PETER

No set of eyes ever pierced another soul so deeply. Peter had just denied his Lord with words marred with cursing and swearing, saying, “I know not the man” (Matt. 26:74). Immediately, while he was still speaking, “the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter and Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny Me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:61-62). How alone the Lord must have been (Is. 53:3,11; Psalm 22:1) and how guilty Peter must have felt. One glance from those eyes, eyes that were sometimes like flames of fire, conveyed more than we can ever know (Rev. 1:14,17).

Peter was a fisherman by trade, along with his brother Andrew (Matt. 4:18). They probably followed in the occupation of their father, Jonas, though we know nothing about him directly (Matt. 16:18). Peter owned at least one ship, himself (Luke 5:4), and was in a business partnership with James and John (Luke 5:7,10). He was a married man (Mark 1:30; I Cor. 9:5), though we have no record of any children born to him. Again, along with his brother Andrew, Peter owned a home in Capernaum (Luke 4:38; Mark 1:29), though his hometown was apparently Bethsaida (John 1:44). It is believed that the ruins of Peter’s house can still be found in Capernaum. He and his wife, his mother-in-law and Andrew lived in this place and Jesus was there often.

The Barjona family must have been somewhat religiously inclined. Though a fisherman by trade, Andrew had been a disciple of John the Baptist (John 1:35, 37,40). When Andrew had heard John speak regarding Jesus as the Lamb of God, he, along with another disciple, probably John, followed Jesus and spent the rest of the day with Him (John 1:39). Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a full day of conversation with the Lord and wouldn’t it be nice to know what they discussed then? One cannot but help believe that Andrew and John spoke of this conversation with Jesus with their respective brothers, Simon and James.

Indeed, after his day with the Lord, the first task of Andrew was to find his brother, Simon, and bring Him to Jesus and introduce Jesus to him as the Messiah (John 1:38-40). When Jesus later saw Simon and Andrew working, He called them and they “straightway left their nets and followed Him” (Matt. 4:18,19). They not only left their nets but they left all and followed Him (Mark 10:28). Their previous encounter with Jesus no doubt prepared them for this call. After this time, nothing was ever the same for Simon.

After Jesus’ rejection in Nazareth, He came into Capernaum and Simon heard Him teach with power on the Sabbath days (Luke 4:31,32), and perform wondrous miracles (Luke 4:33-37), including healing his wife’s mother from a great fever (Luke 4:38-41). On one of those occasions when Jesus was teaching, He entered into Simon’s boat (Luke 5:3). When the teaching ended, Jesus instructed him to “Launch into the deep” and let down his nets. After protesting, Simon was then so astonished and overwhelmed by the great catch of fish miraculously produced, that he fell to his knees before Jesus and proclaimed his own sinfulness before the holy Son of God (Luke 5:4-8).

On another occasion, sometime between three and six in the morning, the waves of the Sea of Galilee were being whipped up by stormy winds, tossing around a small boat (Matt. 14:24). The apostles, at Jesus’ command, had taken this boat to get to the other side of the sea (Matt. 14:22). But during the darkness of the night Peter, in the ship with the other apostles, saw Jesus coming to them, walking on the sea (Matt. 14:24,25)! Walking on the sea! Peter impetuously requested to walk to Jesus on the storm-tossed sea and as long as he kept his eyes on the Lord, he, too, walked on the water (Matt. 14:29). But when the sea-water and the wind hit him in the face, and he took his eyes off of the Lord, he began to sink, only to be saved by the Lord and rebuked for his lack of faith (Matt. 14:30,31).

When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, and asked His apostles who people were saying that He was, they reported the popular views that He was John, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets come back to life (Matt. 16:13,14). But when Jesus asked the more personal question “But whom do ye say that I am?” only Peter responded. “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Not that the other apostles did not believe the same, but only Peter was bold enough to give it voice at that moment. His response showed the spiritual heights to which Peter could rise.

And yet, Peter could also wildly miss the mark. After bringing them to the point of acknowledging His deity, Jesus then began to reveal to them that He must suffer (Matt. 16:21). But Peter, in tempting the Lord not to go through these trials, was being used as a tool of satan and the Lord rebuked him for it just as He had praised him for his previous confession (Matt. 16:22,23). Then, shortly after this, during the Transfiguration, Peter would place on the same level as Jesus both Moses and Elijah only to be rebuked by the voice of God from Heaven commanding obedience to Christ alone (Matt. 17:1-5).

Peter was again greatly missing the mark. He had followed the Lord after His arrest and into His trial. Only shortly before he had confidently affirmed that, though all men should be offended, he would never be offended because of Jesus (Matt. 26:33). But now, under the real possibility of capital punishment, and when it seemed everything had gone wrong, he was cursing and swearing that he did not know “the Man,” and would not so much as mention His name (Matt. 26:72). Then, in one of the most powerful moments recorded in scripture, “the Lord turned and looked upon Peter” and Peter’s courage completely left him. He swiftly fled and found a place to weep bitterly (Luke 22:62).

A lesser, weaker man, might have taken the easy way out and taken his own life (Matt. 27:1-5). But Peter, though full of human imperfections, was not weak. He cried his heart out, he entertained doubts (Mark 16:14), he wanted to go back to his old trade, until the Lord proved His resurrection by His appearance (Luke 24:34; I Cor. 15:). He faced his mistakes.  Then a little over a month later, Peter stood in the public square in the very heart of Jerusalem, when it was full of more people than at any other time of the year, and unashamedly and unafraid proudly proclaimed the resurrected Lord (Acts 2).

The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good (Proverbs 15:3).

Eric L. Padgett

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