As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him (Matthew 4:18-20 NIV).
I enjoy reading success stories about people who have overcome failure or adversity. But also inspiring are the unlikely people in the Bible that God has used to advance His kingdom. An excellent example is Peter, a man with a brash personality, who God transformed into one of early Christianity’s most significant leaders.
Originally named Simon, Peter was one of Jesus’ closest companions and a leader among His twelve disciples (Matthew 10:2). Peter had a fishing business in Capernaum, where he lived and left it behind to follow Jesus. Peter was strong-willed and impulsive, yet genuine and loyal. He sometimes spoke before thinking, but when something needed to be said, he said it.
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:13-16).
Peter was one of the boldest disciples, a man willing to step out in faith even if it meant failing. On one occasion, the disciples were out in a boat in stormy weather, and Jesus went to them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw Him, they were afraid and cried out, “It is a ghost!” Immediately Jesus said, “Take heart, it is I. Do not be afraid.” Peter replied, “If it is You, Lord, tell me to come to You on the water.” When Jesus said, “Come,” Peter stepped out of the boat and walked on the water toward Him (Matthew 14:22-29).
But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:30-31).
Peter’s faith had been tested, but his biggest trial was yet to come. It all began on the evening before Jesus’ death when He shared the Passover meal with His disciples. While they were eating, Jesus identified His betrayer, Judas Iscariot. Later, they went to the Mount of Olives, and Jesus said, “All of you will desert Me this very night.”
Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same (Matthew 26:33-35).
Jesus and His disciples went to the Garden of Gethsemane, where He would be betrayed and arrested. Jesus, deeply distressed over what was to come, asked Peter, James, and John three times to keep watch while He prayed, but they fell asleep each time.
Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand” (Matthew 26:45-46 NKJV).
Judas arrived with a crowd of armed men sent from the chief priests and elders of the people (Matthew 26:47). Judas greeted Jesus with a kiss, a prearranged signal that identified Him to the men, and they arrested Him. The disciples deserted Him and fled (Matthew 26:56). The armed men led Jesus to the home of Caiaphas, the high priest, where the scribes and elders had gathered. Meanwhile, Peter followed Him at a distance to the high priest’s courtyard. A servant girl came to Peter and said, “You were with Jesus of Galilee.” But Peter denied it, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about.” Later, another servant girl saw him out by the gate and said to those nearby, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again, Peter denied it. A little while later, the bystanders went to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them because of your Galilean accent.” Then Peter began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the man.” And immediately, the rooster crowed. Peter remembered Jesus’ words, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Peter went away and wept bitterly (Matthew 26:75).
Despite Peter’s failure, it was not the end for him. Jesus loved him, forgave him, and restored him to ministry (John 21:15-19). After Jesus ascended into heaven, the Holy Spirit came to the believers in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). Peter preached boldly that day, and some three thousand people were baptized and added to the church in Jerusalem (Acts 2:41). Crowds gathered from the Jerusalem suburbs, bringing the sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and they were all healed (Acts 5:16). The church grew rapidly, and the high priest and Sadducees were filled with envy (Acts 5:17). They arrested Peter and the apostles and put them in jail, but an angel of the Lord came at night and set them free. In Acts 5:40-41, the Sanhedrin officials had the apostles flogged, charged them not to speak in Jesus’ name, and let them go. But Peter and the apostles left the Sanhedrin rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer dishonor for Jesus’ name.
Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah (Acts 5:42).
The apostle Peter took the gospel to the Gentiles and authored two New Testament epistles, 1 and 2 Peter. He has given us one of the Bible’s most extraordinary success stories. We learn that God can forgive us if we fail, restore us, and help us to succeed. Peter’s life is a testimony that failure is not the end when we trust in Jesus.
Authored by Susan Ferguson
Susan Ferguson is a freelance Christian writer.
Copyright 2022 Susan Ferguson
Copyright 2022 Non-Exclusive Reprint – The Oklahoma Post
Posted with Permission from Author.
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