Summary: Peter met Jesus the Christ by the sea of Galilee and his life was never the same. He grew to be the most prominent disciple in the gospels and the first half of the book of Acts.
Peter, from Galilee to Glory
God has chosen to reveal Jesus to us in many ways in the Bible. From both Old and New Testaments Jesus is revealed to us. We can see him all the way through. Today, let’s see how we can see Jesus’ impact on the life of one of his most prominent followers in the Bible: Simon Peter.
On the north shore of the sea of Galilee, about 100 miles north of Jerusalem lies the ruins of Capernaum. Peter was from here. Perhaps he was born here. We don’t know much about his childhood. His father’s name was John, or as the KJV puts it: Jonah. Simon Bar Jonah, Simon the son of John was a fisherman. Jesus nicknamed him Peter or rock and it stuck. That’s why the Cotton Patch version calls him "Rocky Johnson." That’s actually cleverly correct. Biblical Archaeological Review magazine ran an article some time ago that said they think they might have uncovered Peter’s house there in Capernaum. They discovered the foundation of a ruin from about 58 B.C. that was close to a synagogue ruin in town from the same period. This town was on an important trade route and had a thriving fishing industry in the days of Jesus.
Early in the gospel accounts we read about Jesus walking along those shores calling disciples to follow him. Peter, James and John were among the first to answer the call.
We’ve seen Peter in the gospels. He’s pretty rough. He’s quick to speak his mind, even when it gets him into trouble. Peter is the one who spoke up first when Jesus asked the 12, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter confessed – “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus blessed him and promised to give the keys of the kingdom to his disciples on this occasion.
At another time, in John 6, after Jesus had feed the 5000 and when they came to him to get him to do it again, he said such difficult things about eating his flesh and drinking his blood that the multitudes began to leave him. Jesus turned to the 12 and asked, “Will you leave me too?” It was Peter again who spoke up, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and have come to know that you are the holy one of God.”
Many times during his ministry Jesus would take Peter, James and John with him and allow no one else to come. He took them with him to the Mount of Transfiguration. When Jesus was transfigured before them and Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus, Peter piped up: “Lord, it is good for us to be here. Let us make three tabernacles: one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” Then a cloud came down and God spoke and said: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, Listen to him.” Or in the old KJV “Hear ye him!”
On the night Jesus was betrayed, he told the disciples as they went to the Mount of Olives together, “All of you will fall away on account of me, for it is written, I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered.” Peter said, “Lord, even if all fall away, I will not!” Jesus turned to Peter and told him, “Truly I say to you, this night before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times!” Peter, who should have known better by now, said, “Lord! Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!”
But he did. Just like Jesus said he would. And he remembered Jesus’ words and it nearly killed him.
After Jesus crucifixion and resurrection, John’s gospel in chapter 21 tells how Jesus appeared to the disciples on the shore of Galilee while they were fishing. Perhaps they were near Capernaum. That’s where their boats and nets were when they left them. Peter instigated this fishing trip and after an all nighter, they were headed in to dock without a single fish. Jesus saw them from the shore as they were a ways out and he called to them and asked, “Have you caught any fish?” “No!” they answered. “Throw your nets on the right side of the boat and you’ll find some!” At this point, I imagine at least some of them were a little suspicious. They threw the nets out on the right side and 153 large fish jumped into the nets!” They couldn’t even haul them into the boat!
John says to Peter, “It’s him! It’s the Lord!” Peter grabs his garment, throws it on and then throws himself into the sea and swims to shore about 100 yards. The rest come behind him dragging the net full of fish. It must have been early morning and they joined Jesus there for breakfast.