“From listening comes wisdom; from speaking comes repentance.” – Robert Greenleaf
(You can find Peter’s story scattered throughout the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – reading a couple of them, like Mark and John, should help… and his own letters 1st and 2nd Peter have insight into him as well)
Here we have a fisherman named Simon. Imagine him correctly – probably a big, hairy, maybe a little smelly, hard muscled fisherman. His brother Andrew introduced him to Jesus, who called him from his boat after a long fruitless night of fishing. Jesus changes his name to “Petros”, meaning “rock”(incidentally, it is an interesting study to look at all of the people in the Bible whose names were changed by God or someone else). Jesus makes the statement that He will build His church on the “rock” of faith and proclamation that Peter makes. Peter goes on to be involved in some of the greatest moments in human history. He interacts with Christ in so many different ways.
Most of us know some of the amazing stories about him, but what we make of those stories is important. Peter can be seen in two ways: as a failure who sank in the water when he should have walked, who argued with Jesus about fishing technique, who made promises he could not keep before the trip into Jerusalem, who responded in violence at the arrest of Jesus, who talked before he thought many times, and who even denied Christ three times; or he can be seen as the one who stepped out of the boat and walked on water, the one who had every intention of dying with Christ and said so, who responded passionately in some way to Christ’s arrest, who desired to honor Christ, Moses and Elijah, who, in complete and painful honesty, was reconciled to his Lord, who became the pastor of the Church of Jerusalem, who wrote at least two letters to other believers, and who, according to church history, held to his love for Christ to death. Peter was certainly rough around the edges, but he was fiery in his passion. Take note, every time the disciples are listed, Peter is listed first. In fact, when Jesus was resurrected, he asked the women to “Go and tell Peter and the others…”.
If we aren’t careful we can be like the other disciples who played it safe, working hardest to avoid making mistakes. Or we can speak the truth to the best of our knowledge and accept the criticism and growth it may bring us, continually and honestly striving to become more like Christ. Tenacity is the strength to “stick to it”. Passion and willingness are traits that don’t care if we look silly in front of other people! Peter has many other qualities we can learn from. While all the other disciples stayed in the boat, or stayed quiet, Peter made an effort! May we, in the spirit of Peter, get out of the boat! An issue for most men is the fear of looking foolish. What would happen if we gave up that fear?
1. What character traits do you admire/not admire about Peter?
2. How could you apply them in your life today?
3. Do you think it is odd that Jesus picked men like fishermen to be his disciples?
4. Do you think it would be hard to step out of the boat like Peter did? Why?
5. Why did Peter sink?
6. If you chose to be passionate about Jesus, what would be different about your life?
7. Are you afraid to feel foolish? Are there any ways that you think your dad is afraid to look foolish?
8. What do you think about Peter’s denial? If you think if you knew what sins you might commit in the next few days, do you think you would commit them anyway? Ok, what sins do you think you might commit in the next few days?