I am really looking forward to this new study through 1 & 2 Peter, and am excited that you have decided to join us!
Here is a little background on Peter and the amazing transformation God did in his life.
Originally Peter’s name was Simon, but Jesus changed it to “Cephas” which translated means Peter (Rock) (Jn 1:42). He was from the city of Bethsaida (Jn. 1:44) and a fisherman by trade (Matt. 4:18).
Peter The Fisherman
Certain jobs attract certain personalities, and this seemed to be true of the fishermen in the 1st century. These guys were manly men, a bit gruff, often unkempt, and known for their use of vulgar language. Being a fisherman was not for the weak or the faint of heart. This job was very physically demanding and could be dangerous and scary if a storm caught you off guard. Fishermen were known for their loud personalities and maybe this is why Peter’s business partners (Lk. 5:10), James and John, were referred to as the Sons of Thunder (Mark 3:17).
But Jesus is powerful. When he called Peter, Peter was willing to walk away from all of it.
We read in Matthew that Jesus heals Peter’s mother-in-law (Matt. 8:14). This tells us he was a married man. What I find to be so neat is that his wife accompanied him on some of his missionary journeys (1 Cor. 9:5). We don’t know her name or anything else about her, but I’m looking forward to chatting with her when we meet in heaven.
Peter’s New Life
Peter’s life with Christ became radically different. While Jesus loved all of his disciples, he had a special connection with the three rough fishermen: Peter, James, and John. They were the only three who saw Jesus raise the daughter of Jairus from the dead (Mark 5:37), and they were the only three who saw the shekinah glory at the transfiguration (Matt. 17). Peter and John were the ones tasked with preparing the last meal Jesus would have with his disciples (Lk. 22:8), and it was Peter who experienced walking on water (Matt. 14:28-29).
On the outside Peter may have seemed like this awesome Christian. He was passionate, zealous, and bold. He was the first to recognize Jesus for who he really was, namely, the Son of God (Matt 16:16-17). He was called the “Rock,” after all.
But if you could have seen what he was like on the inside you who have seen a man who struggled with fear, doubt, and other weaknesses. We catch glimpses of this throughout the gospels. Peter’s fear caused him to deny Jesus three times (Matt. 26:33, 70-74), and his weakness resulted in him falling asleep multiples times when Jesus asked him to pray.
Peter went through a lot before he became this pillar of a Christian (Gal. 2:9) that we think of when we hear his name.
He struggled, was remolded by Jesus, and filled with grace.
Peter is one of the easiest Apostles for us to connect with because he did not have it all together. He knew what it felt like to fail, to be down and to have questions. He messed up, stuck his foot in his mouth (Matt. 16:22,23), and acted rashly (Jn 18:10). Peter experienced persecution, imprisonment, and torture. But he also knew how to rejoice in the midst of these trying and difficult circumstances (Acts 5:41).
In 1 and 2 Peter he writes to encourages us in our faith during the hard times we face. He specifically wrote to Christians who were experiencing persecution and alienation, even in their own hometowns, because of their faith. He talks to us about faith, obedience, and patience when life is hard. He shows us that through Christ we can stand up under anything.
Through his love and power Christ transformed this once prideful and boisterous man into an obedient, faith filled, humble servant of the church. Jesus predicted that Peter would be crucified for his faith (Jn. 21:18-19). Tradition says that when the time came Peter asked to be crucified upside down because he did not feel worthy to be crucified like his Lord and Savior, but there is no scriptural or historical proof of this.
While transformation is never easy, it is possible. It is possible through the power of Christ at work in us, just as Christ worked amazingly in the life of Peter. Through Peter we see that Christ can forgive unfaithfulness and overcome any weaknesses. We, too, can become Christians anchored in Christ, strong in our suffering, and passionate in our faith.
The letters of Peter will encourage us in this quest.
Looking forward to starting our new study with you TOMORROW!
Looking to Jesus,