Simon, also known as Peter, is noted in the Bible as the first disciple Jesus called to follow Him.
Mark 1:16-17 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”
Jesus’ first words to Peter were “Come, follow me,”. This simple invitation was answered with immediate action from Peter and Andrew: Mark 1:18 At once they left their nets and followed him.
Jesus’ last words to Peter were: John 21:22 …You must follow me.” Hmm… why did Jesus find it necessary to again instruct Peter to “follow” Him?
While we read through the gospels and focus on the life of Peter, we find out that Peter did a lot of stumbling as he followed Jesus. Yes, Jesus knew when He called this simple fisherman that Peter was imperfect because Jesus knows all: John 2:24-25 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.
Being our Savior who knows all, Jesus is able to determine those who will love Him with their hearts. Jesus knew when He selected Peter that Peter would at times falter, however, Jesus also knew Peter’s heart would be changed from his old self into a new follower of Christian teaching. That would be why Jesus changed Peter’s original name from Simon to Peter, which means rock in Greek.
Jesus was well aware that Peter would fumble… stumble… and in fact deny Christ. But the fact that Jesus choose Peter as His follower showed us Jesus knew Peter’s heart.
Peter was a recognized leader among Jesus’ twelve disciples. After Jesus’ ascension, Peter was the first to start organizing their growing group: Acts 1:15-17 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) and said, “Brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.”
At this first meeting of Jesus’ followers, Peter pointed out Scripture was fulfilled through the fall of Judas Zechariah 11:12-13. Now that Judas was gone they needed to appoint a new disciple, or apostle, to fill the void left by him. Peter was a force in spreading Christianity, but there were times in previous situations where Peter was:
- Afraid – Matthew 26:73-75 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.” Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
- Doubtful – Matthew 14:29-31 “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?”
- Confused – John 21:2-4 Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
Just like we react sometimes under certain circumstances. We can be afraid to admit we are Christian. Doubtful Jesus can help us face any trail. And confused about whether or not to return to our old ways – in Peter’s case being a fisherman – because we do not accept all that Jesus tells us.
Jesus’ last words to Peter John 21:22 …You must follow me.”, were said to reinforce all the teachings Peter had learned from Jesus. Jesus is The Only Way! Because Peter had stumbled so often he wasn’t sure of himself – but Jesus was sure of Peter. Jesus loved Peter, knew his heart, and had selected him in the beginning. Psalm 139:16 Your eyes [God’s eyes] saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Does this story sound familiar? Are you afraid, doubt or confused of Jesus? It is not uncommon to react like that at times. We all fail when it comes to Jesus. The only true perfectness of our life stories, just like Peter’s, is in knowing Jesus Christ. We simply have to keep on trying our best to live His Word. He selected us, He knew us before we were born, and He speaks to us just as He spoke to Peter – “You must follow me.”