Summary: This sermon series looks at the apostles of Jesus; this particular sermon focuses on Peter.
The Apostle Peter
July 11th, 2010
If you’ve ever gone into a fancy church you’ve probably seen pictures or statues of the Apostles. Growing up in Germany there were beautiful cathedrals all over the place: you couldn’t throw a rock without hitting a huge, ancient church (though you would get in some big trouble if you did). In those churches you could see the Apostles depicted in beautiful stained glass windows, ornate pictures, and in statues placed upon fancy pedestals. The apostles seem larger than life and make them seem like something bigger and better than an ordinary person. The church has done a disservice by portraying these men this way, like they were some kind of spiritual superheroes who were holier than the rest of us mere humans when this is not the case at all. The Apostles were great men and they did amazing things and we should be grateful to them. But we have to be careful not to lose sight of the fact that they were ordinary people like you and me. When Jesus found them they were not the smartest, the holiest, the most faithful, or even the most obedient. They were not wealthy, powerful, or educated. They were just regular guys who were transformed by the hand of Jesus to be used in powerful ways. They kind of remind me of those homes you see on Extreme Home Makeover. If you tune into the end of the show and see the way the house looks you might be impressed, but you are always MUCH more impressed when you see the “before” shot and see what the house looked like when they got there. The amazing things that the Apostles did are so much more amazing when you see what they were like BEFORE Jesus got hold of them.
Simon Peter is the perfect example of this point. Today I’m going to be talking about Simon Peter who was, in many ways, the first Apostle. Matthew 10:2 says Matthew 10:2 (ESV) 2 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Notice that Matthew says, “first, Simon, who is called Peter”. That doesn’t just mean that Peter was the first apostle called or that he was just the first in the list: he was first in the sense that he was a natural leader among the apostles. Even a quick read through the Gospels will show that he was “first” in a number of ways. In all of the lists of Apostles Peter is always mentioned first, for a reason. He was not just among the 12 chosen to be Apostles but first among those 12. He is usually right by Jesus’ side in all the events of the Gospel, including some of the most private events like when Jesus was transfigured on the mountain, when he was praying for strength the night before he was crucified and when Jesus was being tried by the high priest. His name is mentioned more than any other in the Gospels other than Jesus. He was usually the first to react: the first to get out of the boat, the first to grab a sword, the first to answer Jesus, the first to question Jesus. He was the boldest to confess Jesus as Lord and was the most insistent that he would never deny or desert Jesus, yet he was also the one who denied Jesus the most publically. Jesus praised him more than any of the other apostles but he was also the one that Jesus called Satan at one point. He was the only Apostle brave enough and silly enough to correct Jesus and he was also the one who was the most harshly denounced by Jesus. He went on to become not just the first Apostle in the Gospels but the first Apostle in the early church. It was Peter who delivered the first Christian sermon which led to over 3,000 people getting baptized. Peter was the apostle who led the first Gentile to Christ, a man named Cornelius. Peter was a bold preacher in the early church and the leader of the church at first. In fact, the first 12 chapters of Acts focus predominantly on Peter before the emphasis shifts to Paul.
Peter reminds me of the guy who has been at every church that I’ve been a part of. He is that guy who has a heart that is sold out to Jesus and wants to serve him with all his energy. So much, in fact, that he is always the first to jump in when something needs to be done to serve Jesus. He is always impulsive, quick to say something without first thinking it through, quick to do something as soon as the need is known, and not afraid to make mistakes. As a result, though, he is usually resented and is often seen as a bull in a china shop. But, while others are talking about planning to think about getting together to have a meeting to form a committee he usually has the job done. I’ve known and loved this guy in every church. This guy is just like Peter, the first apostle.