The first disciple Jesus called to follow Him was Simon, also known as Peter.
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.”
God Had A Plan For Peter.
Jesus’ first words to Peter, “Come, follow me,” were answered with immediate action from Peter and his brother: Mark 1:18 At once they left their nets and followed him.
Jesus’ last words to Peter are found in John 21:22 …You must follow me.” Hmm… why did Jesus find it necessary to again instruct Peter to “follow” Him?
As we read in the gospels about the life of Peter, we discover 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.
Jesus, our Savior who knows all, is able to determine those who will love Him with their hearts though they may stumble. 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 Christ’s teaching. That is 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 three times. But that did not matter. Jesus choosing Peter as His follower reveals Jesus totally knew Peter’s heart.
Peter was a recognized leader among Jesus’ twelve disciples, and after Jesus’ ascension, Peter was the first to organize 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 claimed Scripture was fulfilled through the fall of Judas Zechariah 11:12-13. Now that Judas was gone, they needed to appoint a new disciple to fill Judas’ void.
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.
Have you ever reacted negatively toward Jesus?
- Afraid to admit you are Christian?
- Doubtful Jesus can help you face any trail?
- Confused about returning to our old ways?
Jesus’ last words to Peter, “…You must follow me.”, were said to reinforce all the teachings Peter had learned from Jesus because Jesus is The Only Way! Peter had stumbled so often he wasn’t sure of himself. That’s why he went back to his old way – fishing for fish!
But Jesus was sure of Peter. Jesus loved Peter, knew his heart, and had selected him in the beginning to fish for people.
Does this story sound familiar? Are you also afraid, doubtful or confused about Jesus? It is not uncommon to react like Peter did at times. But don’t spend time worrying about it because God has a plan for you to fulfill. He has chosen you, just as He chose Peter.
And like Peter, we fail sometimes when it comes to Jesus. Our only true perfectness is in knowing Him. A relationship with Jesus keeps us trying to live His Word, just like Peter did.
Jesus selected us. Jesus knew us before we were born. And I hope you hear Jesus speak to you just as He spoke to Peter – “You must follow me.”