August 23- “Walk With Me: Peter”
If you have your Bibles, we are going to be bouncing around a lot today. You can open them the John 21:15, and we will get there eventually.
We’re in the middle of this series called Walk With Me, and last week we looked at the relationship between Paul and Timothy. When Timothy was just a boy, Paul invited him to join him on his missionary journey. We looked at how following God means finding a mentor or someone older than you that is willing to walk alongside of you.
This week we are looking at another famous apostle.
Today, we take a look at none other than Peter (Simon).
Peter’s life can be split into 5 different moments. These are the 5 areas that really highlight the timeline of his life. We don’t know much of anything about his early life, but we know a lot about these 5 things.
They are: The Call, The Oath, The Lapse, The Return, The Future.
First, The Call. Peter is considered to be Jesus’ right hand man. He was the guy that Jesus would turn to when things needed to get done. He was most likely the oldest of the disciples, somewhere near the age of 20. This made him the only other adult in the group.
In Mark 1:16, we find the story of Jesus’ first encounter with Peter. It goes like this:
As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
It’s a pretty simple encounter. Jesus is walking along the Sea of Galilee, sees these two men, and he calls out “Come, follow me.” Come, join me and what I’m offering to you.
It might seem weird to us to have these men immediately drop their nets to follow Jesus, but what we miss in our culture is that Peter and his brother Andrew are outcasts at this point. The way that the Jewish school system worked is that most people wanted to become rabbis. They wanted to work hard and learn about the Hebrew Scriptures and be able to teach people and have followers. Rabbis were very popular.
But Peter and Andrew aren’t rabbis, which means that they didn’t perform very well in their schooling. They didn’t memorize the scriptures quickly enough and were kicked out of school because of it. Since they didn’t perform well in school, they had to learn the family trade — fishing.
So when Jesus approaches them, and says “Come, follow me,” he’s using the language that a rabbi would use to choose his followers. Jesus is choosing Peter and Andrew and inviting them to learn from him as their rabbi. He’s telling them that they are good enough to follow Jesus and to be students. He’s giving them a second chance, and they seize the opportunity to become like their rabbi.
They drop their nets and follow after him. They’ve been called to by a rabbi, and they won’t squander this opportunity.
Peter and Andrew follow and serve with Jesus side by side. They eat with him. They listen to him. They learn from him. They are soaking in as much of his teachings and lessons and advice as they can.
Then, in Matthew 16:13–19, this happens.
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.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
These guys have been following Jesus for quite a while. He’s performed miracles in their midst. They’ve watch as he’s fed thousands of people. He’s healed illness. He’s cast out demons. Jesus has this incredible power and authority. The disciples come walking into this city, a city where there was a crack in the cliffside, and people would sacrifice goats in front of this crack. They called this crack “The gates of Hell.” And Jesus asks them “who do people say that I am. When they respond, Jesus makes the question personal.
“Who do you say I am?”
It’s in this moment that Peter makes The Oath. He stands before Jesus and recognizes him for who he really is. Jesus is the Messiah. The one who was promised to restore the Kingdom of Israel. The savior who will step in on behalf of all of mankind to save us from ourselves. Peter sees it and proclaims it boldly. And Jesus tells him that he will be a rock for the church. That the gates of Hade — the gates of Hell — both physical and spiritual will not be able to stand agains the things that Peter will help establish.
Peter is the Rock.
But his story doesn’t stop there.
Several months go by.
Jesus has been talking about his death, and all of the disciples are in denial. They think there is no way that the Messiah, this man they have proclaimed as savior of the world can die.
But they go out to a garden with Jesus, and there he prays violently. He’s sweating blood. He’s agitated. Soldiers come in from a distance and arrest Jesus.
The disciples scatter. Peter follows them into the city, but keeps himself at a distance.
He’s approached by people who recognize him,
Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.”
But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said.
A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.”
“Man, I am not!” Peter replied.
About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”
Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
Peter, the rock on which the church is to be built, has denied knowing Jesus. They same guy who proclaimed with boldness that Jesus is the Messiah is claiming to have never known the man that is being led to trial and to crucifixion.
Peter has lapsed in his judgment. He’s gone back on the Oath that he made — to follow Jesus forever. He’s running from him and openly denying that they’ve ever had any type of relationship.
He runs out of the scene. He’s weeping. He’s made a mistake, and he knows it.
A few days go by — 3 to be exact.
Jesus has resurrected from the dead, and he has appeared to the disciples two times already. The disciples are eating breakfast with Jesus, who has appeared to them a third time. Jesus, speaking to Peter directly for the first time since the denial and crucifixion says this:
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.”
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.”
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.”
Three times Peter denied Jesus.
Three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him
Three times Peter answers.
Peter has been restored by Jesus.
Peter has been forgiven by Jesus.
Peter is still the rock on which the church is to be built and the gates of Hell will still not be able to stand against what he helps create.
Jesus’ words to Peter — his vision for his life. His calling for his life — they never changed, but Peter lost sight of it all along the way.
Jesus never lost faith in Peter.
Peter lost faith in himself.
But here, Jesus restores his self-esteem. He reminds him that he is truly capable to do all of the things that he wants to do for God’s Kingdom.
Fast forward several years.
The church in Jerusalem is thriving. The people have all come together and they are sharing their wealth. They are sharing their burdens. They are living boldly for God and proclaiming His name wherever they travel.
And who is at the center of that?
Who is leading the church in Jerusalem?
Peter the denier.
Peter the guy with his foot in his mouth.
Peter the guy with the second most famous mistake in the Gospels
Peter the rock.
He’s leading the church.
And he’s writing letters to people.
There’s been a fire in Jerusalem, and Nero has blamed it on the Christians. He’s blamed it on this new religion that has been moving throughout the city.
Christians are being taken to court. They’re being mocked. They’re being denied public services.
And Peter writes to the people of Jerusalem. He knows what happens when the pressure is on. He’s lived it. He knows what happens when you lose sight of the goal. He’s done it.
He knows what happens when your feet are placed close to the fire.
He’s made the same mistake.
Peter, the guy who denied Jesus is using that experience to remind the Jerusalem church that God’s vision and plan is so much bigger than a moment of discomfort. That these experiences will pass and that God has not given up on them.
God has not given up on you.
Peter writes First and Second Peter. Letters to his people. Letters to the church to remind them to hold on to the promises of God. To cling to the things that made them fall in love with God in the first place.
Letters saying “Do not deny Jesus.”
Do not give in to the pressure.
Keep the faith.
Keep the faith.
Keep the faith.
Friends, there will be times when you are faced with a decision. When people around you will ask you, “who do you say Jesus is?” When situations will ask of you “Haven’t I seen you with Jesus before?”
How will you respond?
God is not done with you.
He has not given up on you.
Do not lose sight of the goal.
The goal of grace, mercy, forgiveness. The gift of the Holy Spirit. New life spent with God. Do not lose sight of those things.
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
-1 Peter 1:6–9