Summary: Jesus chose 12 ordinary men as His disciples. Even though Peter had moments that he showed great faith and other times weakness, Jesus worked in and through Peter's life. Sinlessness was not a prerequisite to serve just faith and trust in Jesus!
Twelve Ordinary Men
Online Sermon: http://www.mckeesfamily.com/?page_id=3567
Do you feel like you are giving God your very best effort to serve in His kingdom? While there are many excuses to not serve in the body of Christ such as “I don’t feel needed,” “the staff are paid to be the ministers,” “I don’t have time,” “I fear commitment” or “its too difficult to get involved;” the number one thing that keeps most people from serving is the perception that their sin has disqualified them. While there are times when we desire nothing but God (Psalms 73:26) and are on the mountaintop feeling the inexpressible and glorious joy of being in His presence (1 Peter 1:8-9), there are other times when we bask in the evil desires of our hearts (James 1:14-15) and are in the valley with our souls imprisoned, starving and thirsty because we have cherished the unrighteous paths of life. Those who have spent time in the valleys of sin often feel like they are unworthy to serve because they continually break God’s command to be holy (1 Peter 1:16). While God certainly does not want us to cherish sin in our hearts (Palms 66:18), sinlessness is not a requirement to serve in the body of Christ. Today we are going to review how the leader of the disciples got his two names “Simon” and “Peter” to give us hope that like him we too can serve despite our sinful nature.
Background on Peter
Peter’s family lived in the city of Bethsaida on the northern shore of the sea of Galilee (John 1:44) but later moved to Capernaum where he and his brother Andrew had a fishing business (Mark 1:21, 29), with James and John as likely partners (Luke 5:10). Peter’s father’s name was Jonah (Matthew 16:17) or John (John 1:42, 21:15-17). Peter was married (Luke 4:38) and often took his wife on his apostolic missions (1 Corinthians 9:5). Even though Scripture does not mention it, Clement of Alexandria and Stromateis both mention Peter as having had children. After having heard John the Baptist’s testimony that Jesus was the “Lamb of God” (John 1:35-40), both Andrew and Peter became apostles of Christ. Since Peter is always the first name mentioned in the list of the twelve apostles (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:13) and due to Peter being called “first” or “protos” in Matthew 10:22 which means “chief,” is proof he was most likely the earthly leader of the twelve Apostles.
Peter’s name given at birth was Simon Bar-Jonah (Matthew 16:17) which meant Simon, son of Jonah (John 21:15-17). When Jesus first met Simon He gave him another name Peter which in Aramaic was Cephas (1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:22) or “rock.” Which name Jesus used to refer to this apostle depended on which nature he allowed control of his life. When he allowed his brash, impetuous, impulsive and overeager actions to take control of his life then Jesus usually called him “Simon.” For example, he was called Simon when he did not believe Jesus would help him catch fish (Luke 5:5), when Jesus predicted he would betray him three times (Luke 22:31-32), in the garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:37-38) and when Jesus reinstated him to service (John 21:15-19). When he allowed his faith in Christ to be in control he was usually called Peter to describe the person he trying to become: the rock and future leader of the early church (Matthew 16:17-20). Even though Peter vacillated between sin and righteousness he was still called and became the leader of the church.
Leaving the Old Simon to Embrace the New Peter
Like Peter we as Christians wrestle with putting off the old self that is a slave to sin (Romans 6:6) to embrace new self that is born of God (John 1:13). While we are fully aware that those who love God follow His commands (John 14:21), our thoughts, words and deeds often reflect more our love of this world than that of God! Like Paul, there is a war going on inside of us for our allegiance and without Christ’s help (Romans 7) we will forever obey the evil desires of our hearts (James 1:14) far quicker than those of our Creator. When we fall short of God’s glory by sinning we often believe this disqualifies us from serving in God’s kingdom. This of course is an excuse for if sinlessness were a criterion to serve then no human being would ever serve, for we all sinned and will do so again (1 John 1:10). Like Peter we are not to use our sin as an excuse to not serve but as an area of our lives that needs repentance so that we can fulfill the divine role God has assigned to us (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). The following paragraphs are going to look at five areas in which we as Christians need transformation to go from being a “Simon” to be a “Peter” in our service to God.