Peter’s puzzling encounter
Andrew goes to find his brother Peter. It does not say if he had to go all the way to Galilee to fetch him or if he happened to be nearby on a visit to Jerusalem. Peter comes to Jesus, and Jesus makes a prophecy over him saying, Simon, you shall be called Cephas. Peter must have been puzzled, and would not have understood. Just imagine that you went to man of God you were meeting for the first time, and he said you will be called a banyan tree, you may not understand much.
When we come to Jesus, all kinds of prophesies are made over us. John 1:12 says that you have the power to become the sons of God. 2 Peter 1:4 goes further and says that you become partakers of the divine nature. In John 14:12 Jesus says that the things which you see Me do, greater things than these will you do. In John 16:13 Jesus says the Spirit will tell you things to come. Most Christians seem to think that there are not for us, but for those who are high up in the ranks of ministry! That is not true. We do not understand these prophecies, much like Peter, but as we walk with Jesus we find them all being fulfilled. In John 13:7 Jesus says, you do not understand Me now, but later you will understand. All these will come to pass in your life.
The Galilean encounter
Peter goes back to fishing and he next meets with Jesus in Galilee in Luke 5:1-11. Here Jesus does a great sign for Peter, by leading him to a great catch of fish. Seeing the sign, Peter recognizes Jesus as a divine person and addresses Him as Lord, a term usually reserved for God.
God gave us the greatest sign ever when He raised Jesus from the dead. As it says in Romans 1:4 declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead. Having given that sign He is under no obligation to give us another sign. Yet, in the compassion of God he gives us signs by His grace, and most of us have experienced His touch somewhere or the other in our lives. How do we respond to this?
If we read verse 11 it says, Peter forsook all and followed Jesus! All the fish they caught was forsaken and left there for others to gather and he follows Jesus, because he wants God in his life, not material things.
If this happens today, we count the fish, give a tithe to the church or missions, and then enjoy the remaining 90% for ourselves, and when it is over come to Jesus and ask ‘Give me more fish’. That is not the response Jesus is looking for. He wants you to forsake all and follow Him like Peter did, but most of us get stuck at the material blessings, and instead of running after Jesus we run after blessings. Habakkuk’s closing statement in Habakkuk 3:17-19 needs to be ours. Whether God blesses or not we will rejoice in God. What is our own attitude to Jesus? Why are we in the church? For the blessings or because He is God?
As Peter begins his walk with Jesus, he has many great experiences in his life. He is sent on a missionary trip (Mark 6, Matthew 10) and he drives out demons and heals the sick (Mark 6:13). He walks on water (Matthew 14:29ff). He experiences the Transfiguration. He is in the inner circle with James and John.
All this makes him think that he is better than the other apostles. He is special. An arrogance comes into him, which needs to be dealt with. This pride leads him to try and counsel Jesus in Matthew 16:22, and is rebuked as an envoy of Satan.
To break this pride, and make him dependent on Jesus alone, Jesus tells him that he would deny Jesus (Matthew 26:31). Peter’s response is even if all stumble or fall, I will never fall. He is comparing himself with others, and saying that they may fall, but I will not fall. This shows the arrogance if his heart, that makes him unfit for ministry and needs to be dealt with.
To break Peter, Jesus first tells him that he will deny Jesus three times before the cock crows i.e. before morning comes. Then God arranges for the weakest person in the High Priests house, the servant maid to confront Peter and ask him “Aren’t you one of the followers of Jesus?” and Peter denies Jesus. If a soldier had confronted him, Peter may have made an excuse to ease his conscience, but it was the weakest of the weak before whom he failed. Not once, but three times. When he hears to cock crow he weeps realising that he is not what he thought he was.
Peter is crushed, but Jesus sends him a message. In Mark 16:7 the angel tells Mary to go to tell the apostles that Jesus has risen, and to tell Peter. A special mention is made of Peter, since he is crushed and needs a word of encouragement. You can imagine Peter wondering where he stands with Jesus, getting that message – Jesus is looking for him. He runs to the tomb.
Later, on the banks of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus meets with him and asks him “Do you love me more than these?” Jesus uses the terms agape for love implying the perfect Christian love which we should have for God and one another. Peter, now broken, knows that he does not have that kind of love which is expected of him and replies using another terms phileo, which means the love of a friend. Jesus again asks him do you have agape for Me. Again Peter responds, I have phileo for you, or I am Your friend. The third time Jesus asks him, do you have even phileo for me, or are you My friend? The Peter breaks down and cries and says you know everything, you know I am Your friend. Peter knows that he cannot reach the exalted levels God expects from us, but he says, I am available for You. Jesus tells him to feed Hs sheep.
What is your response to Jesus? Never come to him on the basis of your worth. All our righteousness is as filthy rags Is 64:6. Just come to Him as you are and let Him build you and use you. Jesus will take you as you are, in your weakness, not in your strength. As you come He says, Feed my sheep. We are called and sent for ministry.
What about you?
• Are you still trying to learn about Jesus so that you can commit to Him? Just come to Him.
• Are you still puzzled about the outrageous claims of the people of God? Just walk with Him.
• Have you forsaken all and followed Jesus? He is waiting for you,.
• Are you over-confident of your relationship with God? It is not you but His grace.
• Come with all your weakness – God will do great things