I apologize to anyone who thinks that we've been too hard on Simon Peter this week. (Grin) I am hopeful that the attention to his character and his behavior will end up making all of us feel inspired -- not bummed out. Because today we will see how Simon changed.....how he became the Peter that Christ knew he could be. And that holds great promise for all of us!
You see, the process of conversion isn't a be-all, end-all. It's just the beginning! God's work in our lives is not completed at the time we accept His mercy and begin a new life. We continue to grow, to mature, and to be "sanctified" as the Bible puts it....and that process doesn't stop until we stop breathing! At least, it doesn't stop unless we get out of step with the Spirit.
This post will be lengthy, but I hope it'll be worthwhile!
Let's dive in!
When we see Peter in the book of Acts, he is quite a different person. He was becoming a pillar of the early church. Look at his first recorded sermon:
This Peter is sober, mature, and showing not only his God-given wisdom, but his knowledge of the scriptures, as well.
In the very next chapter of Acts, Peter gives a powerful sermon that brings thousands to a relationship with Christ!
Acts 3 begins with Peter and John following the example of Christ:
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. (Acts 3:1)Peter was going where the people were -- and beginning that ministry of "feeding the sheep." Shortly after that, Peter and John were arrested, and their testimony was fearless: they were filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:8). The officers saw their boldness and marveled at these men (verse 13).
More evidence of a changed Peter can be seen when Paul took him to task about his aversion to eating a meal with Gentiles -- at least when the men from the church in Jerusalem were present. He apparently took the correction well and changed his attitude about that. (You can read more about it in Galatians.)
I kinda think that Peter must have had the most humbling experience that anyone has ever had . . .he completely understood the significance of having forsaken Jesus, and of having denied him three separate times. The Bible says that he wept "bitterly." Dear Christian study-mate, we have all let Jesus down at times, haven't we? Perhaps they have been less dramatic ways, but they are heart-hurtful, no? So we can at least identify on the outside when Jesus asked Peter three times, "Do you love me?" Each time, Peter answered yes, and each time Jesus told him to feed, tend, feed the sheep and the lambs. What a sobering message that is, for all of us -- but at the same time, it is an uplifting one...there is no need for us to linger in the bitter tears of shame; in Jesus we are forgiven, and for a purpose:
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)After Pentecost, Peter wasn't self-interested any more, either. He showed a Godly humility, and tried to do everything to the glory of God. Look at what he told the amazed crowd after the lame man was healed at the temple:
....By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see." (Acts 3:12,16)He was quick to let them know that this was done by the power and name of Jesus.
Peter also had learned his lessons on humility; we can see this from his letters that we have named I and II Peter....
We'll conclude our study looking at this newer, more humble Peter tomorrow!