For the next 12 posts I am going to highlight the first 12 disciples of Jesus, my Savior, and what I learn from them presently. Entire
books shelves of books could be filled with writings on each disciple so if you want thorough study there are many resources including your own Bible. But I hope as I highlight what currently each disciple teaches me it will encourage you as well.
First we go to Simon Peter, also known as Cephas (meaning Rock). Peter is one of the more famous disciples and became an apostle, appointed to oversee the Church. Peter was a Jewish fisherman with a business in Bethsaida. Through Scripture we know that Peter was married. Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law living in Capernaum (Matthew 8:14-17).
Jesus actually named him Peter which some think means He ‘ordained’ or blessed him, while others take it literally. But Peter’s brother Andrew was actually the first to follow Jesus, becoming the first disciple, and told his brother Peter that the Messiah was here.
The story then continues to when Jesus met Peter:
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him. (Matthew 4:18-20)
Peter continues on with Jesus – being one of the few who saw the Transfiguration, the one who walked on water with Jesus, joining Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, being asked by Jesus ‘Do you love me?’ and being told to feed the sheep, being the one on whom Christ built the church, denying Jesus before the Crucifixion, seeing the empty grave upon Jesus’ resurrection, and preaching and healing among the multitudes after Jesus ascends.
Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit in the upper room during a prayer meeting and worked miracles just as His Savior did. Many came to believe in Jesus because of Peter’s preaching and ministry. Peter and John are the disciples who healed the crippled man saying, “Silver and gold I just don’t have, but what I have I give to you. Rise up and walk.”
Another great story about Peter is his escape from prison with the help of an angel of the Lord recorded in Acts 12.
Peter shows me that a married, family man is just as useable by the Lord as a single man. His dedication and passion for Jesus inspires me to be a man that isn’t shy of His relationship with Christ, not timid or cool, but intensely in love with the Messiah. Peter was so imperfect. From history we learn that Peter was prone to cursing, having a temper, and being pretty rough-around-the-edges. From the Bible we know that he didn’t have the courage to admit his discipleship while Jesus was being beaten. He was the one who cut off the ear of a soldier while Jesus was being arrested. Yet this imperfect man put down his nets to follow Jesus, not just to the cross, but all the way to the end of his life, his own crucifixion. Peter is said to have been crucified upside down, at his own request, instead of in the same direction as His Lord. He was flayed and died faithfully following Jesus even to martyrdom.
I don’t wish to be crucified or to be killed for my faith and love for Jesus. But for each of us persecution comes in different ways and Peter teaches me not just to endure, but to continually put Jesus at the forefront of my life. Peter’s ministry wasn’t called Simon Peter’s International Ministries & Evangelistic Outreach and tax exempt (not that there is anything particularly wrong about that kind of ministry). His ministry was not to organize the Catholic church. Peter’s ministry was his life!! His whole life, and even his death. Ministry to Peter wasn’t incredibly organized; it was simply spending every day following Jesus. I don’t have to have a non-profit organization to have a ministry. My life should be ministry for Jesus. Every day should be spent following Him. And though I am imperfect and stubborn and hung-up on my own weaknesses I am called into the Kingdom and Jesus is my Lord and Savior so I have every reason to live for Him. If my selfishness gets in the way today, I’ll repent and continue on – following Jesus till the end of my life, and seeing Him face to face in heaven.
Catholics and others may call Peter a Saint. Some know of him as the first Apostle. I call him a fellow disciple as lovers of our Savior – Jesus, the Risen King.
To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. (1 Peter 1:1-12)