Simon Peter, a former fisherman, is the third most mentioned person in the New Testament (behind Jesus and Paul) and appears prominently in Matthew’s gospel. He is the spokesman for the disciples, has intimate conversations with Jesus where he questions and rebukes Jesus, and fails greatly. Here are fourteen ways Peter is every one of us.
Peter responds and follows
Jesus of Nazareth calls Peter to leave his fishing occupation to “catch” people instead. At once, Peter responds and follows Jesus (Matthew 4:18–20).
I make disciples by mentoring and teaching. How have you responded to Jesus’s calling to follow him?
Peter witnesses Jesus’s power
Peter gets an up close and personal demonstration of Jesus’s power and compassion, when Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law (Mathew 8:14–15).
Complications during the deliveries of both my sons made their births miraculous. What miracles have you seen Jesus do that have increased your faith?
Peter steps out in faith
Peter displays his growing faith by requesting to imitate Jesus walking on water. He steps out of the boat and begins walking toward Jesus. But doubts set in quickly and Jesus rescues him from sinking (Matthew 14:28–31).
I’ve accepted a new role with new responsibilities. How have you stepped out in faith, responding to Jesus’s call to “come”?
Peter declares the truth
Peter is the first to recognize Jesus’s true identity. In a moment of revelation by God, Peter declares Jesus to be the anointed, prophesied Messiah, the Christ (Matthew 16:16–18).
During times of mentoring, the Spirit gives me words of truth not my own. When have you said something so startling that you know it was only the Holy Spirit that revealed it to you?
Peter cannot accept Jesus’s plan
When Peter hears that Jesus will be arrested and killed, he cannot accept it. He rebukes—sharply admonishes—Jesus, his rabbi. In response Jesus says that Peter is thinking about human concerns which may draw Jesus into sin (Matthew 16:22–23).
I was not ready to let go of our overseas ministry when God directed us to the USA. When have you refused to accept God’s plan?
Peter wants to hoard the kingdom
Peter enjoys the special attention of witnessing Jesus’s glorified body in the presence of Moses and Elijah on the mountaintop. And he wants to stay there, hoarding his own kingdom, rather than sharing the good news with others (Matthew 17:4).
I love being with my immediate family so much that I rarely think of inviting a stranger to our gatherings. When have you wanted to hoard your kingdom blessings rather than spread them to others?
Peter gets a private lesson
Jesus turns the request for payment of the temple tax into a lesson for Peter. Just as princes do not have to pay the king’s tax, Jesus is exempt because the temple belongs to his Father (thus emphasizing his deity and the end of the temple system). But in order to not cause unnecessary offense, Jesus miraculously provides the required coin in the mouth of a fish (Matthew 17:24–27).
I often find illustrations of spiritual truths in daily events. When has Jesus changed an ordinary thing into a teachable moment for you?
Peter asks about forgiveness
Peter asks Jesus how many times he should forgive another, thinking that seven times is sufficient. Jesus answers that because God has forgiven us, we are enabled to forgive endlessly (Matthew 18:21–22).
I’d like people to “get it together” after a few tries. Who might you need to forgive yet again?
Peter will be rewarded
Peter wants to know what reward he’ll receive for following Jesus. Jesus promises that any who leave family for his sake will receive a hundred times as much in eternity. The first will be last and the last will be first (Matthew 19:27–30).
I left my home and family to join a mission agency to care for global workers. Who and what have you left to follow Jesus? Remember your reward.
Peter declares his intentions
When Jesus predicts that Peter will fall away, he declares that even if everyone else does, he never will! But Jesus warns that Peter will disown him three times. Again, Peter emphasizes that he will die before he disowns Jesus (Matthew 26:31–35).
Like Peter, I don’t think I’ll ever disown Jesus, but I’ve never had my life threatened. When have you declared you will never fall away?
Peter sleeps on the job
When Jesus asks Peter to wait and pray for him, Peter falls asleep. He cannot stay awake for even one hour (Matthew 26:31–37, 40).
I get so distracted when I try to practice the discipline of silence in God’s presence. When has God asked you to remain in his presence and you could not stay focused?
Peter defends Jesus
When Jesus is arrested, Peter draws his sword and cuts off the ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus tells Peter to put away his sword because he can call angels to defend himself if necessary (Matthew 26:52–54, John 18:10).
I can get pretty fired up when I think my Jesus is being attacked. How do you try to defend Jesus with human methods?
Peter waits at a distance
Even though the disciples flee after Jesus’s arrest (Matthew 26:56), Peter does not run away entirely. He follows Jesus at a distance into the the courtyard of the high priest, sits down, and waits to see what will happen to Jesus (Matthew 26:58).
Sometimes I hesitate to get on board with a plan until I see evidence that I’ll be okay. When have you waited tentatively to see what would happen?
Peter denies Jesus
While waiting in the courtyard, a servant girl asks Peter if he was with Jesus. He denies it, feigning ignorance. Peter moves to the gate, where another servant girl says she saw him with Jesus. This time Peter swears his doesn’t know the man. Then a group of bystanders question him a third time saying his accent gives him away. This time, Peter curses. Immediately a rooster crows, Peter remembers Jesus’s prediction, and he begins to weep bitterly (Matthew 26:69–75).
I prefer blending into a crowd rather than drawing attention to my Christian beliefs, hoping no one will ask. How might you have declared you don’t know Jesus?
While Peter’s fellow disciple, John, tells us that Jesus reinstates and commissions Peter to shepherd the new congregation (John 21:15–19), and Luke tells us that Peter leads the first church service and evangelistic rally (Acts 1:15–16; 2:14), Matthew ends his portraits of Peter here with his failure.
Because Peter represents every one of us. We all fail in one way or another. But our actions aren’t the the point here. What’s important is God’s love. Because he loves us, we can doubt, we can stop striving. We can risk. God will use us to help build his kingdom even if we mess up.
God will accomplish what he wants to accomplish even through his messy people. He built the church on Peter. He can handle us.Dr. Dipa Hart
Because I am loved, I can ________________________________________________ (fill in the blank).