This first writing of Simon Peter’s is the very tonic you and I need. Our introductory instruction will show how singularity qualified this vulnerable and effusive man is in guiding you and I through the sufferings of life. But first, what do we know about him from the Bible?
We know he was a Fisherman:
- As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen –
We know he possessed a core goodness, a core humility:
- Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” – Luke 5:5-8
We know he was renamed:
- Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter) – John 1:42
We know he was married:
- When Jesus came into Peter’s home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever – Matthew 8:14
We know he was loyal:
- As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you? Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” – John 6:66-69
We know he was impetuous:
- But Peter said to Him, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away” – Matthew 26:33
- Peter said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” – John 13:8
- Simon Peter then, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear; and the slave’s name was Malchus – John 18:10
- Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land. – John 21:7-8
But who was he? That he was a fisherman meant he had no formal training in the Scriptures beyond what any Hebrew Youth would have received. And what we encounter in the very beginning of his writing in First Peter? No less than 18 central doctrines of the new life in Christ within the first five verses!
- The Blood of Christ
- The Trinity
- Grace and Peace
- Living Hope
- Eternal destiny
- Heaven awaits
- Divine protection
And that’s only the first five verses! So what happened to this unschooled fisherman? How did he come to be such a powerful and lasting influence upon the entire world? The one thing I have noticed and wish to point out is that he learned from the things he suffered. In fact, the Restart viewpoint of the book of First Peter is that it is a book of suffering. So many of us carry burdens of mangled relationships, dependency on indulgences – so many of us are lonely, depressed, uncertain – or unexcited about what tomorrow holds. I firmly believe as we study together these next few sessions we will emerge changed, renewed and restarted. Permit me to offer a brief outline of where we will go in the next weeks:
- Our Suffering in view of our Security produces Joy. It is an unexpected truth that we can experience joy during suffering when we really grasp our security in Christ
- Our Suffering in view of study of the Word produces Holiness. How when we address our hurts with dedicated and intentional times in the Word you and I can emerge God-fearing, devoted, virtuous.
- Our study of the Suffering of Jesus produces in us separation from worldliness, it produces change in our general behaviors and we come to embrace the power and necessity of obedience.
- Our Suffering and the intentional focus on the Second Coming of Jesus produces powerful fruit. We will become focused on serving others, we will become more familiar with a new and powerful hope and come to live under its protection. We will choose to shred ourselves of pride and self-indulgence. And lastly living through our trials with an active and intentional focus on the return of Jesus will build the spiritual muscles of perseverance, persistence and patience
This is the roadmap we will travel together through the book of First Peter. But before leaving our introductory session together, we should answer the question of why Simon Peter was particularly qualified to instruct you and I about sufferings.
Balancing Service and Family
First off he lived the pressures of Balancing of service and family. Does this sound familiar to you – having a family and making time to make God a priority:
- Then Peter said to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?” – Matthew 19:27
Peter knows suffering in this area – you can feel his pain here. I’ve made sacrifices – I gave up my family time, my family priorities to be with you Jesus. What now? That’s sounds like you and I trying to balance service and family. Each week I place money in the Restart collection box in back (or I don’t) – what is the benefit to me – I have bills to pay! If I come and help at the Church – it means things are not getting done at home!
Peter suffered the pressures of this very real burden as do you and I.
Well intentioned, but mistaken
Have you ever felt the pain of this? Saying or doing something you meant to be positive – but it didn’t turn out like that. In the verse below Jesus had just begun to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. Peter was well intentioned when he spoke as he did – but he was mistaken… and he suffered for it.
- Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s”- Matthew 16:22-23
Like you and I, Peter thought he was on the right path – he trusted his own judgement.
Just like you and I do. We mean well, but the other person takes us to the woodshed and we suffer for it. As the Proverb instructs: “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” – Proverbs 16:25. This is a very painful experience for us. When you get called out sometimes too, you learn that you are not the person you thought you were. Your blinders fall off and you are left looking at your bare self. This is a difficult suffering – having to face yourself and find you come up short.
Deliberate in Disobedience
Here then is an entirely different source of suffering. Things we intentionally do and later live with regret and bitterness. It happened to Simon Peter, it shaped him.
- Then he began to curse and swear, “I do not know the man!” And immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly – Matthew 26:74-75
Consequences are certain to come of every action. “For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality – Colossians 3:25. Consequences hurt – and they linger. I gamble the family paycheck and now there’s no food. The act can be forgiven – but the consequence remain. Things cannot be unsaid – our stupid acts cannot be undone. Like Peter, this is a direct and painful cause of suffering. When we linger on any of our negative past actions, two other burdens come calling..
Remorse and Shame
You will remember Jesus is talking to Peter after the resurrection, He was very direct in asking him, three times, whether Peter loved Him.
- He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep” – John 21:17
Three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him – Peter is filled with remorse and shame at his actions during the trial. Here in this verse you can feel him sag under the weight of it. Who hasn’t lived with these two devils? Who hasn’t had to endure the suffering of their society? Who hasn’t learned the bitter taste they leave? This is suffering indeed. And my last point to underpin Simon Peter’s expertise in instructing you and I on suffering is:
The Suffering of Leadership
By this I mean the strain and oppression of wondering is your instruction to those in your care being heard? Have you done enough to prepare them? Are they walking away with what they need? What parent hasn’t wondered if they have prepared their children with the proper tools? Simon Peter wrote of this in his Second Letter:
- I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder – 2 Peter 1:12-13
- And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind – 2 Peter 1:15
Can you feel his tension? He knows the time is coming for him to be led away for execution.. “As long as i am in this earthly dwelling.” When you are a leader of any kind – there is the burden of leadership. Peter uses the word Diligent – working hard to prepare his lambs – those under his care – “After my departure” He knows he is going to be killed – Christ forecast that to him. He worries and strains under the suffering of leadership.
So why should Simon Peter be our guide through the wastelands of suffering? Because he is one of us – and he emerged a changed and powerful man. Just like we will when we take heed to his instruction! Please tune into each lesson. May the Lord Bless You as You Go!