And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it (Matthew 16:18 NIV).
Simon Peter, one of Jesus' twelve disciples, tops my list of outstanding Bible characters. God transformed this ordinary fisherman into a powerful leader of the early church. The folly and humanness of his early Christian life make him a saint that is relatable to us, and we can learn from him.
Simon Peter was a man of contradictions. He was outspoken and impulsive but also humble (Luke 5:1-8) and loyal (John 6:66-68). If something needed to be said, he said it but was quick to blurt out words before thinking. A man of faith, he was both courageous and fearful. On one occasion the disciples were out in a boat in stormy weather. Peter stepped out of the boat and walked on the water to go to Jesus (Matthew 14:22-29).
But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt" (Matthew 14:30-31 NIV).
The evening before Jesus’ death, Peter declared that he would never deny Him, even if it meant dying with Him (Mark 14:31). But Jesus knew what he would do.
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times” (Mark 14:30 NIV).
After Jesus’ arrest, Peter followed Him at a distance into the high priest's courtyard (Mark 14:54). While he was in the courtyard below, keeping himself warm at the fire, a servant girl of the high priest came and looked at him closely and said, “You were with the Nazarene, Jesus." But Peter denied it and went out into the gateway, and a rooster crowed. The servant girl saw him there and said to those standing around, “This man is one of them.” But Peter denied it a second time. Yet again, the people who were standing nearby said to him, “You are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” Peter denied Jesus a third time, and immediately the rooster crowed again. He remembered Jesus’ words that he would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed twice. Peter recognized his failure and broke down and wept (Mark 14:66-72).
Peter’s life did not end in failure. Jesus loved him, forgave him, and restored him. On the day of Pentecost, he preached boldly, and three thousand people were converted (Acts 2:14-41). The simple fisherman became a mighty fisher of men. Persecution followed, but Peter rejoiced that he was counted worthy to suffer for Christ’s sake.
Heavenly Father, transform our lives to be more and more like Jesus. In Jesus’ name. Amen.