
and the gates of Hell will not overcome it.
I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven;
whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven,
and whatever you loose on earth, will be loosed in heaven.
Peter was more like the Rocky we know from the movie, “Rocky”, impulsive, reactionary, talk first, act first, think later. He still had a few sharp, rocky edges, but Jesus continued to call him by his new name, Peter, the Rock. Peter was destined to be immovable, the solid foundation of the Kingdom of God. Jesus was going to trust Peter with the Keys to that Kingdom!
The mutual acknowledgement is an important message to us. Each of us has a time when we need to step forward boldly and profess our Love for Jesus. He, in turn, will be happy to introduce us to His Father, as one of His Own.
Whoever acknowledges Me before men,
I will also acknowledge Him before My Father in Heaven!
Peter, James and John appeared to be Jesus’ inner circle. They alone witnessed the transfiguration of Jesus. They alone were present when Jesus raised a little girl from the dead. They received an up close and personal view of the Kingdom.
While Peter’s boldness in professing the Power of Jesus was notable, he also had equal boldness in professing what he believed to be his own power. In spite of having that up close view of the Kingdom of Heaven to which he would be handed the keys, Peter continued to see things from his earthly view.
At one point when Jesus spoke clearly about what would happen to him, Peter took Jesus aside and rebuked Him. Can you imagine the arrogance that would permit Peter to rebuke the One he had already identified as the Son of God?? Peter said, “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!”
Jesus spoke first of all to the unseen being sitting on Peter’s shoulder. Jesus said,
Get behind Me, satan!
You are a stumbling block to Me;
you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.
Jesus would never call Peter, satan … but He allowed Peter to hear Him speak to the enemy in Peter’s Presence. It was important for Peter to recognize that satan was crafty and would make him a target as holder of the Keys to the Kingdom. It was important for Peter to know all Power belonged to God the Father, including setting the ways and times that Prophecy would be fulfilled.
For all his bravado, Peter had a secret problem. He could become afraid, just like other mere mortals. And he had a tendency to “take his eyes off the ball.” The outside world called to Peter on a regular basis and he just had to look. Did Jesus want Peter to stop looking at the world around him? No! In fact, Jesus wanted Peter to look and then relinquish the controls to Jesus. Jesus wanted Peter to follow Him, as they flew faster and higher than Peter could have ever dreamed.
Jesus once came to the disciples walking on the water. The disciples were terrified. “It’s a ghost!” they called out in fear. Jesus said to them, “Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Jesus wanted them to be bold and courageous.
Peter took the challenge. Peter said, “Lord, if it is You, tell me to come to you on the water.” Peter was smart enough to know he could never walk on water without Jesus. Good first step!
Jesus invited him to come. Peter did it! He walked on water! Like a child taking his first steps or riding a bicycle for the first time, he delighted in actually doing it! But Peter fell. Why? He looked away from Jesus and had the very human thought, “This can’t be happening.” Scripture records, “when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he called out, ‘Lord, save me!’”
Jesus did save him. He reached out His Hand and caught him. Then Jesus gently chided him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” The Bible records no more water walking practice, but I like to think there may have been. Peter was used to approaching life as a powerful swimmer, his muscular arms cutting through the waves. Jesus wanted Peter to learn the new skill of surrender to Him. He wanted Peter to learn how to float!
Peter had many more lessons before the last days of Jesus’ visible time on earth. The arrest of Jesus was to provide Peter’s final exam. Was he ready to accept the Keys to the Kingdom? Stay tuned for the next post where we will view with Peter the trial, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
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.
But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with You to prison and to death.”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today,
you will deny three times that you know Me.”