Simon Peter was a blue-collar man. He hauled nets over gunwales for a living. Peter had a sibling, also a fisherman. These men had a fresh-water, wooden-boat operation working out of docks on the northern edge of the Sea of Galilee. Andrew introduced his brother to Jesus with stirring words: “We have found the Messiah” (John 1:41).
An unforgettable scene: Jesus is walking along the stony beach. He comes upon a little group tending their nets after a night’s work–picking them clean, sewing up tears, drying and folding them for the next run out on the water. Jesus says, “Follow me; I will make you fishers of men.” They did, and he did.
Peter’s wife, whose name we do not know, is mentioned several times. Her mother lived with the couple in Capernaum.
“Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man” (Luke 5).
“You are the Christ, the son of the living God” (Matthew 16).
“Lord, if it’s you … tell me to come to you on the water” (Matthew 14).
“He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection from the dead” (1 Peter 1).
“Rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4).
“Always be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks you the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3).
Jesus called twelve men to him, designating them apostles. An apostle was an eyewitness. They saw the Messiah alive, dead, then alive again. Before the apostles died, they wrote down for us what they had seen and heard. Jesus gave to the Twelve spiritual gifts: the authority to preach the good news of God’s forgiveness, to heal every kind of disease, to drive demons out of people. How did blue-collar Simon Peter handle all this privilege and authority? The Bible doesn’t blink: it shows an impulsive human being who blurted, who thought of himself first, who made promises he couldn’t keep, who was the first to reach for a sword. What moved him, self-love? Was it insecurity? In a painful scene close to the crucifixion, Peter fears for his own safety. He sees a way out and swore off Jesus publicly, pointedly, energetically, bombastically, pitifully. Afterwards, however, Peter broke down. He would later write, “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
Sometime after the humiliating events of Good Friday, we find Peter back in Galilee, back to his nets. He’s out on the water at night. With morning light comes a surprise: at the shore is a man calling to the boat. Then another surprise: Peter hurriedly rolls his sleeves and peels off his outer garment. Into the water he plunges, swimming, splashing, trying to run. A silly thing to see from a grown man. But the Lord Jesus did see, and did share a shore breakfast, and did re-commission his fearful, fallen fisherman.
“Lord, to whom else could we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
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