Peter’s story is a testimony to the transformative power of Jesus Christ. God changed Peter from a common fisherman to an anointed miracle worker, apostle and biblical author. Peter was a great Christian. His name heads every list of Jesus’ twelve disciples in the New Testament. Peter was the first apostle to be called by Jesus, to recognize Him as the Messiah, and to witness His resurrection. But with all his greatness, Peter’s faith journey was punctuated with episodes of doubt and spiritual struggle. God worked with Peter through his struggles. God is redemptive, omnipotent and merciful. He stayed with Peter, step-by-step, and transformed him from new convert to mature believer. God will do the same for you.
A fisherman by occupation
The Bible’s first mention of Peter is in Matthew 4 which describes him as a fisherman in the marketplace of Galilee with his brother, Andrew. Peter was casting a net into the lake when Jesus approached him and spoke an invitation. Matthew 4:19-20 (NIV) records the moment, “‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed him.'” Peter was called by Christ in the midst of his daily labor; his was a workplace conversion. Peter was ready to meet God as evidenced by his decision to leave his nets “At once” and follow Jesus. There was no coaxing, no pressure and no theological discussion. Peter “followed” the man who stood before him, i.e., the Person of Jesus Christ. Peter entered into life-changing fellowship with Jesus just like other new Christians do today.
Struggled with his faith
All of us have struggled with our faith, and Peter was no different. Satan targeted Peter in Caesarea Philippi, and deceived him regarding one of Jesus’ teachings. Mark 8:32 records that Peter was so influenced by Satan that he literally “… took [Jesus] aside and began to rebuke him.” This is an example of how Satan, sin and the world can pervert our understanding of the gospel. Even Peter, a believer who heard the actual words of Jesus, was deceived. Jesus’ response to Peter follows in verse 33, “‘But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. ‘Get behind me, Satan’ he said. ‘You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.'” Peter was one of only two disciples whom Jesus rebuked, the other was Judas. Judas ultimately betrayed Jesus, but Peter became His apostle to the world.
Mark 14 gives another example of Peter’s faith struggle. Verses 43-65 describe how Jesus was arrested by the Roman guards and taken before the Sanhedrin where he was beaten and condemned. Peter was in the courtyard outside when a girl identified him as a disciple of Jesus. When confronted by the crowd Peter denied that he knew Jesus “… and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about” Mark 14:71.
Transformed by the Holy Spirit
God never gave up on Peter, and He will never give up on you. In His grace God continued to cleanse Peter, and equipped him for his Kingdom destiny. Here are three examples of what God did through the Spirit-sanctified Peter:
After Christ’s Ascension and after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Peter was ministering in Jerusalem. He preached his first sermon, and “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day” Acts 2:41. Three thousand new Christians were brought into the Kingdom through the ministry of a man who less than two months earlier denied that he even knew Christ. God forgives and His Holy Spirit sanctifies. God changed both Peter, and the people who heard his message.
A few days later, Acts 3:6 records Peter’s healing of a crippled beggar at the temple gate, “Then Peter said, ‘Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.'”
God even used Peter in Joppa to raise Tabitha from the dead. “Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, ‘Tabitha, get up.’ She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up'” Acts 9:40. Tabitha’s transformation from death to life is an example of what God does in the spiritual life of every believer.
God did all of this through the transformed life of a common fisherman. Peter went on to author two New Testament books, and in 1 Peter 1:2 he writes of, “… the sanctifying work of the Spirit…” The same life-changing Spirit who lived in Peter, lives in you.