The Disciples: Peter, who failed then flamed

(Written by Ange van der Leeuw)

There is more on Peter than any other disciple in the bible. He was Christ’s right-hand man. I just love Peter because he was so human. He was bumbling, impatient, zealous, naïve and yet faithful and so eager to learn. One cannot help but see the transforming power of the Holy Spirit as Simon the fisherman becomes Peter, the rock and foundation on which God chose to build His church.

Peter, before his conversion, worked with his brother Andrew as a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee. He was a married man (Mk 1:30) who frequently took his wife along with him on his missionary travels (1 Cor 9:5). He was brought to Jesus by his brother Andrew, who told him, “We have found the Messiah” (Jn 1:41). John writes, “When Jesus looked at him, he said, ‘You are Simon, the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas’ (which is translated, A Stone)” (Jn 1:42). From this point forward, Simon was known in Aramaic as Cephas, or in Greek, Peter.

Peter was a typical Galilean. Among the twelve, Peter was the leader. He stands out as a spokesman for all the twelve Apostles. It is he who asked how often he must forgive. It is he who inquired about the reward for all of those who follow Jesus. It is he who was at the Mount of Transfiguration. It is Peter who walked on water. It is he who saw Jairus’ daughter raised to life. Yet, it is he who denied Christ 3 times before a maiden before the rooster crowed. He was an Apostle and a missionary who laid down his life for his Lord. It is true, Peter had many faults, but he had always the saving grace of the loving heart. No matter how many times he had fallen and failed, he always recovered his courage and integrity.

It is he who first confessed Jesus and declared Him as the Son of the Living God. At Caesarea Philippi, Jesus, after hearing who the people were saying he was, turned to his disciples and said, “Who do you say that I am?” (Mt 16:15). Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16), to which Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Mt 16:17-19).

After Jesus ascended to heaven, Peter seemed fearless as he travelled the country preaching the Gospel. Peter is reported to have performed many miracles: “They brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them” (Acts 5:15). He was imprisoned for his faith on many occasions. He was called to take the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 10:45) According to tradition, Peter fled from Rome in about 67 A.D. to avoid martyrdom during the persecution of the church by Emperor Nero. As he was journeying away from the city he had a vision of Jesus which caused Peter to feel ashamed so he returned to Rome where he was arrested and executed. In fulfilment of Jesus’ prophecy (Jn 21:18-19), Peter died a martyr’s death.

Peter’s emblem shows two crossed keys, symbolizing the confession of faith upon which the Church is founded: You are the true Christ, the Son of the living God (Matt. 16:16). The inverted cross symbolizes how, at his crucifixion, Peter requested that his head might be where his Master’s feet were nailed to the cross.

What encouragement do you take from Peter’s life? Have you ever felt ashamed of being a follower of Jesus? How do others know you are a follower of Jesus? How do you answer the question Jesus asks, Who do you say I am? Does the life you are living match the answer? What are you doing to advance the Kingdom of God?

PRAYER: Lord God, I thank you for the example of Peter’s life. I thank you for the hope it provides in that no matter how many times I may blow it, or let you down, you still place your faith in me and call me to be a part of the Mission of building your congregation (Kingdom) today. Show me please how to do that with integrity, with faith and with the power of the Spirit. AMEN

SONG: Come and Follow by Don Francisco  –