PETER: GROWING IN FAITH
Simon Peter was the leader of the disciples (Matthew 9:35-10:4; Mark 6:6-9; Luke 9:1-2). Originally named Simon, Jesus changed it to Peter to describe his eventual strength and stability (Matthew 16:18; Mark 3:16; Luke 6:14; John 1:42). He was a very outgoing, friendly, talkative person who liked everyone and wanted everyone to like him. Unfortunately, though, he often didn’t have a lot of self-discipline. He met Jesus through his brother Andrew who was a follower of John the Baptizer (John 1:40-41). Jesus challenged him to leave his fishing nets and follow Him full time (Matthew 4:13-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 4:31; 5:1-11). Peter was a natural leader, but only because of his forceful personality. It took a while for him to learn how to be a godly leader. Jesus patiently worked with him through his mistakes to help him become one of the greatest leaders in the early church. He’ll do the same with us if we let Him.
Throughout His time on earth, Jesus challenged Peter’s faith so it would grow stronger. He put Peter in positions where he needed to trust and see Jesus work in his life. After fishing all night and catching nothing, Jesus told him to go back out and try again. He did, and he caught a great amount of fish (Luke 5:4-7). Jesus did this to strengthen Peter’s young faith. As Peter got older, the tests got harder, and he learned to trust and obey even when his nets came back empty!
Jesus later told Peter to catch a fish, and in its mouth, he would find a coin he should use to pay their taxes (Matthew 17:24-27; Mark 9:33). Peter trusted and obeyed Jesus. As the challenges increased, Jesus called Peter to come to Him walking on top of water (Matthew 14:28-29; John 6:19-20). Peter obeyed, but when he saw the waves, he became afraid and started sinking, then he turned to Jesus for help and was delivered. That is often what happens to us when God stretches our faith as well. We get our eyes off Jesus and onto the circumstances around us. We start sinking. The sooner we get our eyes back on Jesus the better!
Peter’s faith grew while he was with Jesus. He was the one who spoke for all and affirmed the deity of Jesus in his great confession of faith (Matthew 16:16; John 6:68-69). In his first letter, 1 Peter, he talks a lot about the importance of faith and submission to God. Of course, he still had failures, like when he denied even knowing Jesus. But he did repent and was restored.
As you look back at your life, can you see God doing things to stretch your faith? What have been some of the hardest times you’ve had trusting Him? What did you learn from them? Is He stretching your faith in any way right now? Based on what you have learned in the past, how should you respond now?
cto Rev. Dr. JERRY SCHMOYER
Christian Training Organization
(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View)
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