From Jim’s heart…A Life Lesson from the Apostle Peter

Simon (Peter) and his brother Andrew were early disciples of John the Baptist. Andrew is the first to meet Jesus and then brings his brother, Peter, to meet Him. In predictive fashion, Jesus changes Simon’s name to Cephas, which, in the local dialect, means “rock,” while in the Greek, Cephas is translated “Peter.” Peter’s meeting with Jesus does not result in any immediate change in Peter’s external behavior. He returns to Galilee and continues his fishing business. Later he is called by Jesus to become one of the 12 disciples.

It is only after Peter’s denial of Jesus and his restoration by Jesus that Peter’s fiery disposition is redirected as a “rock” to the rest of the disciples. He is now ready to be a true spiritual leader. After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension and the arrival of the Holy Spirit, Peter becomes a key leader and a chief spokesman for the newly forming church in Jerusalem. He ministers to the Jewish community in and around Jerusalem for many years.

Later in life, Peter seems to have traveled and ministered to the scattered Jewish communities as well as Gentiles in Asia Minor, because his first letter, 1 Peter, is addressed to the believers residing in several provinces of this area. Peter probably arrives in Rome in the late 50s or early 60s a.d. His two letters are written in Rome during the middle 60s with Silas, Paul’s missionary traveling companion, and John Mark at his side. Paul is imprisoned in Rome during this time. Peter and Paul are both martyred about the same time by Nero in a.d. 67–68. Tradition states that Peter’s death was by crucifixion. Peter’s prominence in the formative years of Christianity makes him one of the most significant men of the New Testament.

1. Failure does not disqualify you from serving Jesus. Jesus predicted Peter’s failure, then later said, “When you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren” (Luke 22:32). After each of his failures, Peter always returned with a desire to continue to follow Christ. Jesus knows that no one is perfect—failure is inherent in our humanness. Just as Jesus was ready to forgive and reinstate Peter for usefulness, He is ready to do the same for you. Whatever spiritual failure you are presently experiencing, is an opportunity for you to experience the grace of God. It is better to be a follower who sometimes fails than one who fails to follow.

2. Spiritual warfare should not be taken lightly. When Jesus warned of coming persecution, Peter was quick to assert he would remain faithful to Jesus. In his overconfidence he believed he could remain strong even when Satan applied spiritual pressure on him. Jesus knew Peter couldn’t remain faithful on his own, and predicted Peter’s restoration (Luke 22:32). Peter’s fall is a reminder that no one is immune to temptations or failure. None of us can stand in our own strength. Jesus said, “Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5), which includes withstanding temptation.

3. Evangelism is simply introducing people to the Savior and letting Him do the rest. Andrew’s major accomplishment was bringing his brother, Peter, to Christ and allowing Jesus to transform him into one of the great spiritual leaders of the early church. You may think you don’t have much to offer your Savior, but one very important thing you can do is introduce your family, friends, and workmates to Jesus and allow His Spirit to do the rest. Some of the greatest contributors to the cause of Christ down through the centuries have been those who simply introduced someone else to the Savior.

Question: What aspects of Peter’s strengths and weaknesses do you relate to the most?

Read more about people in the Old and New Testament in my book, Knowing the Men & Women of the Bible.

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