The Apostles – Becoming Unified Through Diversity

Lesson 1: “Peter - A Tough-minded Man Who Became One of God's Greatest Servants”


“Simon Peter answered, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.'” Matt. 16:16


A lesson in humility (Luke 5:1-11)

·        As he often did, Jesus taught around the Sea and Galilee, and attracted large crowds. After he taught, Jesus told Peter to let down his nets. (v. 3,4) Peter, irritated at their lack of success, at first resisted (v. 5). But Peter obeyed, and experienced amazing results! (v. 6,7)

·        Peter saw himself as he was, and literally fell to his knees (v. 8). This incident seems typical of Peter. A lack of faith at first, but a true heart for God, and genuine repentance


A new name (John 1:40-42)

·        Months before, while in the vicinity of Jerusalem, Peter and Andrew evidently heard about John the Baptist (v. 28). While following John, Andrew heard about another great teacher (v. 40)

·        Something Andrew saw in Jesus led him to believe this was the Messiah, and so ran to get Peter

·        Jesus knew the heart of the opinionated fisherman. Rugged, yet full of doubts, Jesus could see ahead, and though they hadn't met before, Jesus changed his name to Peter, (v. 42) which means rock. This fisherman would become the foundation for the church. But he still had much to learn.


A brilliant strategy (Matt. 4:18-20)

·        Peter was partners in a fishing business along with Andrew, James and John (v. 18; Luke 5:10) These four men would become "fishers of men" (v. 19)

·        These men were already comfortable working together, and it was only natural that Peter would become, or remain, their leader.

·        There are numerous examples of Peter taking upon himself the role of leader. One of the first examples is in Luke 8:43-45. Here are others… Matt 15:15; Matt. 16:16; Mark 8:32; Luke 12:41; Matt. 18:21; Matt. 19:27; Mark 11:21; John 13:36-38


Penetrating accountability questions (Mark 14:32-38)

·        Imagine what it was like to follow and learn from Jesus, God Himself! In Jesus, Peter had a teacher who knew the very thoughts in his heart

·        In this passage, Jesus has taken Peter, James and John ahead to pray. Jesus asks them to keep watch while he prays (v. 34) He returns to find them asleep (v. 37)

·        Mark is thought to have later become associated with Peter, and notice what he records in his Gospel. Jesus asks a hard question of Peter (v. 37) Notice in particular the name Jesus uses for Peter. This leader-to-be still needed to learn strength and determination. A day earlier, Peter had proclaimed he would not forsake the Lord (Mark 14:29)


Peter's ultimate failure (Luke 22:54-60)

·        Jesus had prepared Peter for his moment of denial (Luke 22:31-32) Again note the name used. Even then, Jesus was reassuring Peter, for he would need confidence as a leader

·        We all know how Peter failed Christ. Peter cut off the ear of a man who had come with the crowd to take Jesus. Jesus rebuked him (22:51) Later, as Peter waited outside, he denied Jesus three time. (22:54-60) As the rooster crowed, Peter knew what he had done (v. 62)




Brokenness and Restoration (John 21:15-19)

·        Peter experienced the terrible day of the crucifixion. He ran to the tomb to see if it was truly empty (Luke 24:12) He hid in the room with the other disciples, not sure what was going to happen next (John 20:19). Finally, he and the others retreated to what was familiar to them, their old comfort zone (John 21:3)

·        Jesus appeared and gave them some familiar instructions (v. 6)

·        This time, Peter did not hesitate, and again they hauled in a miraculous catch (v. 6) Peter knew at once it was the Lord! (v. 7) Typical of Peter, he did not wait for the others (v. 7,8)

·        Later, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him. Note that Jesus again uses Peter's original name, and it's probably no accident Jesus asks three times.

·        In the first two questions, Jesus uses the word agape. In Jesus' third question, and in all of Peter's answers, the word philos is used.

·        Peter still feels the sting of his denial, but Jesus gently restores him.


Lingering prejudice (Acts 10:1-36)

·        After Jesus returned to heaven, Peter became the leader of the apostles. Acts records the great deeds Peter did, and the great sermons he preached. (e.g. Acts. 2:14-41)

·        However, Peter still needed to learn one great lesson. Even though he was a leader in the Church, and was tasked to spread the Gospel far and wide, Peter didn't understand that Gentiles were also to be included in the flock (John 10:16)

·        A rude awakening came in the form of a dream (Acts 10:11) Three times Peter was told to eat of these unclean animals (Again, the reminder of three times).  Peter resisted (v. 14)

·        Peter didn't understand the meaning of this till he met the Roman Cornelius. The Holy Spirit came upon this Roman household (v. 44-48)

·        Peter made his first great confession in Matt. 16:16. Now, he makes his second great confession in Acts 10:34-35. Peter realized that Jesus came for all people.


3 Principles


#1) No matter what your previous experience, Jesus Christ can use you to serve Him

#2) It takes time to become the person God wants you to become

#3) Prejudice can be one of the most difficult challenges many people face in their Christian lives


For next week read Matt. 10:2; Matt. 20:20-21; Mark 5:37; Mark 3:17; Acts 12:1-2

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