One day in a classroom a teacher was teaching a lesson and she had a conversation with one of her students and it went like this…
TEACHER: Do you see the trees outside?
TEACHER: Do you see the grass outside?
As a class they went outside
TEACHER: Look up and see if you can see the sky.
STUDENT: Yes, I see the sky.
TEACHER: Do you see God?
TEACHER: So if we can't see God then he must not be there. He simply doesn't exist.
A little girl then speaks up and wants to ask the boy some questions. The teacher agreed and the little girl questioned the boy.
LITTLE GIRL: Do you see the trees outside?
LITTLE GIRL: Do you see the grass outside?
STUDENT: Yessssss (getting tired of the questions this time).
LITTLE GIRL: Do you see the sky?
LITTLE GIRL: Do you see the teacher?
LITTLE GIRL: Do you see the teacher's brain?
LITTLE GIRL: Then according to our teacher’s logic she must not have one!
This joke may make you laugh, but the logic behind it is not so humorous. There are certainly people who think this way when it comes to belief in God. They believe since God is not tangible or visible then he cannot exist. As the story the story suggests this is not very good reasoning.
Now, my point for today is not to “prove” the existence of God. Instead, we will go a different route as we will look at faith and specifically at a man who had a very close relationship with Jesus; he was one of the twelve Disciples and his faith was shaken as he encountered the risen Christ and this forever changed his understanding of what faith is and who Jesus is..
Thomas was one of the twelve disciples. He is listed in the names of the twelve disciples in all three synoptic Gospels and there are three accounts where he is mentioned in the Gospel of John. He is mentioned as Thomas the twin or Didymus which means twin in Greek.
Thomas is known for various characteristics in the Gospel of John.
Can you imagine how Thomas felt after this encounter? His response says it all. I am sure you have (or maybe are currently) had a time in life where you doubted God. Maybe you doubted his existence, maybe you doubted that he was going to come through for you in a certain situation or maybe you just wondered, “Why me Lord? Don’t you care about me?” Here are three observations when we encounter Jesus that may strengthen our faith in times of doubt.
So, what can we learn from this ordinary rebel named Thomas?
You may be thinking, “Well, it’s so much easier to trust something that you can see. I can’t see God, so how can I know beyond a shadow of doubt that He is actually there?” Answer, you can’t. That’s why it’s called faith. Can you see air or oxygen you breathe with the naked eye? I can’t, but I know it’s there, I feel the effects of it. We all had faith that when we walked into this building that there would be oxygen to breathe, correct? This is faith! I can’t see God, but I know He is there because I feel the effects of Him in my life and I see the wonder of His creation around me and then I KNOW He is real. Faith is something that cannot be proven otherwise it couldn’t be called faith. In this closing remark to Thomas Jesus is speaking of you and me. We are truly blessed.
[i] Carson, D.A. (1991) The Gospel of John p. 659 Grand Rapids, MI: William Eerdmans Publishing Company
1 Corinthians 1:20 – 30 says. “So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength. Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God. God has united you with Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made him to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; he made us pure and holy, and he freed us from sin. Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.”
Vs 21: Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.
This passage is a great reminder of how God uses whomever he pleases, regardless of education, financial status, social status, or intellect to accomplish his will and purposes. We have seen this time and again in our current series titled “Ordinary Rebels”. We have seen how God used an ordinary virgin teenage girl to be the mother of the Savior, some fishermen, a tax collector, and zealots to turn the world upside down for his kingdom. Today we will look briefly at two men that we know literally nothing about but in the few verses we do have about them we can God’s bigger picture his plan for his people.
James, the Son of Alphaeus
Why would anyone consider preaching part of a message about a man who is mentioned in the Bible four-times and every time he is mentioned it is in the list of the names of the Apostles? Funny, I asked myself that same question. So, here it goes…
James was a very common name. In the N.T. alone there are several men named James who are associated with Jesus. There is James, the son of Zebedee (more about him in later messages). James, Jesus’ half-brother and author of the Epistle James and eventual leader in the church of Jerusalem. The James we will talk briefly about today is known as James the son of Alphaeus and that is pretty much all we know about him. However, this title does tell us one interesting fact, James was most likely the brother of Levi/Matthew the tax collector (Mark 2:14). There is also speculation that James was also a member of the zealot group (who we learned about last week) and that would be interesting then if Matthew (the tax collector) was his brother. This would have certainly been a problem for the brothers since zealots considered tax collectors traitors and would have been natural enemies. I am just throwing it out there for informational purposes.
That’s pretty much all we know about James the son of Alphaeus.
Thaddeus is known by early church fathers as Thaddeus Trinomius, which means “Man with three names”. In Mark he is called Thaddeus (Mark 3:18), in Matthew he is called Labbaeus (Matthew 10:30) and Judas the brother of James (Luke 6:16, Acts 1:13). This last name is significant because it most likely identifies him as the Apostle who asks Jesus in John 14:22, “Lord, why are you going to reveal yourself only to us and not to the world at large?” And I would like to spend the remainder of our time looking at this passage and what it means for us today.
John 14:22 - 31
Verse 22: Judas (Thaddeus) is perplexed by Jesus’ talk about the Helper and how he is manifesting himself to the disciples (Jesus introduces the “Helper” Holy Spirit in the first part of John 14). Thaddeus wonders how Jesus will be able to make himself known and seen only to his disciples and not to the world? He may have thought that Jesus was referring to him returning as the victorious conquering Messiah to Israel which they knew would be a very public display.
Scripture tells us that Jesus will indeed return and manifest himself to the whole world as the victorious Messiah at his Second Coming. We are told everyone will bend the knee before him as Lord and Savior. However, this is not the manifestation Jesus is speaking about. He tells his disciples that he will come back to them after his death, and he will manifest himself to them. He will physically return to the disciples after his death in his resurrected body. We see this in many accounts in both the Gospels and Acts.
Verse 23: Jesus says love and obedience go hand in hand. He says, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.” Here we see that obedience is the outward expression of true love for Jesus. Jesus says, “If you love me, you will…
Verse 24: Disobedience, on the other hand, is the evidence of unbelief and rebellion towards God. A person who has rejected Jesus is obviously not in love with Him. One who is disobedient will…
Verse 25 - 26: These are important words Jesus wants his followers to hear. He speaks to them while he is still here on earth.
However, the time is drawing near for his departure, and he will not be around much longer to teach and remind his followers of the words he has spoken. Thus, the Father will send The Helper, the Holy Spirit, to teach them all they need to know and remind them of his words. When Jesus and the Father dwell in the believer through the Holy Spirit the believer will then be guided by the Spirit. He will become the teacher, He will be the one to bring to remembrance the words Jesus Spoke, and He will guide them in all truth.
Jesus gives these words of comfort to the disciples because when he leaves this world the disciples will be left on earth to be Christ’s representatives. The world is usually depicted as hostile towards God. The world represents the created order and the people who live in it and many of whom have rebelled against God and have no cares or concerns about God and His Kingdom. While still on earth the disciples (and believers throughout history for that matter) will depend on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God. The Spirit will be in the believer to help, comfort, exhort, encourage, and empower him as they (we) dwell here on earth to be true representatives for Jesus Christ. The Spirit is given for our benefit and God’s glory.
Verse 27: The next promise given is peace. Peace (shalom) – The peace Jesus speaks of has a deeper meaning than what we have come to know peace in modern history. We generally think of peace as the absence of conflict, but this is the unstable peace the world has to offer. Those of you who lived in the 60s and early 70s are aware of the temporal and faux peace the world promoted. There was a movement of peace, love, and happiness but everything about the peace (and love and happiness for that matter) was temporary, selfish, and disingenuous.
The shalom Jesus speaks of is a peace that surpasses all understanding and is rooted in salvation. It is an inward peace; a peace of mind and a security in knowing your future destiny. It’s a peace that comes when you know you have been forgiven of your sins, where you can lean on the promise of the indwelling of the Spirit, in knowing you are redeemed and will be restored, and in having security in knowing whether in danger or safety you are in the arms of the Father.
Jesus not only leaves us peace, but he gives us His peace. He tells his us that we are to take comfort in this. To the disciples he tells them not to let their hearts be troubled or afraid. There will be tumultuous times ahead because after his death their persecution will increase. So he tells them to take hold of that peace and let it reign in your hearts.
Today we have this same promise given to us. Jesus has left us with and given us his peace that is far greater than the artificial peace of the world. We are still living in tumultuous times… The future is uncertain. We are reminded that we do not have complete control over all things… In fact, we have very little control in our lives… Yet we should not allow our hearts to be troubled, nor be afraid. We are to rest in the peace that Jesus has left and given us. As followers of Jesus, we can know true (shalom) even amid uncertainty, persecution, and turmoil.
Verse 28: Jesus re-assures and reminds his disciples that he is leaving. If the disciples truly understood what this meant, then they would be rejoicing with him. If they knew the reality of what Jesus was going to accomplish, then they would be behind him 100%. In his death and resurrection Jesus is beginning the restoration process and He is going back to the Father, and this is cause for celebration, not sadness.
Verse 29: He tells the disciples this beforehand so when the time of his crucifixion comes and when he is raised from the dead their faith would remain strong. I am sure there were times of doubt among the disciples as Jesus hung on the cross and now, he tells them, “Remember what I am doing and why I am doing it and let this strengthen your faith.”
Verse 30, 31: The ruler of this world could refer to Caesar but also refers to the one who is behind all acts of evil... Satan. Jesus assures this ruler has no claim on him. Satan is the accuser, and he has nothing on Jesus. His plan is to try and destroy the works of God but cannot succeed.
Just as the believer shows love to Jesus through faithful obedience, Jesus shows love to the Father through faithful obedience. God has called Jesus to the cross of Calvary, and He goes voluntarily and obediently because he loves the Father. His obedience (even obedience to the cross) will speak volumes of his love for the Father.
As we conclude today, we have a lot to be reminded of and promises to hold on to.
When we read the Bible, it is apparent that God is unique in so many ways but especially in who He calls to do his work here on earth. One of my favorite Bible passages is 1 Corinthians 1:20 – 29 (read). This is a great passage to show God uses whomever he pleases to accomplish his will and purposes.
For example, He makes a promise and a covenant with an ordinary gentile man from a place called Ur to become the chosen Father of a great nation. He empowers a murdering adopted Egyptian Prince to free the Hebrews from a miserable existence and life of hard slavery. He uses a prostitute living in the walls of Jericho to assist Israelite spies to overthrow the city. He commissions a shepherd boy and adulterer to become one of the greatest kings in Israel’s history. He sends a defiant, rebellious, and racist man (with the assistance of a whale) to bring an evil city to repentance. He uses a baby with no earthly father and a teenage virgin mother to be the savior of the world. He grabs hold of a Christian murdering Pharisee to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles and ending up writing 2/3’s of the New Testament. These are only a few of the people God used for his plan.
I honestly cannot think of a single affluent or “qualified” individual that God called to ministry. Everyone was either not qualified or disqualified for ministry, yet God still used these men and women. This has always been encouraging for me since I often feel overwhelmed and unqualified to do the work God has called me to. It is humbling to know God chooses you and me to do great things for his glory. We may at times feel insignificant or less than worthy and we may feel like the Psalmist who writes, “What is man that you are mindful of him…” Or maybe you are like me and often ask this question, “Why God did you choose me to be your child and how are you planning on using me for your greater purpose and plan?”
Today we are continuing our series titled “Ordinary Rebels” and we will look at two individuals today Matthew the tax collector and Simon the zealot. These two were men that many would never even consider God could or ever use because of their profession and affiliations. Both were feared and despised by the masses, but regardless of who they were these ordinary men were called by Jesus to be disciples. With one he was a hated individual among Jews, but God used him to be a vessel and a voice to carry the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all nations. The other… well we don’t know much about him except he was probably an insurrectionist affiliated with a terrorist group. Let’s begin with the taxman…
Watch: Corner Gas: Taxman Video
The Tax Collector
Not much has changed in 2,000 years… tax collectors were not and still are not well-liked or respected individuals. In fact, they were despised by Jewish society specifically because they worked for the Roman government. They wereknown as publicans and their job was to charge tolls and taxes on behalf of the Roman government. They were private government subcontractors who would tax travelers carrying merchandise between locations or delivering goods along certain well-known roads. Rome would hire local individuals who were familiar with an area's occupants, properties, and roadways so they could be more effective in collecting taxes. Some tax collectors were responsible for large areas, and they would hire employees to collect the taxes. It is likely Zacchaeus fit this category, as he is designated as a “chief” tax collector.
Tax collectors made their living by demanding or extorting higher taxes from the locals than they had originally prepaid to the Roman government. Not surprisingly this flawed system led to widespread greed and exploitation. This profession was flooded with corrupt people who overtaxed others to increase their personal gain and profits.
There are about 20 references to tax collectors in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) and they all refer to or are connected to sinners.
Matthew (A.K.A. – Levi)
The disciple Matthew was a tax collector called by Jesus Christ (Matthew 9:9). He was also known as Levi the tax collector (Luke 5:27).
Now, we read in Marks Gospel that there were among Jesus’ followers many tax collectors and sinners (Mark 2:14 – 15). Jesus was highly criticized for his association with tax collectors and sinners. But in this account Jesus not only associates with tax collectors but he calls one, in particular, Matthew to follow Him as a disciple. In response to the criticism he faced Jesus informs the religious leaders it is not the healthy who need healing, but the sick (Mark 2:16 – 17). When Jesus called Matthew he rose and immediately followed him and leaving his life behind to follow the savior.
We do not know much more about Matthew. We can make some strong assumptions about him.
A common interpretation of the title “Zealot” credited to Simon is that before he became a disciple of Jesus, he was a member of or affiliated with the radical Jewish group called the Zealots. Zealots were a politically minded group who hated the Romans. Their one and only goal was to overthrow the Roman government and their occupation of Israel. They would use guerrilla and covert acts of violence and terror. The zealots, like the Pharisees, interpreted the law literally and they believed only God had the right to rule over the Jewish nation. Thus, they believed they were doing God’s work when they assassinated and killed Roman leaders, soldiers, and anyone who worked with the Romans (including tax collectors). This is one of the groups who firmly believed the Messiah would come and lead them in conquering the Romans and reestablishing Israel to its former glory.
In A.D. 6 it is believed a group of zealots under the leadership of Judas the Galilean waged a violent revolt against a Roman tax census. These zealots believed firmly that paying honor to any pagan king was an act of sedition against God. This group of zealots carried out terroristic warfare against the Romans, but not soon after it began Rome flattened the uprising and killed Judas causing the zealot party to go underground.
Simon the Zealot
The second ordinary rebel is a man we know ever less about, he is named Simon “the Zealot”. Really all we know about Simon is that he is one of twelve disciples (Matt 10:4; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15) and we assume he was once part of this zealot group I mentioned earlier.
Simon is given the title of “Cananaean”, and some have misinterpreted this as Simon the Canaanite. It is believed and widely held by biblical scholars that the interpretation of the word Cananaean should be translated as “the zealous one”. Luke gives him the title “Zealot” both in his Gospel and in the book of Acts
Both titles, “Cananaean” and “Zealot”, point to the idea that he is referred as both to distinguish between he and the other apostle, Simon Peter.
Interestingly as soon as we are introduced to Simon, we no longer hear about him. What little we do know comes from extrabiblical historical sources and traditions. One source Passion of Simon and Jude, Simon the Zealot is recorded as traveling and preaching as far as Egypt, Persia, and various parts of the Near East and is believed to have been martyred in Persia (James, Apocryphal New Testament, 528–29). Perhaps due to this work, in some church traditions Simon became closely identified with the Apostle Jude
Other sources believe that after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Simon headed to the British Isles and preached the Gospel and was eventually martyred. We are not sure what became of him, but many accounts say point to the belief he was killed for preaching the gospel.
It is interesting to note that Simon and Matthew, who were at complete opposite ends of the political spectrum, became spiritual brothers in Christ. Matthew, a man working for the man (Rome) was called to follow Jesus and a man who, at one point in his life would have had no issue at all killing the tax collector was working by his side and for the same cause of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
So, what is our takeaway for today? What can we learn from these two ambiguous disciples that Jesus calls to become his followers?
 Bashaw, J. G. (2016). Matthew the Apostle. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
 Lowe, J. T. (2016). Simon the Zealot. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
I have always believed with all the disciples of Jesus Christ I could most identify with is Peter. I can relate to him simply because he not only was an ordinary man called to ministry, but he was a man who often did some extraordinary things and then in the next moment did something and messed up so badly or said some bone-headed thing that he received a rebuke or chastisement. Yeah, I can relate.
Today we are going to look at the life of the Apostle Peter as we continue our series Ordinary Rebels. We will look at the many aspects of Peters life that made him one of the most memorable, in my opinion, of all the disciples and Apostles. We will look at where he came from, his call to ministry, his successes, his failures, and his influence in the Church and Christianity in general.
Peter the man
Let us begin with looking at Peter the man. He was born in a fishing village in Galilee named Bethsaida. His given birth name was Simon Bar Jonah, which means Simon son of John. He is also known as Cephas or Petros (Rock) He was the brother of Andrew who was a disciple of John the Baptist and he is the one who introduced Peter to Jesus. He and his brother were fishermen by trade and according to Mark 1:29-31 he was married. We are told when Jesus came to Peter’s home (which some have suggested Jesus lived with him) Peter’s mother-in-law was sick and Jesus healed her. “And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.” We are also told in 1 Corinthians 9:5 that Peter’s wife accompanied him on multiple mission trips. “Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?” Extrabiblical traditions speak of him having children and that he was present when his wife was martyred.
Peter’s Conversion & Call
Simon/Peter comes to faith in Christ when his brother Andrew introduces Him to Jesus. (Read John 1:42) In his encounter with Jesus, he calls him, to come and follow and become one of his disciples and immediately they left everything and followed him. In his meeting with Simon Jesus changes his name to Cephas (Petros, Peter or rock). This is significant because from the moment Jesus meets and calls Peter, he has a plan for his life. Fast forward to the Gospel of Matthew 16 and Jesus is talking to his disciples and asks them, “Who do people say I am?” they replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” Then he asks more specifically, “Who do you say I am?” to which Peter responds, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God.” We read Jesus’ response in verse 17, “And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” This is God’s plan and purpose for Peter, he will become the foundation of the Church that Jesus will establish through him, and the gates of hell cannot and will not prevail against this foundation.
Peter the Zealot
Now, one would think that since Peter is Jesus’ chosen guy for establishing His Church that he chose him because he was a man who was self-controlled, bold in his faith, and confident in who he was in Christ. This was not the case. He had some issues with his self-control. I often think of Peter as a person who was more of a “Ready, fire, aim” than he was a “Ready, aim, fire” kind of person. There were times when Peter’s enthusiasm or zeal for the Lord was so hot that he did some outrageous things. One example is in Matthew 26:47 – 56 Jesus is betrayed by Judas and a crowd of people from the chief priests and elders came with swords and clubs. When the crowd proceeded to take Jesus into custody Peter lashes out and cuts of the ear of the servant of the high priest. Jesus rebukes Peter and says, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.
Peter in his zeal for the Lord reacts out of instinct to protect the Savior, who does not need protecting. In his lack of self-control, he does not respond in a manner that is becoming of a follower of Christ and injures someone because of this lack of control. After Jesus rebukes him, the disciples flee out of fear.
How can we forget the fact that Peter walked on water??? (Matthew 14:22 – 33) We often read this story and think “poor overzealous Peter… he didn’t have enough faith to walk on water.” Think about it though when Jesus tells Peter to get out of the boat and walk towards him on water, he doesn’t hesitate, he jumps out and starts walking on water… If only for a moment. Eventually Peter realizes what he is doing, and fear overtakes him, and he begins to sink in the water. But can we really criticize Peter for his momentary lapse of faith? There are only two people we know who have walked on water… Jesus and Peter. You may think, yeah but he didn’t have enough faith to stay afloat. My response is, “have you ever walked on water?” I didn’t think so.
In as much as Peter was overzealous and enthusiastic for Jesus, he was also ashamed of and afraid to associate with Him at the trial and execution of Jesus as he denies any relation with Jesus Christ… He denies not once, not twice, but three times! And the third time he fervently denies as he says, “A little later some of the other bystanders came over to Peter and said, “You must be one of them; we can tell by your Galilean accent.” Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know the man!” And immediately the rooster crowed.” It is hard to believe that a man so zealous for his savior only a mere few hours previous is now denying his savior so vigorously. Again, we can look down our noses in disgust at what Peter did and how he had the audacity to do what he did, but we do forget, this denial had to happen in so that the prophecy Jesus made earlier that evening would come to pass. “Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.”
The life of Peter, however, does not end on this sour note of denial. After the crucifixion of Jesus and his resurrection He appears to Peter and asks him a pointed question… “Do you love me?” (Read John 21:15 – 19) This threefold challenge to Peter seems to be designed to parallel Peter’s three denials. This post resurrection meeting is often viewed as Jesus’ restoration of Peter to ministry and in his faith.
In verse 15 Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” The question we can ask is Who/what are ‘These’? Does Peter love Jesus more than the fishing nets, boats, fish (occupation). If in fact Peter did abandon his commission (which I personally don’t think) is his love for Jesus more than his love/need for his occupation?
Is he referring to the other disciples? Is Peter’s love for Jesus more than the disciples? Is his love for these men he would consider his brothers more than his love for Jesus?
Is he saying is your lover for me greater than the other disciples assuming they were present? This is the most likely meaning behind the question
The command of Jesus is simple and straight forward… he says, “If you love me, then feed my sheep.” This is a command and commission for believers today. If we love Jesus, then we will not only share the Gospel, but we will continually help one another grow in our faith and to disciple those who are growing in their faith.
In verses 18 & 19 Jesus brings to light the solemn prophecy of Peter’s death. Ancient tradition goes that Peter was martyred years later by being tied to a cross and crucified upside down. John tells us that in Peter’s death he would glorify God. “Follow me” These are the same words Jesus uses to call Peter and thus by speaking to Peter it is believed he is fully restored to his place as an apostle.
“The fact that Peter was clearly forgiven by Jesus and given new responsibilities, amounting to apostleship, despite his total denial of his Lord, can give genuine hope to Christians today who feel that they have denied Jesus and that this is unforgiveable. He calls only for our repentance and our love.”
Peter the Apostle
Regardless of his successes and flaws in life Peter goes on to be an influential Apostle of the Church. He was one of the first disciples to witness the empty tomb. He met with Jesus post resurrection to be forgiven and commissioned to go out make disciples. He was present at Pentecost, and he was the one who delivered the message describing what was happening and preaching the Gospel that resulted in thousands of people becoming believers that very day. He was one of the first people to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles. Peter received his vision from the Lord letting him know that Gentiles were not the unclean, unredeemable, and fodder for the fires of hell. He paved the road for the Apostle Paul regarding Gentile conversions who in turn took the Gospel to the Gentiles
Peter’s letters are essential documents in talking about salvation, the church, and Christian living. Author and commentator Scot McKnight writes, “Peter’s letter is an exhortation (5:12) to socially disenfranchised Christians to live steadfastly before God with faithfulness, holiness, and love. This steadfastness may lead to suffering, but a genuine understanding of persecution permits them to face it head-on and go forward faithfully. But the foundation of their faithfulness is an understanding of their salvation that Peter paints graphically at the beginning of his letter.
Peter’s life and ministry is an inspiration to me, and it should be to all Christians. In Peter we see, once again, how God uses an ordinary person like him to accomplish great things for the Kingdom of God. We also see the truth that we all know, but need reminding, that we are all seriously flawed as individuals. We all have issues in our lives, none of us are perfect, only Jesus is. But we see that Jesus is not content in allowing us to use the excuse of our flaws to continue living in our flawed and sinful ways. He calls us, like Peter, to own up to our sins, repent, and submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in our lives. God does not expect us to be perfect, that’s his job. What he does expect from us is to be men and women who are available to work in and through us. Peter was an ordinary man who did extraordinary things for the sake of the Gospel and in establishing the Church. If God can use a simple man like Peter to accomplish his plans, He can certainly use you and me as well.
 McKnight, S. (1996). 1 Peter (p. 29). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.
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I currently live on the Gulf Coast of Florida with my beautiful family. The Lord has blessed me with over 25 years of full time ministry. He is and has been faithful.