Summary: This sermon looks at Simon Peter, an important and deeply flawed leader in the early church.
Saints and Sinners: St. Peter – Sermon for CATM – May 24, 2009
Last week for our Quiet Service Pastor Ronda took us through the internal dialogue of an important woman in the Bible who we know as the Samaritan Woman or the Woman at the Well.
That message was an introduction to a short series we’re starting about some of the important characters that we find in the Bible.
The Bible is a book that contains hundreds and hundreds of stories about people as they interact in some way with God. We come to know ourselves best when we look at our relationship with God and that’s also true of the people we find in the Bible.
The Samaritan woman came to see her hope and her joy in Jesus, who, she discovered, knew her intimately and cared for her situation profoundly, so much so in fact that Jesus broke all kinds of taboos just talking to her at the well.
Today we look at how another person encountered Jesus, and how he interacted with Jesus in a few different situations over three years. And perhaps we may see ourselves in his story.
We’re going to look at 4 short stories about Peter, who was a simple fisherman.
Here’s how Luke records Peter’s first encounter with Jesus, our first snapshot of Peter.
Luke 5:1 One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, 2 he saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch." 5 Simon answered, "Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets." 6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. 8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, "Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men." 11 So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him”.
This was, as far as we know, Peter’s first encounter with Jesus. It became clear to Peter, after a pointless night of fishless fishing, after Jesus directed Peter and his co-workers to a huge bounty of fish, it became clear to Peter that Jesus was someone special. Very special.
Peter saw the miracle, but he didn’t focus on the miracle. He got that the real point of this event was Jesus and His power. Faced with Jesus and His power, Peter falls at Jesus knees and says: “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man.
So we see in Peter a man with his eyes open…both to the sinfulness of his own heart and also to the beauty of Jesus’ heart. And, his eyes being open, he was ashamed. Not a self-absorbed, woe-is-me kind of shame.
A pastor I knew received a consistent comment from people that we’re new to him. They would tell him how humble he was. He would always respond, “I’m not humble…I’m just accurate”. In other words, “I know who I am, and I know who God is”
Peter knew himself. Peter meets Jesus. Peter sees the first glimpse of the potential of a life bound to Jesus. He sees a life of incredible fruit, and he is overwhelmed with how short he falls of the glory of God.
But Jesus says to Peter, to put a fine point on this incredible object lesson: “"Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men."
So Peter, along with the other fishermen pulled their boats up on shore. They left EVERYTHING and followed Jesus.
That’s our first snapshot of Peter. Our second snapshot is from Matthew chapter 16.
Matthew 16: 13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?" 14 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets." 15 "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?" 16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."