Who was Peter? How did He Find Jesus? And What does His life with Christ Teach us About Discipleship?
The Apostle Peter: A Summary of His Life and Ministry Firm Foundation Christian Church, Woonsocket, RI, 2016 Background
1. Peter was his Greek name. Cephas was his Aramaic name. Simon was his Hebrew name.
2. Simon was his birth name given by his father Jonah (Matthew 16:17). Peter and Cephas mean “rock”, and Jesus called Peter by these names.
3. He is always listed as the first of the Twelve Apostles (Luke 6:14).
4. His call by Jesus is recorded in Matthew 4:18-20. We also learn that Peter was a fisherman, and that he had a brother named Andrew.
5. Peter was married (1 Corinthians 9:5). Jesus healed his wife’s mother when she was very sick (Mark 1:30-31).
6. Peter wrote two books of the Bible, 1 Peter and 2 Peter. He also helped give Mark the information so he could write his gospel.
Events in Peter’s Life
1. Peter traveled with Jesus for 3 ½ years.
2. Peter attempted to walk on water (Matthew 14:29-30).
3. Peter witnessed the Transfiguration of Jesus (Matthew 17:1-2).
4. Jesus washed Peter’s feet at the Last Supper (John 13:6-7).
5. Peter denied Jesus three times (John 18:25-27).
6. Peter saw the empty tomb (John 20:3-6).
7. Peter saw the resurrected Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:5).
8. After Jesus’ Ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit, Peter became the leader of the church which was at Jerusalem (Acts 2:14,22-24).
9. Peter did missionary work and preached Jesus as the Christ the rest of his life.
10. According to tradition, Peter was crucified upside down in Rome
1. Peter’s Life shows us that God calls young people to follow Him—age isn’t an issue with Jesus.
How did Peter Find Jesus?
Peter was called by Jesus early on in Jesus’ ministry. This happens in Matthew 4:18-22
“18 Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 And He *said to them, “[a]Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. 21 Going on from there He saw two other brothers, [b]James the son of Zebedee, and [c]John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.”
Jesus was 30 years old when He started His ministry which would mean Peter was younger than 30 because in Jewish Culture disciples were typically younger than their rabbi (teacher). It is though that Peter may have ranged from 13 years old to 18 years old when he was first called by Jesus.
“Second, many of the disciples worked as fishermen. James and John specifically left their father in the boat to follow Jesus (Matthew 4:21–22). This means they were old enough to work full-time. They were likely at least teenagers by this time, since they could leave home to follow a rabbi. Third, Peter is noted as already married when he began following Jesus. His sick mother-in-law is mentioned in Matthew 8:14. This means Peter was at least old enough to be married; at the very least, Peter was in his mid-teens.”—Got Questions.com
Peter would eventually preach one of the most famous Gospel Sermons in church history in Acts 2. Peter didn’t start his life knowing how to preach the gospel like that. His journey starts here, in a totally different career, inexperienced, newly married and going down a totally different path. Peter had to choose Jesus, He had to turn to Him, trust in Him and eventually became more like Him as Peter would spend his time with Jesus.
2. Peter intensely loved and had faith in Jesus. He was all in on Christ.
Peter shows us what it looks like to literally give your life for someone. He had intense faith in Jesus and believed in Jesus since the two met during his job in Matthew 4:18-22
Peter attempts to walk in water towards Jesus.
And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30 But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and when he began to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”—Matthew 14:29-30
Peter eventually washes Jesus’ feet in John 13:6-8
“Lord, You are washing my feet?” 7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not realize right now, but you will understand later.” 8 Peter *said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no [b]place with Me.” –John 13:6-8.
Peter wouldn’t let the Son of God (God Himself) was the feet of himself—who was a lowly sinner. This shows us that Peter thought of himself below that of Jesus Christ. Jesus is God in Peter’s eyes—Peter fully believes this and knows this to be true.
3. Peter’s Faith and ministry with Jesus brought Peter to Obey Jesus. Peter Obeyed Jesus because Peter Loved Jesus.
Peter is the one disciple that denied Christ not once but three times. This happens in John 18:25-27. Why do you think Peter did this? It is believed that Peter was scared of being mobbed and being crucified with Jesus. What is interesting to think about is that Jesus predicted this happening earlier in John during the last supper. This means that Peter’s denial was a part of God’s plan because Peter will be the disciple that will eventually build the early Church in Acts. If Peter would have died with Christ here then who would have built the church?
In John 21 Jesus shows resurrected and alive on the beach. Peter and some other disciples were on the boat and once Peter noticed Jesus he jumped into the water and swam back to Jesus. Peter loved Jesus—Imagine the shame Peter felt by denying Jesus? Well Jesus doesn’t shame Peter here, He doesn’t remind Peter, rather he redeems Peter, He feeds Peter and tells Peter to go on and feed Jesus’ sheep. This would then lead Peter to preach in Acts 2 and start the early church as we know it today.
Peter grew close to Jesus as a one of His disciples. Peter loves Jesus, Peter has Faith in Jesus, and Peter Obeyed Jesus. This is how Peter built the church, Peter performs a few miracles in Acts and shows immense faith in God during His ministry. It is no accident—Peter was close to Christ.