Lately, Dan and I have been immersed in the lessons of Peter (the passionate disciple) through Sunday sermons, radio ministries and secondary books. When there are times like this it seems evident that we are being taught an important lesson (or lessons). On reflection, here are a few points that have surfaced…
- Peter was the only disciple to call out to Jesus during the night of the storm while they were fishing (Matt. 14:28). Peter took a risk and instead of jumping hastily into the water like a fool, he asked for confirmation in his next step and Christ told him to come. Peter acted in obedience.
- Peter has often been criticized for looking down and taking his eyes and focus off Christ. How often do you and I take our eyes off Christ during the day and instead focus on our surrounding circumstances and realize our weaknesses? Christ did not rebuke Peter in front of the other disciples… He was pleased that Peter had taken the step of obedience and he gently questioned Peter, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”
- The real ‘failures’ in this story were the eleven other men who sought safety in a wooden craft (their earthly comfort zone) instead of stepping out in faith. At the end of my life when I look back, will I be one who spent my life in my comfort zone, or be a stumbling, shaky follower who stepped out on faith? “For obedience is better than sacrifice.” (1 Sam. 15:22).
- As the imminent death of Christ approached, John (“the other disciple”- as he refers to himself) and Peter went to the courtyard where Jesus’ ‘court case’ was taking place. John, “who knew the high priest (John 18:15)” was allowed inside while Peter had to remain outside and sought comfort the fire “for it was cold.” It was here that he first denied his Christ.
- After Christ’s death, Peter and six other disciples returned to their earthly comfort zone- fishing. What else were they to do? It was here that Christ met them- on their turf. He stoked a fire and cooked a meal of fish for them. Peter, overwhelmed with joy, jumped out of the boat and returned to shore to meet Jesus. Christ reminded his followers that when He called them, it wasn’t for a season but for a lifetime. Why did they return to fishing? He called them to fish for men.
- Christ instructed Simon (his original name) to follow him, to “feed His lambs,” “take care of His sheep,” and “feed His sheep.” (John 21:15) Christ told Simon that when “you are old you will stretch out your hands and someone… will lead you where you do not want to go.” (Prophesying his death.) Peter was so concerned (once again, his busybody-ness) with what John was to do, that he didn’t listen to Christ. Peter probably still had the smell of the smoke of the fire from the courtyard on his coat. He was reminded that John had left him in the courtyard alone and he possibly blamed John for his trice denial of Jesus. Christ rebuked Peter and said, “What does it matter if John never dies? I have called you!”
- On the day when we stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, He will not ask us about the accountability of our neighbor, co-worker, husband or wife, or child. He will ask us about our self. What did we do with the ‘talent/gift’ He gave us? Did we step out in faith (i.e. get out of the boat?) and enrich His kingdom (He will never ask us to do more than we can handle) or did we compare our gift with another’s gift (5 talents vs. 3 talents vs. 1 talent) or did we bury it for fear that we would have to do something out of our comfort zone?
- Peter became one of the most prominent preachers of the gospel through the Holy Spirit. His letter of 1 Peter affirms our call as believers and admonishes us to stand firm during persecution and to finish strong. When all is over and our days on this earth have ended, will you and I finish strong? Will Christ look at our lives and bend down to his child and say, “well done, good and faithful servant?” Finish strong, fellow servant!