Do you feel like you struggle to put action to your desire to serve God? Do you find yourself with faith in who God is, but little faith in your ability to serve Him? Then join us below as we follow Peter, a man who had great faith, but also had to overcome his fears!
The Disciple, Peter
We all remember Peter. He was the one who stepped out of the boat, but then quickly succumbed to the waves. He promised Jesus that he would never deny Him, but then denied Him three times. Yet, he was also the one to whom Jesus said, “on this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18).
Peter may have had flaws, as do we all, but he was also chosen by God. One reason he was chosen was because of his faith—his earnest desire to serve God even if it would take Holy Spirit fire before he would possess the courage to match.
Yes. Peter sank into the waves, but we should also remember that he was the only disciple who got out of the boat! In many ways Peter had the faith and heart needed, but he lacked the focus, experience… the deeper faith and spiritual revelation that would take him those final steps. But Peter DID get out. He took the first step, and Jesus did not let him fail… Jesus saved Peter when he had the courage to take that first step.
Yes, Peter eventually denied Jesus three times, but Jesus restored him three times.
Yes, Peter may have been flawed, but God does not choose the qualified, He chooses those who have something within—something in their hearts—and then HE, not anyone or anything else, qualifies them. It is through qualifying the unqualified that God shows His power. Yet, more than that, it is how He shows His love, mercy, and great wisdom!
Man of Faith
So, who was Peter? What was it about Peter that caused Jesus to say to him, “follow me” (Matthew 4:19)?
Well, Peter—or Simon Bar-Jonah—was a fisherman, like his brother Andrew. This is apropos considering the first two disciples chosen by Jesus would then go on to be called “fishers of men.” Yet, it tells us so much more.
Peter, like the other disciples, would not have been the first, or even the second or third choice of a rabbi in that day, for to be called “to follow” was a great honor. It meant that the one called would leave everything to become a devoted student in the Torah with the potential to be like their master, the rabbi.
Peter and Andrew both had a great desire to learn from a rabbi. They desired to know God and His Word, even if they did not understand in the natural that Jesus was in-fact the Messiah they—and many others—had been watching and waiting for.
Yet, even without knowing the whole of who Jesus was, they saw a way to follow God… and so, when Yeshua said “follow me,” they did not hesitate to leave their nets and go.
“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
Still, why was Peter working as a fisherman? Why was he not already acting as a disciple to a rabbi?
Jewish children of that day were raised in the community with a teacher responsible for their education in Torah—learning to read and write scripture from an early age. Many students knew and were able to recite by memory the entire Torah (the first five books of the Word: Genesis through Deuteronomy) by the time their basic education was finished! The best students would go on to study more—even while learning a trade, as only a portion of those who went on might one day become rabbis—and perhaps also seek permission to become talmidim (disciples) of a prominent rabbi.
Many would remain in their family trade, either lacking the skill or merely believing they were unqualified for the life of a talmid. Further, not all students possessing the skills to become a disciple had the opportunity to continue their studies in God’s Word under a respected rabbi, as each rabbi could only make room for a certain number of disciples.
Perhaps Peter was not qualified to become a disciple, or perhaps he did not believe he had the call… but he was looking for a God experience. Peter was expecting, and so, when Jesus, Yeshua, got into the boat and instructed them to launch it out into the deep for a catch, and the nets were filled, Peter could not deny the honor… even if he doubted himself.
“When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!’ For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken… and Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.’ So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.”—Luke 5:8-11
Peter would have accepted his life as a fisherman, knowing that until near or even the very day of his death, he would be fishing. It was his life…
Until Jesus came.
Until then, Jesus saw something within Simon Peter, his brother, Andrew, and the others, that no one else had seen. No one but God could see the true value within each.
They had been introduced to this previously unknown Rabbi and had seen the face of God. This was surely worth leaving everything for. For, the desire of a talmid was to be like their Master—to listen, watch, and imitate Him. To become like Him.
They wanted to be like Him… like Yeshua Himself; even if they did not yet fully understand who He was.
So, Peter, the very one who was filled with fear, was also filled with the greatest of faith. His faith in Jesus—in God—was strong enough to know that if He was called, he would follow.
Without hesitation, Peter left everything to become Yeshua’s disciple. Not only a disciple to a rabbi, but, as he would eventually receive the revelation, a disciple to the Mashiach, the Anointed One, the King of kings!
By watching Jesus and listening to His teachings, Peter grew to trust Jesus and learn to imitate Him. Peter saw Yeshua heal his mother-in-law, heal lepers, the blind, the lame, the deaf and others…. he saw Him cast out demons, raise the dead, and work many, many miracles!
Peter’s faith in God, and God working through Jesus, was strong.
Yes, during the storm, when Jesus was asleep in the boat, Peter—as with all the disciples—was afraid. Yet, in another storm, when Jesus walked upon the water, Peter found courage within. Not because he was an unusually courageous man, but because his faith in God, in Yeshua, was strong! Yes, he became distracted and fearful with doubt because of the storm, sinking into the waves. But… Peter got out of the boat! Peter let faith lead him. Peter let his heart lead him. Surely this is one of the reasons Jesus saw something in Peter others did not?
“…immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.’
“And Peter answered Him and said, ‘Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.’
“So He said, ‘Come.’ And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’
“And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’ And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.
“Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God.’”—Matthew 14:27-33
Peter may have doubted, and his faith needed something only Holy Spirit fire could bring… but it was a start. He got out of the boat because he trusted Jesus and wanted to be like his Rabbi. Peter was not just taking a step on the water, he was taking the first step toward becoming the man God called him to be!
Soon after this event, Peter, though still not wholly understanding the wisdom God had imparted to him, was blessed with the supernatural knowledge of who this Rabbi, Yeshua truly was…
“He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’
“Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’
“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 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. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’”—Matthew 16:15-19
They were literally standing near the place many refer to as, “the gates of hell” when Peter, through God’s revealed wisdom, stated exactly Jesus’ true identity. The others present spoke of all the supposing’s people had, but Peter spoke the truth of it. Not because Peter was uniquely wise, but because GOD chose him to be one to carry this foundational truth that would build His Church—His ecclesia. Peter was not yet prepared for that position—Jesus was prophesying to the man Peter would become through the Holy Spirit.
Peter, before that point, would see Jesus transfigured on the Mount as Moses and Elijah joined Him, and would suggest building tabernacles for them—viewing the experience through man’s eyes, not God’s.
Peter would cause Jesus—due to Peter’s ‘earth level’ love of Him—to reprimand him.
Peter would fall asleep as Jesus prayed.
Peter would deny Jesus three times as He was being sentenced and mistreated.
Yet, in God’s infinite mercy… the true potential of Peter—his faith—was seen by the Master. Knowing that it would take a great work of forgiveness for Peter to become the man he was born to be, Jesus, after rising from the dead, restored Peter with forgiveness. Not by saying, “you are forgiven,” but instead though this…
“…Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?’
“He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’
“He said to him, ‘Feed My lambs.’
“He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’
“He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’
“He said to him, ‘Tend My sheep.’
“He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’
“And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’
“Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep. Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.’ This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, ‘Follow Me.’”—John 21:15-19
He brought Peter to Himself by offering redemption, yet, it was not an easy redemption. Jesus told Peter how he would die for his faith, and in that moment Peter could have refused. Peter could have taken the easy road, one where he might die of old age, never spreading the gospel of the risen Savior. But Peter, the little pebble, “Petros,” would live to speak of the “Petra,” the foundational Rock—the Cornerstone—upon which Jesus would build His Church… (see Matthew 16:18).
Peter chose his faith and love for Messiah over comfort. Over safety. And in Peter’s ministry to the Body of Christ—the ecclesia—with the guidance and strength of the Holy Spirit, he glorified God, becoming the faithful rock built upon The Rock.
Peter, like you and I, was not perfect. If the choice had been left to mankind, Peter would never have been made a disciple of any rabbi, much less Yeshua. Peter would never have been given the opportunity to follow Jesus, and through He and Holy Spirit, become a mighty man of God!
Only, God saw the expectant faith within Peter. Perhaps as small as a mustard seed, but He knew that through that measure of faith within Peter, it would grow to move mountains.
This is not to glorify Peter. This is a reminder that even though we are imperfect, it is God who chooses us. It is God who takes us, molds us, and uses us to advance His Kingdom and bring glory to His Mighty Name!
He can use you. You just have to open yourself to Him.
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