Volumes could be written on the lives of the Apostles, especially Peter. However, in this lesson we want to focus on a few important aspects of the apostle’s life.
Peter is first mentioned in Matthew’s gospel chapter 4;
Matthew 4:18-20 NIV
Jesus Calls His First Disciples
18 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. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.
What we see here, is great faith on the part of Andrew and Peter. Notice the scripture says that they left their nets AT ONCE and followed Jesus. Peter was obviously looking for something and liked what he saw and heard in Jesus.
Because of the omniscience of Christ, He knew what Peter, as well as all of the disciples, would bring to His ministry and the work of creating and building the Church.
In knowing what Peter would bring to His ministry, Christ knew of both the strengths and weaknesses of Peter and the fact that some of his weaknesses would even prove to be strengths of sort.
Looking at the life of Peter we find the following characteristics. Some are familiar and held in common by many of us;
Peter knew his shortcomings
Luke 5:8 NIV
8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”
Peter was impetuous
Peter was boastful
Matthew 26:31-35 NIV
Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial
31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written:
“‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’[a]
32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”
34 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.
Peter was self-confident
John 13:37 NIV
37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
Luke 22:33 NIV
33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
Peter was hot tempered
John 18:10 NIV
10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)
Peter was brash and impulsive
In addition, we often think of Peter as brash and impulsive. A spur of the moment kind of person.
This is the kind of person who definitely gets things done, but can also make quick rash decisions that may cause problems.
Finally, in all of Peter’s brashness, boldness and hot temper we see that he was a man of courage. Remember, he jumped out of the boat to walk to Jesus and he cut off the soldier’s ear knowing they were outnumbered.
However, on the night Peter denied Christ three times, his faith and courage failed him.
Was this the end of the disciple’s work for our Lord? Absolutely not.
Jesus knew that in addition to all of the flaws that Peter possessed, were attributes of a leader who would be vital in building the Church of believers.
After Jesus’ resurrection, He asked Peter three times (the number indicating completeness) if he loved Him. Remember, when Peter's faith and courage failed him, he denied Christ three times before the rooster crowed. I believe this is why Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Also, because the number indicates completeness.
John 21:15-19 NIV
Jesus Reinstates Peter
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
From this point on, Peter would be the leader that Christ knew he would be and he was vital in building the Church. In the end, as Christ predicted, Peter would be crucified in Rome for his belief in his Lord & Savior.
According to Christian tradition and historical writings, Peter was crucified in Rome under Emperor Nero. It is traditionally held that he was crucified upside down at his own request, since he saw himself unworthy to be crucified in the same way as Jesus.
Peter gave his life for his belief in Jesus, who gave his life for all. Peter’s trust and faith did not fail him again.
Peter’s life is a lesson for us all. No matter what our weaknesses or flaws, God can and will use our strengths.