Last week, Jesus called four men to follow Him. One of these, Peter, acts as a representative of Jesus' disciples. There's a lot that we can learn from him.
Last week, we looked at Mark chapter 1. Within just 17 verses, Jesus called Peter to follow Him. Seemingly sight unseen. But Mark, the briefest of Gospels, wrote to an "action-oriented" Roman audience, so he left out a few preceding events.
Here's what happened before Peter was selected to follow Jesus:
Right after John the Baptist baptized Jesus, God revealed that Jesus is the Christ, the very One that John had been preaching. The Baptist tells Andrew. Andrew goes out and meets Jesus, believes in Jesus, then he goes and looks for his brother, Simon,
John 1:41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, "We have found the Messiah" (which translated means Christ). 42 He brought Simon to Jesus. [At some point in their meeting, was it a half-hour, all day, I think Peter trusted Jesus; for in that meeting:] Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas" (which is translated Peter).
Jesus gave Simon a new name, an additional name, Stone, Rock, a new identity, which highlights the significance of the change that Jesus makes to those who believe in Him.
Whatever identity you choose to be known by, however you present yourself to be loved, significant, worthy of respect—the identity Jesus gives is infinitely better and actually true.
Whether you highlight your gender, race, body image, business or financial success activism, or victimhood, the way Jesus knows you and the Father sees you is vastly greater.
No matter who you are, those who trust Jesus to reconcile them with God are assured they are faultlessly loved, infinitely significant, one with Jesus, fully righteous and beloved by the Father, created in God's image, able to commune with God, and preparing to reign with God.
After Jesus met with Peter and changed his name and how Peter sees himself, Jesus performed His first miracle at a wedding in Cana. More than a miracle, it was the first sign of who Jesus is. A time of joy. He made water into wine. He's the King looking forward to His Wedding Feast with the church.
John 2:11 This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and revealed His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.
Once again, His disciples, Andrew, Nathaniel, Peter? "believe in Him." They are saved. They are growing in their faith and knowledge of Jesus. Jesus reveals more about Himself and His disciples believe. All of this takes place, before Jesus calls Peter to follow Him the first time,
Mark 1:16 As He was going along the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, "Follow Me, and I will have you become fishers of people." 18 Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.
This first time Jesus calls them, He was walking along the shore and He saw Simon and Andrew on the lake casting their nets. But in Luke chapter 5, maybe just weeks after this, Jesus is standing before a large crowd teaching, and Peter and Andrew were onshore, washing their nets not casting them.
Luke 5:3 And [Jesus] got into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little distance from the land. And He sat down and continued teaching the crowds from the boat. 4 Now when He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch." 5 Simon responded and said, "Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing," [Jesus tells Peter to do something that he doesn't want to do. He's tired. He knows better. It won't work. It's not worth it.] "But I will do as You say and let down the nets."
God's Word commands us to do things we'd rather not do. God's Spirit makes these commands real in the moment. "Do this." When He does, it's almost always something we don't naturally want to do. That's why He has to tell us. "Apologize for what you did. Be kind to this person. Serve this person."
Jesus doesn't tell Peter to do something that Peter doesn't want to do because He needs anything from Peter. Jesus wants to bless Peter. So Peter tells his crew to let out the nets,
Luke 5:6 And when they had done this, they caught a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to tear; 7 so they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, to the point that they were sinking.
Understand something rich about Jesus from this. Jesus doesn’t have you do something because He needs anything from you, rather He wants something for you. He wants to bless you. He wants to grow your trust in Him that you may walk closer with Him.
When Peter did what Jesus told him to do, our Lord expanded Peter's faith in Him. Peter saw that Jesus was able to see Jesus' authority. He had authority over something that Peter had no authority over. As good of a fisherman as he was, his crew was skunked that night. Through this simple act of obedience, Peter now sees Jesus with new eyes…
Jesus wants to grow your faith and expand your love for Him as you obey Him.
The Spirit of God works to bring you to the point that you want to obey Christ, not because you're such a good person but because you come to believe in the love of God and when He calls you to do something, wow, it's an occasion for deeper intimacy, spiritual growth, honoring God, and blessings.
After they hauled in so many fish the two boats nearly sank under their weight, Peter has perhaps a surprising response...
Luke 5:8 But when Simon Peter saw this, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!"
Jesus says, "Come to Me, follow Me." Peter says, "Go away from me!" As we follow Jesus, we learn more about Him, as Peter did, and more about ourselves, and we may feel guilt or shame and say, "Go away, for I am a wicked man."
Part of following Jesus is confidently trusting God's love in Christ despite the realization of our sin and brokenness.
We often deny this ugly part of us. But as a believer, in your core identity, your sin is completely dealt with.
When you are confronted with something in you that's not fully healed or under control, don't sink into despair, don't push Jesus away! Instead, offer the broken part of you to the Lord for healing, offer the broken act to the Lord for forgiving. Renew your trust in the finished work of the cross for you. Let Jesus speak from His heart to you.
Luke 5:10… And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not fear [don't let your fear or shame push Jesus away]; from now on you will be catching people." 11 When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.
Knowing who you are in Christ, you don't have to live in fear and denial. You can own up to your failures, and still be completely certain of Abba's great love and care for you.
You can face how badly you fail to do the right thing, and be absolutely sure that you are holy and accepted by God.
Trusting in God's grace assured on the cross, you can be totally honest about your weaknesses, and rest assured that Jesus will use you, in fact this humble understanding while trusting God's lovde makes you more effective, more authentic, even more useful.
This second time when Jesus called them, they left everything and followed Jesus.
So we see a process, growth over time and knowing Jesus better.
Later on, Jesus asks His disciples who do people say I am? He's having them process who they believe He is at this point.
Matthew 16:15 He said to them, "But who do you yourselves say that I am?" 16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
Peter gets Jesus!
Jesus tells us how blessed he is, how blessed we are to believe this. For you cannot believe this about Jesus unless the Father, unless the Spirit Himself reveals this to you. But we still need to grow. Peter holds some beliefs that are worldly, even devilish. And Jesus speaks a hard word…
Matthew 16:21 From that time Jesus began to point out to His disciples that it was necessary for Him to go to Jerusalem and to suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and to be killed, and to be raised up on the third day. 22 And yet Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You!" 23 But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's purposes, but men's."
As we follow Jesus, we ebb and flow. We can be praised for our faith yet be rebuked for our wicked perspectives the next day. Part of being Jesus' disciple is "setting your mind on God's purposes, not men's."
Jesus' life goal was to follow the Father in all things. The Father's willed that Jesus lay down His life for us. But here's Peter, like many of us, he was big hearted; he didn't want someone he loved suffer.
In a way, Peter was full of love, yet totally in error. He ignorantly opposed the Father's will. And he was rebuked for it, he was corrected but not rejected. And Jesus' rebuke was love, not rude.
As disciples, we will fail Jesus. We have worldviews that are more satanic than godly, more worldly than biblical.
We live in a culture that does not want God's purposes. We want to be big-hearted, open-minded, and respected in the world. But the world is at odds, in rebellion against Christ.
As much as ever, we need to boldly trust God's love, embrace our identity in Christ and Jesus' call to follow Him, and set our minds on God's purposes.
Again, failure is part of learning and growing as a disciple. Peter constantly failed. He fell asleep on Jesus when He said pray with Me. He told Jesus I'll die for you, but then denied even knowing Jesus. Years later the apostle Paul publicly rebuked Peter for failing to teach grace to a church.
Discipleship is a process. We grow. We fail. We learn about Jesus. And we fail again. Jesus forgives. He restores. And affirms us in His love, uses us where we are at yet works to bring us closer…
Finally, after Jesus was crucified and resurrected, having been prepped by Jesus for the three plus years, Jesus showed Himself to Peter "alive from the dead" multiple times. This changed Peter as well.
Jesus then told Peter something he couldn't have received earlier. He will die in his service to Christ,
John 21:18 "Truly, truly I tell you, when you were younger, you used to put on your belt and walk wherever you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will put your belt on you, and bring you where you do not want to go." 19 Now He said this, indicating by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had said this, He said to him, "Follow Me!"
It shouldn't shock us that Peter grumbled a bit, "But what about John?!" And yet, he followed.
And he, and the church are blessed that he did. But he'd seen too much to say no. He trusted too much. I mean here's Jesus, resurrected! Glorious.
And He calls you to follow Him. Obey Him. Be with Him. Be glorified with Him.