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People Just Like Us -A Study of Biblical Characters No 5: Peter

Evangelist and Bible teacher in the Eastern Cape. B.A. and H.E.D from University of South Africa and M.A. Abilene Christian University

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When Jesus started his public ministry he started at the Sea of Galilee and one of the people who chose to follow him was Peter. It is interesting to note that Jesus did not go to the University of Jerusalem but lived on the shores of a lake and was just a fisherman. As he continued to draw people to him, Jesus found that the followers came from every walk of life. Everyone found his teaching to be amazing; ordinary people and also the religious leaders of his time.

We are introduced to Peter in the Gospel accounts. His brother Andrew went to find Simon/Peter and told him that they had found the Messiah (John 1:35). In Luke 5:3 the writer records that Jesus got into one of the boats from where he could teach the people and that the boat belonged to Simon, who Jesus was to rename Peter. Jesus had already astonished the people as he taught in the Synagogue in Capernaum where the people had been amazed at his teaching because “his message had authority” (Luke 4:32 - NIV translation, used with permission). It must have been amazing for Peter to be asked by this person who was making such an impact in the area, to take him out onto the lake.

As Peter gives up his fishing to follow Jesus we soon begin to learn more about this man. Impulsive, excitable and a natural leader, Peter was one of the 12 men specially chosen by Jesus for an intense period of training and preparation. He was always keen to take up a challenge and often spoke before he thought things through. At one stage Jesus reprimanded Peter for making a statement that went against the purpose of what Jesus had to do. So Jesus said to Peter: “get behind me Satan” (Matthew 16:23).

At the same time it was Peter who made the confession on Jesus’ question: “who do you say I am?” and Peter answered: “The Christ of God” (Luke 9:20), or as Matthew records it: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”. It was Peter who got out of the boat to walk on the water to Jesus but who then sank as his faith declined. It was Peter who took out his sword and cut off the ear of Malcus, the servant of the High Priest, when the mob came to arrest Jesus. It was Peter who proclaimed that he was prepared to die for Jesus and then denied knowing Jesus three times after Jesus’ arrest. It was Peter who went back to fish after the crucifixion of Jesus, and the other disciples followed (John 21:3). It was Peter who raced John to the tomb when they heard that Jesus’ body had disappeared.

Here was a life that experienced great highs and lows. It was however, in Peter, that Jesus saw the potential to be a leader in the early Church and so it was Peter who addressed the crowd in Jerusalem with the message of the Good News: “Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38) .

It was Peter and John who boldly proclaimed to the Jewish leaders who tried to silence them that the religious leaders were to decide for themselves what was more important, to listen to human voices or the voice of God: “For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). It was Peter who did not believe that Gentiles could become Christians until he was shown a vision as recorded in Acts 10:9-34. It was Peter whom Paul confronted on this issue, as Paul recorded in Galatians 2:11-31. Paul also refered to Peter’s right to take a wife on the missionary journeys, indicating that Peter was married.

According to tradition Peter eventually travelled to Rome and was put to death by Nero.

The life of Peter is testimony of how God uses ordinary people in great and wonderful ways to proclaim the Good News about Jesus. There were highs and lows in Peter’s life. At times he seemed to battle with himself to maintain the faith that at other times shone as a bright light into the world of his time. There were times of uncertainty and times of confusion but at the end his faith and enthusiasm carried him through. After denying Jesus at the arrest he was restored by Jesus on the shores of the lake of Galilee as recorded in John 21:15-17.

Peter penned two letters to the Church that make up an important part of the New Testament. One of his amazing statements is in 1 Peter 2:5; "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light".

In his search for a faith that carried him through the challenging times that he faced he certainly lived out that declaration and set a benchmark for each one of us who come to faith as ordinary people, and who are then empowered by the Holy Spirit to become what God wants us to be..

References:

NIV Bible Translation

Scriptures taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, Copyright 1973,1978,1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The "NIV" and "New International Version" trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

Comments

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on September 30, 2021:

God has not qualify and special person to do the gospel work. Thanks.

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