Study highlights from the life of the apostle Peter. Uncover the secret to walking on water. Relate to the humanity of struggling to live a new life in Jesus Christ.
[Peter Eddington] I am thinking of a Biblical character. He was the son of Jonah and he was a fisherman. He was enthusiastic, strong-willed, impulsive and at times maybe even a little brash. He was from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee. His brother was named Andrew and he was one of the 12 apostles chosen by Jesus from His first disciples and he was one of only a few disciples who witnessed the transfiguration. He confessed Jesus as the Messiah and he was part of Jesus’ inner-circle. He preached on the day of Pentecost and here is one that will definitely give it away if you don’t know who it is now, this biblical character denied Jesus three times. Originally his name was Simon but Jesus called him Caphas or Cephas, which translated mean Peter or rock.
What fascinates me about the life of the apostle Peter when I study it, is that he was a real person with real challenges, with real failings, and yet he overcame his limitations through the power of the Holy Spirit and showed us that we too can become converted. We too can live a successful Christian life no matter our own past shortcomings. In fact, such was his faith that he even walked on water. Have you ever tried to do that?
Let’s study into the life of this amazing individual. Let’s see what we can learn from him and I have titled this sermon: The secret to walking on water.
What kind of people did Jesus call to be a part of His work? Well, we know He didn’t call Caesar or asked the Roman Governor to join Him, or even the Jewish High Priest or the Sadducees to join Him in His earthly ministry. No, He chose regular people, regular folks. He chose tax collectors, not lawyers; He chose fishermen, not multinational corporation CEO’s; He chose sinners, not the self-righteous and guess what? He chose you and me too and we are the lesser known people of our communities, aren’t we?
Let’s turn to John 1 and look at John 1:40-44 John 1:40-44 40 One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.
41 He first finds his own brother Simon, and said to him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.
42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, You are Simon the son of Jona: you shall be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.
43 The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and finds Philip, and said to him, Follow me.
44 Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
American King James Version×and let’s get this introduction here to our story:
John 1:40 John 1:40One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.
American King James Version× One of the two who heard John (the Baptist) speak, and followed Him, (Jesus) was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.
V.41 (and Andrew) first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ).
V.42 - And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah. (Aren’t you?) You shall be called Cephas” (or Caphas), (which is translated, A Stone).
V.43 The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.”
V.44 - Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
So Simon or Peter was originally from Bethasida but he lived in Capernaum. He had a house there. Both of those are cities on the coast of the Sea of Galilee. It is actually up towards the top of the Sea of Galilee. The Jordan River comes right down in the middle. On the east you’ve got Bethsaida and on the other side of the Jordan you’ve got Capernaum, right there at the top of the Sea of Galilee. And in the ancient world nearly everyone had two names. Greek was the universal language from, you know, different parts of the region and nearly everyone had a name in Greek and in his own native tongue by which he was known to his friends. Peter was Greek and Caphas or Cephas was Aramaic. They are not actually two different names, they are the same name in two different languages.
So let’s study the life of the apostle Peter here a bit more and see what type of individual he was. What was his major accomplishments? Where did he struggle with His faith? I have divided it up into four main areas and the first area I’ve simply called: The fisherman.
In 1986 a 27 foot long boat was found on the North-West shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. An archaeologist simply called it The Sea of Galilee Boat. It is in museums today. Some call it the Jesus Boat because it was a first century boat. A fishing boat from the first century. It first appeared during a drought when the waters of the sea, actually a great fresh water lake - you know the Sea of Galilee is not salt water. It is not a sea. It is actually lake. In a drought the waters receded and this 27 foot long boat came into view and this Sea of Galilee boat, as they call it, is an important example of the type of boat used in the first century for both fishing but also for transportation across the lake. So these are a bit more than just a dingy or a very small rowing boat, you know, about 30 foot long.
Until this discovery only references made by Roman authors, and the Bible and some Mosaics have provided archaeologists an insight into the construction of these types of vessels. The boat is important to our studies because this was the sort of the boat used by Jesus and His disciples, several of whom were fishermen, and you can go into Wikipedia or just Google “The Sea of Galilee Boat” or “The Jesus Boat” and you can see pictures of it, you know in a museum, but boats such as this have played a large role in Jesus’ life and ministry and is mentioned more than 50 times just in the Gospels alone, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - these types of boats.
Being a fisherman was not for the weak or the faint of heart. This job was very physically demanding and could be dangerous if a storm caught you off guard. Fishermen were known for their loud personalities. Maybe this is why Peter’s business partners, James and John, were referred to as the Sons of Thunder. I am not sure; that is one piece of speculation.
Let’s look at Luke 5 now and look a bit more at the story.
Luke 5:1 Luke 5:1And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed on him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret,
American King James Version× So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him (Jesus) to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, - Which is Galilee,
V.2 - and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets.
V.3 - Then (Jesus) got into one of the boats, which was Simons’ , and asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat.
V.4 - When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”
V.5 - but Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, (come on!) we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” - but just so You know, I doubt it is going to work.
V.6 - And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking.
V.7 - So they signalled to their partners in the other boat - that was James and John - to come and help them. and they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.
V.8 - When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!”
He is thinking: why did I doubt You?
V.9 - For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken;
V.10 - and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid, From now on you will catch men.”
V.11 - So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Jesus.
This famous sheet of water in Galilee is called by three names: The sea of Galilee, the Lake or Sea of Gennesaret and the Sea of Tiberius. Tiberius is a city about half-way down on the west side of the Sea of Galilee - Tiberius. It is 13 miles long by 8 miles wide and it lies in a dip in the earth’s surface and is 680 feet below see level. So it is actually a sub-tropical climate down there on the lake. Today it is not real populous but in the days of Jesus it had 9 towns around its shores and with a minimum of 15,000 in each town. So it was quite well populated.
Let’s go over Mark 1 and look at a parallel account of what we just read in Luke 5.
Mark 1:14 Mark 1:14Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
American King James Version× Now after John - that is John the Baptist - was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
V.15 - and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
hose two verses are actually what we use for our Kingdom of God seminars we held a couple of years ago. That was the foundation for our seminars. “ The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
V.16 - And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.
V.17 - Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”
V.18 - They immediately left their nets and followed Him.
V.19 - When He had gone a little father from there, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the boat mending their nets.
V.20 - And immediately He called them and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went after Him.
And fishing was a major business of the era. The four brothers had their own prosperous fishing business. Simon and Andrew, and then James and John, were partners in a fishing business. They owned their own nets, had their own boats, had multiple employees who worked under them - perhaps this is what allowed them to actually leave the business behind and then follow Jesus in His ministry, because they left the business in the capable hands of James’ and John’s dad, Zebedee and other employees and servants.
They were also savvy business men. It appears the brothers changed the city their business was based out of in order to get a tax break. You know we live in Union Township. Because we are not living in the suburbs of Cincinnati, the incorporated suburb, we save 1% on our taxes. The Home Office here is in Miami Township which means we save another 1% on our taxes. So 2% altogether by living in these Townships instead of in incorporated parts of Cincinnati. So they were smart businessmen.
I’ve got an interesting story here. It is an article called: “Fishers of Fish; Fishers of Men” by Jerome Murphy O’Connor and it was printed in the Biblical Archeology Review from June 1999. “Fishers of Fish; Fishers of Men”, and here is what O’Connor said:
“Bethsaida was but one of 13 ancient harbors that decorated the coast of the Sea of Galilee.” That is, Bethsaida was east of the Jordan River, right, on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee. He says: “It is unlikely that all had the specialized facilities that were necessary to preserve fish so that it could be transported any distance.” So what they did with fish in those days was actually salt it to preserve it for transportation and for a longer life on the shelf. He says: “Given the size of the lake, it would have made economic sense to have a central fish factory to process the catch of the many small harbors. That such was in fact the case is strongly suggested by the name of one harbour, Taricheae, which is translated ‘the Fish Factory’”. They have since found evidence of the Fish Factory and the salting that was done to the fish. “Thus, as the name indicates Taricheae was the place where fish were salted.” Taricheae was 3 miles north of Tiberius on the western side of Galilee; the western shore of lake Galilee.
He says, “for the fishermen of Bethsaida, bringing fish to be processed at Taricheae created a serious problem. They were residents of the territory of Philip,” on the east “but Taricheae was in the territory of Herod Antipas, Philip’s half brother.” Which was on the west.
“The two territories were divided by the Jordan River. Not surprisingly, the first village on Antipas’s side of the border, was ‘Capernaum.’” And we read in Mark 2:14 Mark 2:14And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said to him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him.
American King James Version× that there was a tax or a toll collector right there across the river and Matthew 8:5 Matthew 8:5And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came to him a centurion, beseeching him,
American King James Version× says there was a small garrison of Roman soldiers to protect these taxes being collected. O’Connor says: “If tariffs were levied on goods coming across the border, then fishermen coming from outside Antipas’s territory to have their fish processed at Taricheae no doubt paid a premium for the privilege.”
“This tax problem explains why Simon Peter and Andrew moved across the Jordan from Bethsaida to Capernaum, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.”
This just gives a little bit of a background as to the dynamics of the day and trying to run a business at that time and avoid taxes wherever you could - get a tax break. So these fishermen were smart and ran a profitable enterprise and in addition the brothers probably spoke Aramaic although with a Galilean accent some would say, as well as Hebrew and Greek, and Greek was what the more educated spoke.
When Jesus called Peter, Peter was willing to walk away from the business, probably leaving it in the hands of Zebedee and servants and other employees. But here is the key point in this part of Peter’s life that we just read about: Follow Me and I’ll make you fishers of men.
And what are we being told to do? Go therefore and make disciples in all the nations. Just like in the first century we too in the 21st century are to cast a wide net, gather up the fish and make disciples of those whom God is calling to His way of life. We too have been told to catch men and women. Each of us here has a responsibility to support the fishing expedition. To mend the nets; to offer prayerful support; to provide funds for new boats, or new websites today, right? - New magazines and to help nurture those whom God called into the fold. We too are to become fishers of men as the wider body of God’s Church today.
So that’s where the apostle Peter started out, as a fisherman who changed careers, to then catch men and women.
Number two I’ve called: The family man; The family man. We read in the book of Matthew that Jesus healed Peter’s mother in law. It is in Matthew 8 and also in Mark 1 . Look at the account in Mark with me.
Mark 1:29 Mark 1:29And immediately, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.
American King James Version× Now as soon as they had come out of the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.
So Simon and Andrew had a house together, the brother’s did, and James and John, their business partners, were with them.
V.30 - But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick with a fever, and they told Him about her at once.
They told Jesus about it right away.
V.31 - So He (Jesus) came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and immediately the fever left her. And she served them.
This tells us he was a married man and his wife was part of his work because she accompanied him on some of his journeys later in his ministry as an apostle. 1 Corinthians 9:5 1 Corinthians 9:5Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?
American King James Version× mentions that:
1 Corinthians 9:5 1 Corinthians 9:5Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?
American King James Version× It is actually Paul speaking to the Corinthians and Paul said: Do we have no right to take along a believing wife,- on these trips - as do also the other apostles - the other apostles being the brothers of the Lord including Cephas, or including Peter.
So the apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:5 1 Corinthians 9:5Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brothers of the Lord, and Cephas?
American King James Version× not only could he have claimed support from the Church for himself in this work, doing the work of God, he said, I also could have claimed compensation for my wife if I’ve had one. In fact, he says, the other apostles did receive such support. So Peter’s wife was along on some of these journeys. We don’t know her name or anything else about her actually, but one day upon the resurrection of the saints you may like to ask her what it was like being the wife of an apostle in the 1st century; the challenges that they faced and watching your husband get stoned and beat up and maybe they even had children. There is one person mentioned in Peter’s letter, in 1 Peter 5:13 1 Peter 5:13The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, salutes you; and so does Marcus my son.
American King James Version× that may be his actual son.
Peter is signing off 1 Peter 5 here and he says:
1 Peter 5:10 1 Peter 5:10But the God of all grace, who has called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you.
American King James Version× But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.
V.11 - To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
V.13 - She who is in Babylon, elect together with you, greets you; and so does Mark my son.
Some say this may have been John Mark who wrote the gospel of Mark and not an actual blood relative, others say no, it was his son named Mark. But despite the calls for some churches for their ministry to be celibate we see one of the leading men as a family man and God is a family. He is adding sons and daughters to it; that is each of us. And as the apostle Peter himself wrote, we will be partakers of that family. We will join that family and we too will partake of the divine. We will become like Jesus Christ and God the Father when we join that family. That is in 2 Peter 1:4 2 Peter 1:4Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
American King James Version× where Peter says that.
2 Peter 1:4 2 Peter 1:4Whereby are given to us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
American King James Version× by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature.
So Peter was a family man.
Let’s now move into the real nitty gritty of Peter’s life and I’ve titled section three: The humanity of living a new life in Christ; The humanity of living a new life in Christ.
Peter’s life as a Christian after becoming converted was radically different to his earlier years. He was no longer a fisherman but a disciple of Jesus Christ. He learned to live a new life focusing on the example of Jesus Christ but Peter showed his humanity as he struggled to do so. Jesus had a special connection with three of the fishermen: Peter, James and John. And so, as we go through here, let’s look at some of them and note the transformed life of Peter in particular.
First of all, Peter became the de facto spokesman. I don’t think Jesus appointed him as a spokesman but he decided he was a spokesman for all twelve. Just let me give you three examples out of many and I think you’ll recognize some of these.
So, ah, says the whole group, right? Hey, won’t you explain that?
Matthew 18: 21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”
You are familiar with some of these quotes, right? So here’s Peter once again kind of the de facto spokesman asking the questions that maybe nobody else would ask. Just one more:
Matthew 19:27 Matthew 19:27Then answered Peter and said to him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed you; what shall we have therefore?
American King James Version× Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?”
So he is kind of putting a little bit of a demand there, you know. What is this calling going to bring for us? Left the business behind, now what? And he became the de facto spokesman and asked some of the brash questions that nobody else seemed to want to raise.
Look at Mark 5:35 Mark 5:35While he yet spoke, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, Your daughter is dead: why trouble you the Master any further?
American King James Version× because Peter, James and John were the only three who saw Jesus raise the daughter of Jairus from the dead. I am going to give you some more of the background here in his life.
Mark 5:35 Mark 5:35While he yet spoke, there came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house certain which said, Your daughter is dead: why trouble you the Master any further?
American King James Version× While He was still speaking, some came from the ruler of the synagogue’s house who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?”
V.36 - As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, He said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not be afraid; only believe.”
V.37 - And He permitted no one to follow Him except Peter, James and John - and it says - John, the brother of James.
They are trying to make sure you don’t think its John the Baptist, or something. It is Peter, James and John and it was John, James’ brother.
V.38 - Then He came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and saw a tumult and those who wept and wailed loudly.
V.40 - And they ridiculed Him. But when He had put them all outside, He took the father and the mother of the child, and those who were with Him - which is Peter, James and John - and entered where the child was lying. - Dead.
V.41 - Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, “Talitha, cumi”, which is translated, “little girl, I say to you, arise.”
V.42 - Immediately the girl arose and walked for she was twelve years of age. And they were overcome with great amazement.
V.43 - But He commanded them strictly that no one should know it, and said that something should be given her to eat. - and take care of her; look after her.
And so Peter, James and John were part of Jesus’ inner circle and said and did and saw things that none of the other disciples did. They were the only three who saw the glory of Christ at the transfiguration. That is in Matthew 17 . I am going to read you some verses from there.
Matthew 17:1 Matthew 17:1And after six days Jesus takes Peter, James, and John his brother, and brings them up into an high mountain apart,
American King James Version× Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves;
V.2 - and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.
So Jesus turned into someone that looked like God.
V.3 - And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.
So this is a vision then of Moses and Elijah. It wasn’t actually them. It was a vision.
V.5 - While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud saying “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased . - Listen to Him, or - Hear Him!”
So God the Father was speaking in this special transfiguration.
V.9 - Now as they came down from the mountain Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the son of Man is risen from the dead.”
So they were only three who saw this particular vision, Peter, James and John.
James and John were tasked with preparing the last meal Jesus would have with His disciples and it was Peter who experienced walking on water. Let’s turn to this one because it is the title upon which the sermon is based.
Matthew 14:28 Matthew 14:28And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be you, bid me come to you on the water.
American King James Version× And Peter answered Him and said, - kind of looking through the mist on the water - “Lord, if it is You command me to come to You on the water”.
V.29 - So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.
What is the secret to walking on water? How is it done? When beckoned by Jesus Christ we focus on Him and nothing else. As soon as we lose focus we fail; we sink. And as you know from the story that is what happened to Peter when, after his initial success in the endeavor, he looked around him and said, this is impossible, and fell in. Don’t lose focus when beckoned by Jesus Christ. He started to doubt the power of God but he did actually walk on water. You try that sometime.
I am reminded of when Jesus said: If you have had just the amount of faith as a tiny little mustard seed, you could move a mountain. I think that is even more difficult than walking on water - is to move a mountain. Putting aside fear and doubt goes for all aspects of life and so we ask, what is the secret to any kind of spiritual success? It is keeping our gaze, our eyes, our focus on God, because that’s from where our strength comes.
And on the outside Peter may have seemed like this awesome Christian. He was passionate, zealous, bold, spoke up when the rest wouldn’t, and he was very closely connected to Jesus’ inner circle and most private miracles and events that others didn’t get to see and he was the first to recognize Jesus for who He really was, that is the Son of God. It is in:
And who is the first to speak up?
V.16 - Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
V.17 - Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah - Simon, son of Jonah - for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
This kind of understanding could only come from the Father in heaven. It was a spiritual type of understanding that Peter was gleaning here. So this was the outward appearance of Peter but the scriptures reveal a man of human weakness on the inside.
If you could see what he was like on the inside you would see a man who struggled with fear, doubt and other weaknesses. He weaknesses resulted in him falling asleep multiple times when Jesus told him to stay awake and look out and pray and watch. In several instances Peter showed himself to be impetuous to the point of rashness. We catch glimpses of this throughout the gospels. Peter’s fear caused him to deny Jesus three times, not just once, and he was human. That is in Matthew 26 and I do want to read this here because there is no mistaking Peter’s denial. But did you know that this trait of denial actually followed him into his later life and ministry, which we are going to see, even up to being converted? We will see that here in a moment.
Matthew 26:33 Matthew 26:33Peter answered and said to him, Though all men shall be offended because of you, yet will I never be offended.
American King James Version× Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.”
V.69 - Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. and a servant girl came to him, saying, “you also were with Jesus of Galilee.” - weren’t you?
V.70 - But he denied it before them all, saying, - I don’t know what you are talking about! -
V.71 - And when he had gone out to the gateway, - it is kind of sneak out a little bit now - another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
V.72 - But again he denied with an oath. - He took an oath and said: “I do not know the Man!”
V.73 - And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.”
You’ve got that accent from Galilee.
V.74 - Then he began to curse and swear, - what? The apostle Peter swearing, cursing? I don’t even know what the curses were back then. I bet I don’t but Peter said: “I do not know the Man!” Immediately a rooster crowed.
And we know the story, but Peter was cut at the heart at that point when he realized what he had done.
Peter went through a lot before he became the pillar of a Christian that we think of when we hear his name and read his epistles, and eventually he became Jesus’ main representative to the Jews. Look at Galatians 2 . Paul is writing to the Galatians. Galatia is up in modern day Turkey today, if you are following our Churches of Revelation series, in the Bible Study, like I am sure you all are, but:
Galatians 2:6 Galatians 2:6But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatever they were, it makes no matter to me: God accepts no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:
American King James Version× But from those who seemed to be something - those who thought they were big; thought they were important - whatever they were, - says Paul - it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man - for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me.
So Paul was saying, you know, it is the way they lived their life before God, not how important they think they are and God doesn’t show favoritism.
V.7 - But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter,
V.8 - (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles),
V.9 - and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.
So Peter mostly preached to the Jews and it appears later even to other Israelite tribes whereas Paul and Barnabas went to the Gentiles.
Peter struggled and fought against his carnal human nature and personal weaknesses but he was remolded by Jesus. He was converted and filled with the Holy Spirit and he became the leader in spreading the gospel to the Jewish community. Like I said, it seemed even further than that, to other Israelite tribes, but even then he slipped and fell short and it was so human to do so and I can really relate to his struggles and I am sure you do too.
Look what happens then in the next few verses, starting in Galatians 2:11 Galatians 2:11But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
American King James Version× . After being listed right here by Paul as a faithful apostle to the Jewish community Peter once again fell short.
V.11 - Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I (Paul) withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed;
V.12 - for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they (the Jews) came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.
V.13 - And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.
V.14 - But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?
The apostle Peter was showing favoritism and he is being very hypocritical about it. Galatians 2:6 Galatians 2:6But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatever they were, it makes no matter to me: God accepts no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:
American King James Version× says that God does not play favorites and in the deeper sense Peter was denying his faith and only eating with the Gentiles when there were no Jews around. He was denying their calling. He was denying the truth of the gospel. And ever since Jesus’ crucifixion Peter struggled with his hypocrisy. When Jesus died, Peter denied Him openly three times.
I think it is something we too can relate to. Are we at times ashamed of the gospel when we are out in public of with co-workers? But Paul said it was to be overcome and Paul insisted that Peter put this behind him once and for all.
Peter is one of the easiest apostles for us to connect with because he did not have it all together right away. He knew what it felt like to fail, to be down and to have questions. He messed up. He stuck his foot in his mouth. He behaved irrationally.
Let’s go back to Matthew 16 - a little bit earlier in the story again:
Matthew 16:21 Matthew 16:21From that time forth began Jesus to show to his disciples, how that he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
American King James Version× From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.
So Jesus said, the time is getting pretty close now where I am going to be crucified. I am going to loose my life.
V.22 - Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”
Peter said, I’ve got a knife. We can stop this.
V.23 - But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offence to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
Jesus said you are not understanding the whole situation, Peter. And then we read in:
John 18:10 John 18:10Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.
American King James Version× Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.
So Jesus had to put the ear back on. It is like, come on, Peter. What are you doing?
Peter experienced persecution, imprisonment and even torture. He had his failings but he also knew how to rejoice in the midst of these trying and difficult circumstances. He knew how to repent, to move on and then to rejoice in the gospel. And so look at Acts 5 and see what he became. The apostles had just been preaching the gospel and we read:
Acts 5:40 Acts 5:40And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
American King James Version× - the Jews there agreed with some accusations against the apostles - and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
V.41 - So they (which included Peter at this point) departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.
So now rather than denying who Jesus was, Peter spoke boldly about his faith, even rejoicing in it. You see it is possible to change dramatically when we repent of our sins, become baptized, have hands laid upon us to receive the Holy Spirit and become converted and then walk a new life as a true disciple of Jesus Christ.
This is the brutal humanity of living a new life in Christ and Peter shows it just like it is. All the ups and downs. The brutal humanity of living a new life in Christ. Yes, we can know the secret to walking on water and we must not loose focus.
The fourth section I’ve called, the writings of faithfulness; The writings of faithfulness.
In 1Peter and 2 Peter, Peter writes to encourage his readers in their faith during the hard times in which they lived. He wrote to Christians who were experiencing persecution because of their faith, those who were experiencing trials because of their new believe in Jesus Christ, and he talks in these letters to you and me about faith, about obedience and patience when life is not going very well and he shows us that through Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit we can stand up to great stress. And he learned this through tough, real world experiences. Through Christ living in him, through the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter was transformed from a once prideful and boisterous man into an obedient, faithful, humble servant of God.
Look at John 21. Jesus predicted that Peter would eventually be crucified for his faith.
John 21:17 John 21:17He said to him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, love you me? Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, Love you me? And he said to him, Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you. Jesus said to him, Feed my sheep.
American King James Version× He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.
Because that was a commission that was given to Peter that he had to follow then for the rest of his life.
V.18 - “Most assuredly, I say to you (says Jesus), when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished;
He said, you lived your life any way you wanted to. You had a thriving business; you went to the restaurants you wanted to go to; you talked to the people who you wanted to talk to.
V.18 - … but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.”
He says, that freedom is going to be gone, Peter.
V.19 - This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. and when He had spoken this, He said to him (Peter) “Follow Me.”
Eusebius, who was a 4th century writer, claimed in his Ecclesiastical History book that all the apostles were martyred except for John. This prophecy here in the book of John 21 about Peter was presumably fulfilled during Nero’s evil reign when a lot of Christians and apostles were martyred, many of them apparently crucified.
A transformation is not easy. It is possible, and the apostle Peter proved it as has so many of God’s saints since. He was not the only one. We can tell stories of even saints in our time – in our church – that had been faithful to the end. And in the end Peter did not deny Christ and it led to his martyrdom. It is possible through the power of God working in us for us to be transformed in the very same manner. To figuratively walk on water; to beat all odds. Through Peter we see that Christ can forgive unfaithfulness and we can overcome any weakness.
Let’s read a few verses from 1 Peter as we conclude here. Peter did write to his disciples and the church members under his care to try and encourage them, even when things weren’t going well.
1 Peter 1:6 1 Peter 1:6Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
American King James Version× In this you greatly rejoice, - in this calling we greatly rejoice - though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,
V.7 - that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,
So when Jesus Christ returns and you are resurrected your faith will be much more precious than if you’ve had a rich life and had lots of gold.
V.9 - receiving the end of your faith - the salvation of your souls.
He says that is what it leads to, no matter the trials, the salvation of your souls is where you faith will lead.
So then here is what we are told to do then:
V.13 - Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; - at your resurrection.
V.14 - as obedient children, - you see obedience is important - not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance;
V.15 - but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,
V.16 - because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
So we are called to a life of holiness. Through all of Peter’s ups and downs Jesus promised that Peter would be instrumental in even establishing the Church. On the first day of Pentecost, which we read about just a couple of weeks ago, Peter was the main speaker to the crowd in Jerusalem and the Church began with about 3,000 new people right away. Later, Peter healed a man who had been handicapped since birth and now the guy was 40 years old or more. So he performed miracles and he boldly preached before the Sanhedrin which is one of the things that got him in big trouble. It got him beat up.
But even arrests, beatings and threats could not stop Peter’s resolve to now preach about Jesus Christ and Jesus’ own resurrection. And Jesus’ promise that Peter would be foundational in building a Church was fulfilled in at least three ways: Peter preached on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit first came - he preached to the Jews there; Peter was present when the Samaritans first received the Holy Spirit - I think we have that in Acts 8 and finally, Peter was summoned before the Roman Centurion, Cornelius, who also then came to believe and receive the Holy Spirit. That is in Acts 10 . So Peter was intimately part of the gospel message going to the Jews, the Samaritans and the Gentiles. He became quite a pillar in the Church.
Let’s take heart as we think on the life of one of God’s saints. We too are God’s saints as we live by the word of God and are filled by His Spirit and we too, like the apostle Peter can put our failings, short comings and weaknesses behind us and prepare to be sons and daughters in God’s divine family.
Remember this fisherman. Remember the family man, Peter. Remember the humanity of trying to live a new life in Jesus Christ and read these writings of faithfulness that he penned for us to learn from. If we keep our eyes on Jesus Christ, we too can walk on water, spiritually. We can overcome all odds and we too then will receive eternal life as immortal spirit beings in God’s family.
So take this to heart; think about the apostle Peter and make sure that you too are being prepared as part of the bride of Christ.