The Apostle Peter’s Pathway from a Skeptic to a Warrior for Christ

One of the best testimonies of Jesus Christ’s power and love is gleaned by observing the transformation and spiritual growth of His rock, the fisherman Peter (Matthew 4:18) who was untrained in theological studies (Acts 4:13). Jesus said to Peter “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” (Matthew 16:18). Yet throughout the Gospels, we find evidence that Peter was very skeptical of Jesus and he had many weaknesses.

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:28-31)

At another point, Jesus rebuked him, stating that his actions were Satan’s. Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Matthew 16:23). Jesus also told Peter (Simon) that Satan had asked to sift each of the apostles as wheat (Luke 22:31).

Jesus scolded Peter for falling asleep when he and the other disciples were supposed to keep watch while Jesus prayed, just before His arrest (Matthew 26:40). He also scolded him for cutting the ear from the servant of the high priest, Malchus, during the arrest (John 18:10).

Peter witnessed miracles of Jesus and saw His glory transformation (Luke 9:32), which may have contributed to his declaration to Jesus of his undying loyalty (Matthew 26:33; Mark 14:29; Luke 22:33). Yet Peter fell short once again after Jesus was captured. He was questioned about his identity and relationship to Jesus three times while following Jesus and His captors and each time, he denied Him. He did not want to share the same fate (Matthew 26:73-75; Mark 14:70-72; Luke 22:60-62; John 18:25-27).

But then something happened. When the women reported to him and the other apostles that Jesus’ tomb was empty, Peter and John raced to the tomb (Luke 24:12) and John outran Peter (John 20:4). Peter must have had a bit of a competitive bone with John, as he was also quite curious about John’s fate (John 21:21). He discovered that he and John would not share the same fate.

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. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” 

Peter emerged as a true leader and preached with much power (Acts 1:15; 2:14; 3:12) and was soon filled by the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:8). He preached on the priority of God over man (Acts 4:19) and he rebuked people like Ananias, Sapphira, and Simon (Acts 5:3; 5:9; 8:20) for acting in ways against the early church and God. He also healed people (Acts 5:15). According to Paul, God was at work in Peter’s ministry (Galatians 2:8).

Peter persisted for decades, fulfilling Jesus’ calling for him to be His rock in the foundation of the church, despite imprisonment and persecutions. Jesus’ once weak servant had emerged victoriously to love and serve the Lord without fear. In his final hours, the same man who denied Jesus three times out of fear of sharing His same fate took up his own cross and was crucified. He didn’t want to be elevated to Jesus’ level, so he asked to be crucified upside down. His crucifixion was confirmed by Eusebius, the first church historian, in his book “Ecclesiastical History” and also by Dionysius of Corinth, Tertullian, and Origen.

What an exciting time it must have been in the early church as the number of followers increased daily and transformations were abounding! Imagine being a witness to such miraculous events!

Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” (Acts 3:6)

Thank you for your time.

 

 

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