Apostle Peter's relationship with Jesus Christ
1 Peter 1:7 says, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”
We talk about Peter's character growth in this first part of a few part series. We will be discussing the different ways Peter grew in spiritual character in Christ Jesus. Here in this part, we will talk about the background of Peter.
- Simon: who people knew him to be and who he though he was.
- Peter: who he was as a Christian – somewhat still carnal.
- Cephas: who God desired him to be: stable, steadfast, and reliable.
Lessons from his naming:
- We have an idea of who we think we are.
- We are a person that others know us to be.
- We can become that which God desires us to be.
Peter appeared to be interested in becoming a fisher of men, instead of being a fisherman as he was – to which, this was a calling from God to use his skills of fishing in ministry, so that he may help transform people and distribute His Word. He received in-person training from Jesus Himself, which had to not only be humbling, but also rigorous (positive kind of rigorous, but rough nonetheless). This showed that Peter was drawn to God’s Call through Jesus.
He learned to trust Jesus in several accounts:We see in Luke 5:4-11, Jesus was telling Peter to drop his net(s) in, and he protested that they were fishing all night, however, Peter trusted anyway – and by doing so, they reaped a bountiful harvest. In addition, in Matthew 14:22-33, Jesus is seen walking on the water. The water was tossing the ship the Disciples were on, and they became fearful when they saw Jesus. Peter wondered if he should come to Jesus, and Jesus allowed him and gave him the power to walk on the water, but then the wind became boisterous, and Peter lost his faith as he thought he would fall in. Jesus said to him, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” Through this, it caused the Disciples to worship Him, exalting Him as truly the Son of God.
In the former, Peter is the impetuous, courageous, restless, flamboyant, ambitious of challenges and power; and in the latter, we see him patient, restful, forbearing, trustful, loving, and with the old buoyancy and courage purified, and the different it makes in his ways. Simon Peter, in the former, saw his Lord transfigured; and in the latter, Cephas, is transfigured by the boundless grace of God. The crude, tactless, ill mannered, brash, brassy, stumbling, disobedient, and offending Disciple was retrained through Jesus’ lessons, in that he held Jesus as precious to him.
Simon was the one that needed a lesson of faith (as in the ship incident), because it didn’t seem as if James and John had any problems believing Jesus, however, Peter did, as he questioned Jesus when He said drop in the nets. When Jesus chose us to be His Disciples, He stepped in to our ship, and taught us how to have faith, and that through simple acts of faith, we will reap a bountiful harvest – and though we may toil all night, joy shall arise in the morning!
It seems that through some of the different ways of Jesus teaching him to have faith; it seems Peter continually needs to be brought under subjection, because of his carnal ways. Jesus teaches him, however, to be more firm, to which, is done through the marvelous works of Jesus. At first, he didn’t trust Jesus’ word, because he claimed that they toiled all night for fish but to no avail. Through risking it, Peter cast the net anyway, and reaped a harvest. Dropped to his knees before Jesus, saying that he was a sinful man, for he is astonished at the Lord’s power (to which, he could not believe). Peter has fear, but Jesus calms him, telling him his call from God to be fishers of men.
Later, Peter is called Cephas, which means, “a stone.” This is prophesying his call further from God. His soul would be strong, unyielding, and firm in purpose. Cephas is defined as, “strong, bold, stable, grounded, converted.” Later, in his writings, we see Peter learning many different lessons in his journey of “discipleship” – to which, he calls the trial of our faith more precious than gold that perishes even when tried by fire (1 Peter 1:7), acknowledges Jesus as the precious cornerstone over all of us lively stones (1 Peter 2:4-7), and recognizing the problems of the lust of the world and being converted away from them (2 Peter 1:4). Lastly, he was concerned for his faith, and prayed for it that it would not fail (1 Peter 5:10-11).
Mark 8:31 says, “And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.”
It seems that Peter was commonly lacking of faith and understanding, and indeed in need of the Lord’s wisdom imputed upon him. His lack of faith and understanding led him to many problems (some may think it is ridicule), but Jesus helped Peter understand what is best by correcting him. Thankfully, Peter was teachable enough to “stick around” for Jesus’ admonitions, to which, since he was willing to endure, it appears Jesus trusted Peter, especially when Peter finally admitted that Jesus is “Thou art Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Therefore, Jesus said to Peter, “Thou art Peter… upon this rock I will build my church.” Peter sees the truth and through Spiritual eyes, and this is what brings Peter though his failure.
It is good to note that Peter is not the foundation, but Peter would have a big part in the Church. We see the shakiness of the Church just as the shakiness of Peter’s life. This was likely Jesus teaching us that there is a weakness of the flesh, and that the Church would become strong and solid, but also shaky. Peter was simply a man that lacked understanding and faith, much like what we were before becoming a Christian – to which, Jesus helps to transform and renew so that we may be pleasing unto Him!
Now, John the Beloved caught the soft side of Jesus, the side that longs for our Love (to which, John’s personality must be a loving kind), and he shares is in John 6:68-69, “Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Responses to Jesus' activities
The Transfiguration was a literal event that happened to the Disciples in a vision (Peter, James, and John), to which, Jesus had taken them to a high mountain after a time of teaching and after the confession of Peter that Jesus was the Son of the Living God (the Christ). Luke 9:33, “And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.”
Peter’s reaction is noted in John 13:8, “Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.” From foot washing, we can learn that Jesus is teaching us Humility and cleansing of the inner man, to which, wiping the feet is a very humble act and involves service to another individual. When we do this, we are showing that we “servants” are not greater than our Lord, therefore, we should humble ourselves as equals one to another and serve each other.
But Master, what shall we have?
We see this recorded in Matthew 19:27-30, “Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.”
Peter here seems to have a bit of self-centeredness, to which, Jesus answers him anyway by addressing all of them at one time who were there. Peter wants to know what they will have if they decide to follow Him then (abandoning everything). Jesus noted that those who make sacrifices for the sake of Jesus will find that what they receive in eternity is far greater than anything lost in the present world; sacrifices such as wealth, status, family or friends, however, in the age to come, they will reign with Christ!
Jesus is Alive!
Matthew records that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to the sepulchre at the end of the Sabbath around dawn. The Angelic guard that met them at the tomb gave them a message, “Go quickly, and tell his Disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.” After this, there is an account of the women meeting Jesus – note that they are able to touch Him, for they hold Him by the feet and worship Him. Matthew then records that the “eleven” went away into Galilee unto the mountain where Jesus appointed to meet them. Therefore, they meet Him there and worshipped Him – however, some had doubted. The special message for Peter is noted in Mark, as there is an addition in the statement the Angelic guard said to them, “But go your way, tell his Disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.”
Jesus and Peter's final meeting
The conversation around the fire between Peter and Jesus involved Jesus asking Peter, “Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?” Peter replied then, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee,” (Jesus is re-establishing His relationship with Peter, returning Peter unto Himself). After Jesus asked him this a few times, Peter replied and was grieved, “Lord, thou knowest all things: thou knowest that I love thee.” Then, Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”
It seems that because Peter denied Jesus thrice, Jesus is requiring a triple confession of Love from Peter. Original calling was “fishers of men.” This current calling is “lambs and sheep.” The teaching technique of Jesus is usually first physical, and then Spiritual. First, there was the involvement of reeling people into Jesus, and then the second was feeding His flock. The third confession was what seemed the Lord was looking for from Peter, to which, Peter was filled with uneasiness and grief. He was then sure that He loved the Lord.
Peter asked how many times Jesus’ followers should forgive other before taking action. Jesus replied and said that action was not to be done for an alternative for forgiveness. That is, believers do not take action against offenders, and that forgiveness shall be issued no matter how many times offenders do them wrong. We need to accept this view that no matter how much people do us wrong, we should forgive (and even forget). Matthew 18:21-22, “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”