Summary: Peter’s call by Christ
PETER – MEETING ON THE SEASHORE
I don’t know if you have a favourite character in Scripture or if there is someone with whom you readily identify? I love Simon Peter in the New Testament. Yet when I think about him I have to readily admit I don’t know an awful lot about him and yet he is mentioned 200 times in the New Testament. That shows how central a character he is when you compare that John is mentioned less than 50. In fact the first 12 chapters of the book of Acts are given over solely to Peter. Peter is generally pictured as rugged, impulsive, strong and quick tempered. He is also remembered as the fragile fisherman who denied Jesus to a little servant girl and the one who cut off Malchus’ ear in the Garden of Gethsemane. Yet he is a far more complex character than the caricature in most people’s minds. So today we start a sermon series on Simon Peter. The purpose is that in understanding Simon from the New Testament we will understand more of his friendship with Christ Jesus – and so learn how our relationship with Christ can grow.
SYNOPSIS OF SIMON’S LIFE
His given name was Simon bar-Jonah – which means today Simon Johnson. Jesus gave him the new name Peter – we will look at that further in a moment.
He was the brother of Andrew, who first brought him to Jesus.
He was originally from Bethsaida, on the western coast of the Sea of Galilee.
He was a fisherman by trade, he partnered with Andrew, James and John.
He had no formal education..
He had a distinct Galilean accent, which readily identified him.
He was in the core of the disciples, the ‘three’ closest to Jesus.
His name is always the first in the list of the disciples, and Judas’ always last. The denier and the betrayer as a set of bookends.
He was the first person to confess his sinfulness to Jesus.
He receives the most severe rebukes from Jesus.
At least seven miracles of Jesus are performed for Peter or are connected to him – two miraculous catches of fish, the curing of his mother-in-law, his walking on water, the healing of Malchus’ ear, two miraculous deliverances from prison and the coin in the mouth of the fish to pay the taxes due.
Mark’s Gospel is written because of him.
He suggests replacing Judas (Acts 1.15).
He preaches the first sermon at Pentecost (Acts 2).
He performs the first healing (Acts 3).
He defends the gospel before the Sanhedrin (Acts 4).
He decides the case of Annanias and Sapphira (Acts 5).
He is the first counsellor to Paul (Gal.1.18).
He mediates between James and Paul (Acts 15).
We don’t know much about his later life – other than that he took missionary journeys to Corinth and Rome – where Eusebius tells us he was crucified by Nero. So that is a brief synopsis of Simon Peter’s life. But this morning I want to concentrate on the call of Simon by Jesus.
Turn with me to John 1.40-43. in the NT the friendship between Jesus and Peter is the one we see most clearly. After this first meeting on the seashore at Galilee it would appear that Simon hardly left Jesus’ side. The gospels also show the flare ups between them. It shows the passion, the intensity and the depth of the friendship between Jesus and Simon. In fact Simon is the only disciple who actually rebukes Jesus and says ‘no’ to him. After the resurrection the women are instructed to ‘tell the disciples and Peter.’ So you see there is an intimacy in this relationship between Jesus and Simon which was noted by the writers of the NT and even by the very angels themselves.
Simon is standing on the seashore having no doubt been fishing all night. Maybe, just maybe he is angry with Andrew because we read that Andrew had spent all the previous day with Jesus after John the Baptist had pointed to Christ and said ‘Behold the Lamb of God…’ Here is a rugged fisherman, the sea, the boat and the net are the extent of his working life. There is nothing that marks him out amongst all the other fishermen on the seashore mending nets, tidying up after a hard nights toil. There is nothing that anyone walking along would have said – ‘there call him he will be a great man amongst men, call him.’ But listen to these words from John 2.25 ‘He (Jesus) did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.’ That is significant at this moment – why? Look at what happens when Andrew brings Simon to Jesus. Don’t you just love Andrew bringing his brother to Jesus? Andrew does not even get a chance to introduce them before Jesus speaks Simon’s name. Jesus knew this man who stood before him. In fact he knew more about Simon than Simon did about himself. Then we have these amazing words in verse 42 – READ.