The apostle Peter’s life is a great picture into the Christian life. I’m not sure why the apostle Thomas got nicknamed, “Doubting Thomas”—Peter doubted way more than ol’ Thomas.
I’m sure you remember the big whoopsies in Peter’s life. And I’d bet you also haven’t looked at them all (at least the ones in the Bible), all at once.
When I see the magnitude of Peter’s idiocy, it sure brings me a lot of comfort. This doesn’t excuse our prone-to-wander-ness at all, if anything, this gives us confidence in Christ. If an apostle struggled like this, and was used greatly by Christ, there is hope for you and me. We aren’t weird after all.
When Jesus told Peter to toss his fishing net on the other side, and he was suspicious.
“…he said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.’ And Simon answered, ‘Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.’”(Luke 5:4–5 ESV)
When Jesus told Peter to walk on water—and he did! But then he doubted and took a plunge.
“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?’”(Matthew 14:28–31 ESV)
When Jesus told the disciples he was going to die in Jerusalem, but Peter felt the need to rebuke Jesus. facepalm.
“And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.’”(Mark 8:31–33 ESV)
When Jesus wanted to the wash the disciples feet, but Peter initially refused.
“Peter said to him, ‘You shall never wash my feet.’Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.’”(John 13:8 ESV)
When Jesus was being arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, and Peter, ready for a fight, sliced off a man’s ear.
“Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear.” (John 18:10 ESV)
When Peter was asked if he knew Jesus, he denied knowing him—not once, not twice, but three times.
“And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.’ And he broke down and wept.” (Mark 14:72 ESV)
In Acts, Jesus told Peter to eat some animals that used to be off limits, and, you guessed it, Peter argued with Jesus three times.
“And there came a voice to him: ‘Rise, Peter; kill and eat.’ But Peter said, ‘By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.’ And the voice came to him again a second time, ‘What God has made clean, do not call common.’ This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.” (Acts 10:13–16 ESV)
In Galatians, Peter stumbled into hypocrisy in how he treated Gentile Christians—so bad that Paul rebuked him in front of the church.
“But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, ‘If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?’”(Galatians 2:11–14 ESV)
But here’s what I love about Peter, he always came back around. He never let shame rest on him. He always turned, repented, rethought his thoughts, and came back to following Jesus. What patience Jesus has for his sheep!
Peter messed up a lot, but he was faithful to the end—and at the end. Peter kept pastoring, kept following Jesus, and even followed Jesus to his own stapling to a cross.
Don’t get crushed by the short-term, look to the long-term. Keep looking to Jesus, this is what counts.
Let Peter be a testimony to you: there’s always a bright future with the risen Christ.
“For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” (Hebrews 3:14 ESV)