Peter is often seen as the most hot-headed, impulsive and unstable of all the disciples. Yet, he was chosen to lead the church, with Jesus declaring in Matthew 16:18 “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church…”
What did Jesus find in this simple fisherman that we fail to see? What qualities did he poses that drew the favour of God and Ire of man? In addition, what can we learn from him today? Here are a few observations,
A Man Of Humility
As we read in the book of Luke, “…[Peter] got down at the feet of Jesus…”(Luke 5:8), Peter has a deep sense of self-awareness and a deeper sense of who Jesus is. This knowledge brings about the only reaction any of us can have toward a holy God, to fall at His feet.
His response becomes noteworthy when we realise that Peter could have been a very wealthy man, as he owned nets and boats. For a man of his stature to humble himself publicly and to follow Jesus immediately shows his humility.
It is also worth remembering that John Mark, a disciple of Peter, authored the Gospel of Mark. Even though Peter had a big influence in writing it, he did not omit his own faults. Instead, we see Peter being rebuked by Jesus (Mark 8:33) and that he speaks even though he did not know what to say (Mark 9:6). He is portrayed along with his mistakes.
Furthermore, historical records show how Peter was crucified upside-down. This was because he told his captors that he was not worthy to be crucified as his master was. The humility and passion that God gives birth to in us will last a long time, even when we face the direst of times.
It does not matter where we are placed in the social structure, we need to share the same response as Peter had when we come across the Master. For when we fall at His feet, we are lifting Him up.
A Man With A Message
Peter preaches a very engaging sermon in Acts 2, which is considered by many to be the gold standard of evangelistic preaching. As he had a very good command over the Greek language, he made a passionate plea with several Old Testament references. This also shows us that he was a devout man who knows the scriptures well.
He starts his sermon by referring to the prophecies in the book of Joel and how they were being fulfilled. He then goes on to talk about Jesus and His suffering, His death and resurrection, with references to the Psalms of David.
He achieves all this while preserving the sovereignty of God – His omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience. The book of Acts tells us that they were cut to the heart and about 3,000 people joined the church that day. God worked in their hearts and brought about a big harvest that day.
We continue to see him as ‘a man with a message’ when he writes his letters to the gentile Christians. Hope, encouragement, and a deep sense of conviction are the hallmarks of his letters. He calls on the readers to live a life of holiness and surrender. He continues to lift Jesus up as he strives to bring hope through his writings.
We need to be as Peter was, a carrier of the message of hope, encouragement, and healing. May we learn to wait more on God as Peter and all the others did (Acts 2:1).
A Man Of Courage
It is also worth remembering that Peter and Judas betrayed Jesus in different ways. However, Peter responds very differently as he turns the painful realisation of his sins into conviction. Unlike Judas, Peter allows the brokenness and pain of his mistakes to learn from them and become a better person.
This deep courage that Peter possesses helps him face his inner demons and come out stronger. How often do we feel weak when we realise our wrongdoings?
No one is past the point of forgiveness. Remembering that our God is merciful and forgiving, brings us back to Him with a repentant heart. Let us learn to see His love for us and we will be strengthened, just as Peter was.
A Man Of Loyalty
We read in Acts 4:1-23, that Peter and John were ordered by the rulers and Jewish leaders to stop preaching about Jesus. Peter responds by saying, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”(Acts 4:19,20).
We often hear of the time Peter denied Jesus thrice. However, here we see a different side of Peter. His surefooted, unambiguous reply hides within it, a loyal heart that is not willing to compromise with the truth. The courage born out of his love for Jesus shocks all the rulers who heard it, “And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.”(v.13)
The question has to be asked, if we were in Peter’s position what would we have said? Do people see that we have been with Jesus? Do our words and actions bring glory to God?
As we ponder on that thought, let us reflect on what Billy Graham once said about Peter – “Peter was not a perfect man, but he was a faithful one. His courage, loyalty, and devotion to Jesus Christ inspire us to this day.”
The positive qualities he possesses far outweigh the frequent negatives we hear about him. These four traits are only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ of this complex personality. May this encourage you to start seeing people the way God sees them and be carriers of encouragement and hope in a broken world.
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