No other person in the Bible (other than Jesus) is more “larger-than-life” than him.
Called Simon by his parents at birth, this fisherman was most likely raised in Capernaum on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. And, the fact that He was called “Simon Barona” (Matthew 16:17), which literally means “Son of John,” helps us to see he likely would have been called Simon Johnson these days.
Quite a common name, wasn’t it?
But, he was anything but your average, run-of-the-mill guy.
Not Simon. . .the salty-tongued fisherman. . .whom Jesus renamed “Cephas” in Armaic or Syriac, which translated to “Peter” or “a little rock easily thrown” in the Greek.
In examining the Biblical Scriptures concerning him, we find that Peter was, by nature, a boisterous, braggadocios, impulsive, hot-headed individual. In some ways, he would be called a “natural born leader.” But, he would definitely be labeled as one who suffered with “OCD” (obsessive-compulsive disorder) by mental health experts these days.
Regardless, from the first time He met Jesus on the shores of the Sea of Galilee that day (Luke 5:1-11) he was enthralled with Him. Most likely taller in stature than the other closest disciples, “Rocky” (as he likely loved to call himself) was quick to act when a thought entered his brain—particularly in his relationship to Christ.
Even though they’d fished all night and caught nothing, Peter said “Nevertheless, at Your word I will let down the net” when Jesus (a non-fisherman) told them to throw their nets out (Lk. 5:5). Likewise, when they had no money to pay the Temple-tax, Peter didn’t question Jesus’ instructions to throw out a line into the sea and find the required money in the fish’s mouth (Lk. 17:24-27). And, who can forget the story of how Peter stepped out of the boat to walk to Jesus, but began to sink after he took his eyes off the Master (Matthew 14:28-30).
What a intriguing picture of faith tempered by doubt—what I call “bi-polar faith” (from which we all suffer).
Yet, none of these are as poignant and piercing as those during the last few hours preceding Jesus’ crucifixion. During the annual Passover meal in the upper room, Jesus told Peter “Satan is going to try and sift you like wheat being threshed during the harvest” (Lk. 22:31a); yet, the Lord continued “But I have prayed for you that your faith doesn’t fail you—and when you’ve come back to Me, strengthen your brethren” (Lk. 22:31b-32).
True-to-form, Peter replied “Lord, what are You talking about? I’m ready to go both to prison and to die with You if necessary!” (v.33).
And, Jesus, who’d used his birth-name “Simon” at the beginning of this conversation (v.31), said “Peter—look Me in the eyes—before the rooster crows tomorrow morning you’ll have denied even knowing Me three times” (v.34).
And, that’s exactly what happened (Lk. 22:54-60).
Only Luke’s Gospel tell us “And the Lord turned and looked upon Peter” (Lk. 22:61a). No wonder Peter “remembered Jesus’ words, went out and wept bitterly” (vv.61b-62).
Thankfully, the Story doesn’t end there. Within the first eight days after the Resurrection, Jesus appeared twice to the Apostles (John 20:19-29); yet, interestingly, Peter didn’t say a word. And, when he finally did, it was “I go a-fishin’” and six other Apostles said “We also go with You” (Jn. 21:3).
Should we be surprised that they “fished all night and caught nothing” (Jn. 21:3b)? And, should we be surprised that Jesus came looking for them and even cooked them breakfast on the seashore that morning (vv.4-14)?
No, we shouldn’t be surprised—for such is the nature of Christ’s “seeking, Redeeming Love.”
Oh how beautiful the interaction that morning around the campfire as Jesus asked the fallen disciple three times “Do you love Me?” and three times the guilt-ridden Peter replied “Yes, Lord, You know I love You” (Jn. 21:15-17). Thankfully, after each question-and-answer the Lord said “Feed My lambs/sheep,” which really is a restatement of His “strengthen your brethren” in Lk. 22:32). Hallelujah!
How wonderful to know our sins are forgiven through Christ’s death on the Cross (Romans 5:6-11). And, how wonderful to know we’re still usable to Him after all.
(NOTE: If you’d like to contact Bro. Tom or receive his daily e-mail devotional, entitled “Morning Manna,” you can write him at P.O. Box 582, Coushatta, LA 71019 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org).