Peter is one of my favourite people in the Bible (aside from Jesus of course). Peter is known for speaking his mind and confronting situations head-on. I can very much relate to this. I have gotten myself in trouble a time or two for what had come out of my mouth. In today’s post, we will see how Jesus changed Peter in the Bible.
Even though Peter is so sure of himself and continues to stumble- Jesus still had a plan for Peter and still used him to build the universal Church.
That humbles me.
That regardless of my imperfections, Jesus still has a plan for me and can use me to build His kingdom.
Let’s see how Peter changed over time.
5 Things we learn about Peter
1. Peter was a fisherman
When we first meet Peter he is fishing with his brothers.
Matthew 4:18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.
Jesus was gathering up disciples. He knew who He was looking for and came upon Simon (Peter) and his brother.
These men were simple fishermen and ordinary men. God saw them and called them to follow Him.
I love that God calls ordinary people to follow and obey Him. This proves that we don’t need to have a certain level of education or knowledge to obey God and that God can use simple things and ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
2. Peter witnessed Miraculous things
Once Jesus selected Peter as a disciple, he saw many miraculous things.
Matthew 4: 23-25 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. 24 Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. 25 Great multitudes followed Him—from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan.
Peter would have been witness to people being healed in front of his eyes. He would have seen people full of disease be instantly healed. He would have seen demon-possessed people be overpowered by the power of God and leave people.
Peter had first-hand experience with the power of Jesus. These experiences were teaching Peter who Jesus was and what He could do. These years of ministry were a wonderful training ground for the purpose that Jesus had for Peter.
3. Peter was brave
Matthew 14:22-33 Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. 23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. 24 But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. 25 Now in the fourth watch of the night, Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.” 28 And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29 So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” 31 And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”
You probably are very familiar with this story, but it is one of my favourites. Jesus came to the disciples and walked on water. The disciples did not recognize them but when the disciples found out it was Jesus– Peter was the only one to cry out and say: “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He (Jesus” said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.
Peter was brave enough to ask God to call him out and was even brave enough to get out of that boat when Jesus asked him to come.
I would love to think that if I was on that boat that I would have been like Peter and ask Jesus to tell me to come. But the truth is, I don’t like risk. I sometimes don’t like not knowing what obeying Jesus to come will cost me.
Getting out of my Boat
About 9 years ago, the youth group my husband and I helped run was studying the bible study book called: If you want to walk on water, you have to get out of the boat.
The biggest takeaway for me from that book was relating the boat to my comfort zone and related walking on water to getting out of my comfort zone.
The question that stayed with me was: what is your comfort zone?? Is God calling you out of your comfort zone?
At that time, I knew that my hometown (Ottawa, Ontario) was my comfort zone.
Within a year of finishing that study, God had called my husband and I to move away from Ottawa and go to Edmonton, Alberta (pretty much the other side of the country and much more North).
God had used that study to prepare me to trust Him as He called me out of my comfort Zone. The journey was not easy, but anytime we faltered and were tempted to not believe- God was there to catch us.
What comfort zone are you in??
Do you hear God calling you??
Do you have the faith to step out of your comfort zone??
4. Peter Boldly declares who Jesus is
Matthew 16:13-18 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”
14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.
Jesus spent his ministry on earth training his disciples to preach the gospel once He had ascended to heaven. As any good teacher would do, Jesus asked probing questions to make sure that the disciples understood who He was.
When Jesus asked: Who do you say I am? Only one person answers: That was Peter.
Peter clearly declares that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God.
“This is what Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament (affiliate link, see disclosure policy) says about these verses:
“ The Christ. The Messiah, the Anointed of God. Matthew 11:14.
The Son. That is, the Son by way of eminence, in a peculiar sense. Matthew 1:17. This appellation was understood as implying Divinity, John 10:29-36.
Of the living God. The term living was given to the true God, to distinguish him from idols, that are dead or lifeless blocks and stones. He is also the Source of life-temporal, spiritual, and eternal. The term living is often given to him in the Old Testament, Joshua 3:10, 1 Samuel 17:26,36, Jeremiah 10:9,10 etc.
In this noble confession, Peter expressed the full belief of himself and his brethren that he was the long-expected Messiah. Other men have very different opinions of him, but they were satisfied, and were not ashamed to confess it.”
When reading this passage, the question becomes personal. Who do you (insert your name) say I am?
How would you answer that question?
Can you declare as clearly and boldly who Jesus is?
I know that for me, I know who Jesus is and proclaim Him as my saviour. But, when it comes to sharing the gospel with others– I fall short.
Peter’s declaration convicts me to root my faith in Jesus and to boldly declare who He is.
Related Blog Posts
- 6 People whose lives were transformed when they met God
- Why it is important to know who you are in Christ
- How Does knowing God change me?
- Identity in Christ Blog series
- 7-week bible study. Who am I? Discover who you are in Christ
5. Peter was Self Assured
It’s easy to think about the disciples and believe that they were better than we were. But the bible is clear that we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
That is the case for Peter. Even though he could boldly declare who Jesus was, he often faltered in other areas.
Matthew 26: 31-35 Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” 33 Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” 35 Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And so said all the disciples.
Before Jesus faced the cross, He warned his disciples what was to come. He did not use specific language but figurative language. Here Jesus warns that all the disciples would be made to stumble.
Peter hears this and quickly exclaims that he will not stumble regardless of what other disciples do. Jesus was quick to tell him that Peter would deny Him 3 times.
I have been a chrisitian for a long time. My history sometimes makes me confident in my ability to keep my faith. The thing is, I am rooting my faith in my abilities and not in Christ.
I sometimes take my faith for granted and forget that I could not have faith without God. I also sometimes forget that I need God to have faith because (in my own view) I have been doing such a good job lately.
We all know that pride comes before a fall.
Anytime I have been so sure that I could not stumble- something comes along in my life to remind me how much I need God and that I am a sinner without Him.
Peter was the same. He had grand ideas about how firm his faith and devotion to God was…… only to be proven wrong shortly after.
Are you proud of your faith? What is that pride based in? Do you depend on God for your faith, or on yourself?
Peter Denies Christ
Just a little while after Peter had confidently said that He would never falter– he was tested.
Matthew 26: 69-75 Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.”
70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.”
71 And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
72 But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!”
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.”
74 Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!”
Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.
Jesus had predicted that Peter would deny Him.
We read this account and see that exactly what Jesus had predicted came true.
Peter was asked 3 times if he knew Jesus or was part of Jesus’ circle. Each time he was asked, Peter denied knowing Jesus.
Then Peter heard the rooster crow. At that moment he realized what he had done and left and wept bitterly.
As christians, there are times in our life when we may be tempted or we do actually deny Christ.
I would love to say that no matter what happened to me, I would never waiver……… But the truth is, I don’t know.
I always admire all the martyrs for Jesus. They were not afraid of death and declared Jesus even while facing cruel ends.
What about you? What do you think you would do in Peter’s shoes??
How Jesus Changed Peter in the Bible
In the previous part of this post, I shared some of the things we know about Peter. We learned that even though Peter could declare who Jesus was and was brave, that He was self-assured and ended up denying Christ.
When I read these passages about Peter, I see a man who deeply loves Jesus but is not full of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit had not come yet and Peter was doing his best to love Jesus without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
I can hardly hold on with the help of The Holy Spirit. I hate to think about what my relationship with God would be without the Holy Spirit.
Thankfully, where we left off in the story of Peter is not the end. Let’s keep going and see what happens to Peter after Jesus is crucified and resurrected.
A relationship is restored
We know Peter denied Christ on the night of his trial. I’m sure Peter felt crushed about his actions. Watching Jesus die, he probably thought that it was too late to ask Jesus for forgiveness or gain back the relationship he had with Jesus before the denial.
But, Jesus had other plans.
John 21:15-16 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”
He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”
16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”
He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”
Jesus specifically seeks out Peter and asks him 3 times if Peter loves him. Each time, Peter answers Yes, I love you.
This portion of the bible is so precious to me.
Jesus did not leave Peter even though Peter left Jesus.
Jesus gave Peter 3 opportunities to declare his love for Him.
Each of these times corresponds with one of Peter’s denials. It’s almost like one declaration of love erases one denial.
Jesus is in the business of restoring us to Him.
When we fall, trip, mess up— whatever– He is always there waiting for us. His death makes it possible for each of our sins to be washed away.
The bible has many verses about the cleansing of our sins through Christ. The verse below is one of my favourites.
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He (Jesus) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
No matter how many sins we have committed, once we ask for forgiveness we are cleansed from our unrighteousness. The cross washes away our sin.
Jesus knows we will fall and that sometimes we will fail. BUT!!!! He is waiting for us to come to Him.
When we ask for forgiveness, it restores our relationship with Christ.
Do you have sin that you need to ask forgiveness for? If so, what is keeping you from seeking forgiveness??
There is no sin too small or too large. Christ has already paid the price for our sins. He is waiting for you. Will you come?
Peter became the man God intended
Once the disciples were filled with the holy spirit, they started doing the work that Jesus had told them to do.
Matthew 28:19-20 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Earlier in this post, I mentioned Jesus had a plan for Peter.
Jesus was going to use Peter to build the Christian Church. (Matthew 16:18)
If you continue to read the book of Acts and the Books that Peter wrote himself, we see that Peter does exactly what He had planned.
Peter becomes a pillar of the church.
Acts 2:37-39 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
Peter was no longer afraid or full of guilt. He had restored his relationship with Jesus and was full of the Holy Spirit. Because of this, Peter could accomplish God’s will for his life.
Peter is a fascinating character.
Before being filled with the Holy Spirit we see Peter was a simple fisherman who struggled with self-assurance and even denied Christ. He depended on his abilities and on his own strength.
But, after the crucifixion and now being filled with the Spirit, Peter puts all his efforts into accomplishing what God had given him to do. We see Peter can boldly share the gospel and has newfound confidence. But this time, his confidence is not in himself, but confidence in Christ and dependence on the Holy Spirit.
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit completely changes Peter’s work from fishing for food to fishing men.
When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, God can give us a path that is so much more fulfilling than a 9-5 job. It’s not to say that we all need to quit our day jobs, but we do need to remember that each and every Christian is called to share their faith and glorify God.
What about you?
Do you hear God calling you to do something?
Are you willing to step out in faith and obey God’s call?
Who do you depend on?
In the comments below, share which part of Peter’s character do you identify with most.
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