And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” -Matthew 14:25-33
There can be no doubt that if the Apostles Paul and Peter were on tour together that Paul would get top billing. Paul wrote 13 of the 27 books of the New Testament while Peter maybe wrote three. Why shouldn’t Paul get top billing? But sometimes I think that Peter gets the short end of the stick in the shadow of Paul’s apostleship. I find it hard sometimes to relate to Paul. I have not been a pharisee who persecuted the church, but like many of us, I consider myself a regular person like Peter the fisherman who has been changed by the touch of Jesus Christ.
Now I admit that Peter was somewhat of a dolt at times. Imagine you are Peter and you are creating your resume and you have to begin with the:
- I walked on water with Jesus, but didn’t have enough faith to make it all the way to Him.
- I denied Jesus three times, though I was restored by Jesus later.
- I was at Jesus’ transfiguration, but put my foot in my mouth when I suggested we build three shrines.
- I rebuked Christ, and was rebuked back in the process.
- I cut the ear off the servant of the High Priest to protect Jesus, which Jesus in turned healed.
- I was chastised by the Apostle Paul for being prejudiced towards the gentiles.
Not exactly stellar, career-advancing activities. But at closer examination Peter really did have some good characteristics. He was passionate, though sometimes misdirected. He was the boldest of all the Apostles. He knew he was unworthy of the love of Christ, “But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8). It is Peter who the Holy Spirit decides to use at Pentecost to preach and 3,000 people believe in Christ. He willingly suffered persecution, imprisonment, beatings, and even rejoiced at the fact that he was worthy to suffer disgrace for the Lord‘s sake (Acts 5:41). Peter was a natural leader, it just took the Holy Spirit to bring it out in him. Even then, he still had some trouble. He was rebuked by Paul for not eating with the gentiles when Jews were around. I am finding more and more that I can more easily relate to Peter than to Paul.
Many times I have to extract my foot from my mouth. I can be impulsive and act without thinking through the consequences and listening to those around me. I can be extremely passionate about somethings, and sometimes my greatest passion is actually focused on what it should be focused upon. I am understanding more and more that I am not worthy of the love of Christ and the blessings that He has given me, especially as I draw closer to Christ. My faith at times is not what it should be, but I have hope that if Jesus could use Peter he can use me. He can change me and use me beyond anything I could ever imagine to further His kingdom. I just need to be willing to get out of the boat and walk on the waves of this world in faith by keeping my eyes on Christ.
Father, I am not worthy of You. I am a sinful man amongst a sinful people, but you have redeemed me and lifted me from my sin. Help me to keep my eyes focused on you. Help me not to not be swallowed by the waves of this world so that I can be used by You to bring You praise and glory that is due your name. Use me to build Your kingdom through the power of the Holy Spirit. – Amen