Jesus’ first words to Simon Peter were “Come, follow me” (Mark 1:17). His last words to him were “You must follow me” (John 21:22). Every step of the way between those two challenges, Peter never failed to follow – even though he often stumbled.
When Jesus entered Peter’s life, this plain fisherman became a new person with new goals and new priorities. He did not become a perfect person, however, and he never stopped being Simon Peter. We may wonder what Jesus saw in Simon that made him greet this potential disciple with a new name. Peter – the “rock”. Impulsive Peter certainly didn’t act like a rock much of the time. But when Jesus chose his followers, he wasn’t looking for models; he was looking for real people. He chose people who could be changed by his love, and then he sent them out to communicate that his acceptance was available to anyone – even to those who often fail.
We may wonder what Jesus sees in us when he calls us to follow him. But we know Jesus accepted Peter, and, in spite of his failures, Peter went on to do great things for God. Are you willing to keep following Jesus, even when you fail?
Strengths and accomplishments:
- Became the recognised leader among Jesus’ disciples – one of the inner group of three
- Was the first great voice of the gospel during and after Pentecost
- Probably knew Mark and gave him information for the Gospel of Mark
- Wrote 1 and 2 Peter
Weaknesses and mistakes:
- Often spoke without thinking, was brash and impulsive
- During Jesus’ trial, denied three times that he even knew Jesus
- Later found it hard to treat Gentile Christians as equals
Lessons from his life:
- Enthusiasm has to be backed up by faith and understanding, or it fails
- God’s faithfulness can compensate for our greatest unfaithfulness
- It is better to be a follower who fails than one who fails to follow
- Occupations: Fisherman, disciple
- Relatives: Father: John. Brother: Andrew
- Contemporaries: Jesus, Pilate, Herod
Key verse: “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).
Peter’s story is told in the Gospels and the book of Acts. He is mentioned in Galatians 1:18 and 2:7-14; and he wrote the books of 1 and 2 Peter.