UB David + I'll B Jonathan, Inc.


Used with permission: Character by Character compiled by Selwyn Hughes and Trevor Partridge. Copyright © CWR (www.cwr.org.uk).




Scripture passages referenced and linked in this lesson are written out for your convenience on this page.

UB David + I'll B Jonathan, Inc.


Character by Character

Lesson 8: Simon Peter

Simon Peter

Scripture passages referenced and linked in this lesson are written out for your convenience on this page.

Simon Peter: Simon means "hearing"; Peter means "stone" or "rock"

A calling and confession

Matthew 4:18-20, 10:2 & 16:16-19 (click the link to read the passages)

With his brother Andrew, he was occupied in his work as a fisherman

Simon was a member of the fishing community at Capernaum, beside the Sea of Galilee—a place from which Jesus selected several of His disciples. With his brother Andrew, he was occupied in his work as a fisherman when Jesus called them to leave their settled and probably prosperous life (Matt. 19:27) to follow Him.

Jesus gave Simon the surname Peter (Mark 3:16)—meaning “a rock”.

their spokesman on the Day of Pentecost

Simon Peter eventually became the foremost of the group of disciples and was their spokesman on the Day of Pentecost. He was the first disciple to acknowledge the divinity of Jesus, confessing Him to be the Messiah, the Son of God.

For thought and contemplation:

Ever noticed that in John 1:42, Jesus said to Simon, “You are Simon… You will be… Peter”? The natural was changed to the spiritual—with just one word. Today the Lord is saying the same thing to you: “This is what you are by nature, but this is what you shall be by My grace.” Let that thought stimulate you toward greater spiritual heights.

“…if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Cor. 5:17, NIV)

An impulsive nature

Matthew 14:22-33 & 17:4, John 18:10

The New Testament writers rarely give us any details of the physical appearance of the characters they portray, but they spend a good deal of time letting us know their character traits. Peter, it appears, had an impulsive nature which he demonstrates time and time again in the Biblical accounts. Here are a few examples: (1) he blurts out an inappropriate suggestion during the moments of Christ’s transfiguration (Matt. 17:4); (2) objects to having his feet washed by Christ at the Last Supper (John 13:8); (3) strikes out wildly with his sword at the time of Jesus’ arrest (John 18:10); and (4) leaps out of the fishing boat to swim to the risen Christ who is standing on the shore (John 21:7).

Peter had an impulsive nature

For thought and contemplation:

Did Jesus change Simon Peter’s impulsive nature to one that was calmer and more tranquil? There can be little doubt that He did. Just read 2 Peter 1:6 and note Peter’s emphasis on patience. A close relationship with Jesus never fails to turn negative traits into positive ones.

“…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4, NIV)

A tender heart

John 13:1-9

Jesus rises from the table and begins to undertake the menial task of washing His disciples’ feet

As Jesus and His disciples prepare to begin their meal in the Upper Room, no one appears to attend to the customary washing of feet—a service usually given by a slave to those coming into the house from a long distance. To the amazement of all present, Jesus rises from the table and begins to undertake the menial task of washing His disciples’ feet. When He arrives at the place where Simon Peter is sitting and prepares to wash his feet, Peter’s tender heart is deeply touched and he pleads with Jesus not to go ahead with this menial task. Peter has to learn, however, that he must submit to Jesus in everything if the relationship between them is not to be broken (v. 8b).

he must submit to Jesus in everything

For thought and contemplation:

How would you have felt if you had been in that party of disciples and Jesus came to wash your feet? Appalled? Reluctant? Humbled? We must never forget that the Christian life involves us, not only in ministering to Christ, but equally letting Christ minister to us.

“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name…” (Phil. 2:8-9, NIV)

A weak character

Matthew 26:33-35 & 57-74

Jesus, of whom it was said that He “knew what was in man” (John 2:25, RSV) said of Simon Peter that, although his spirit was willing, his flesh was weak (26:41). Peter seems to have been either unaware of this weakness or to have completely ignored it. At the Last Supper, he strongly professes his loyalty to Christ, and asserts that even if everyone else should desert the Master, he most certainly will not do so—even if it means dying with Him (26:33-35). Peter stoutly maintains this attitude even though Jesus tells him that he will deny his Lord three times before many more hours have passed. What Jesus said came true, revealing how misplaced was Simon Peter’s self-confidence and how weak his character really was.

What Jesus said came true

For thought and contemplation:

Don’t look too long at Peter’s weaknesses—focus on your own. Are you aware of any weaknesses you may have? Are you able to recognise them and depend on God’s power to overcome them? Remember, maturity is being able to recognise your weaknesses as well as your strengths.

“…For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:10, NIV)

The rock

1. His call. The first of the twelve.

These are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (who is called Peter) (Matt. 10:2)

2. His courage

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” (Matt. 14:28)

3. His confession

“Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matt. 16:15-16)

4. His impulsiveness

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (John 18:10)

5. His self-confidence

But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” (Mark 14:31)

6. His indifference

“Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?” (Mark 14:37)

7. His denial

But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about…” (Mark 14:68)

8. His repentance

Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him… And he broke down and wept. (Mark 14:72)

A repentant spirit

Matthew 26:75 & Luke 24:12

Simon Peter repents of his failures

When the crowing of the cock reminds Peter of Christ’s words at the Last Supper concerning his threefold denial of Him, he breaks down and weeps bitterly. Unlike Judas Iscariot, whose remorse leads him to end his life, Simon Peter repents of his failures and seeks to rejoin the disciples. When, later, some women come to the place where the group is assembled bringing the news of Christ’s resurrection, they are regarded as mistaken; but Peter and John, though to some extent disbelieving, run to the tomb to see for themselves (John 20:2-10).

discover for themselves the thrilling fact that Jesus is no longer dead

They then discover for themselves the thrilling fact that Jesus is no longer dead, but alive!

For thought and contemplation:

Someone has described the difference between remorse and repentance in this way: “Remorse says ‘I am sorry’, but repentance says ‘I am sorry enough to quit.’” Keep that in mind so that the next time something occurs over which you need to repent, you will not just stop at remorse—being sorry—but move on to repentance—being sorry enough to quit.

“The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18, NIV)

A responsive will

John 21:1-17

they catch nothing

Simon Peter and some of the other disciples return to Galilee and take up their old trade of fishing. However, although they spend a whole night on the lake, they catch nothing.

As they return to shore, they are challenged by a stranger to cast their net on the right side of the boat. The stranger, of course, is Christ, but although not aware of this, they do as He commands and immediately the net is filled with fish.

he jumps into the sea and swims to the Master

John recognises the stranger as the Lord, and as soon as Simon Peter hears this, he jumps into the sea and swims to the Master. After an early morning breakfast which Christ prepares for them, Peter is challenged three times as to how much he loves Christ.

For thought and contemplation:

Simon Peter, it seems, was evasive in his response to Christ, even after his repentance and return to the disciples’ company. Yet Jesus lovingly persists with His question: “Do you love me?” until Simon Peter finally capitulates. Jesus is asking you the same question now: “Do you love me?” What is your response?

“We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19, NIV)

A bold witness

Acts 2:14-40

now becomes a fearless spokesman for the group

After the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Christian believers are endued with power as Jesus promised (Acts 2:8). Peter, who, prior to this, cowered with the other disciples behind closed doors for fear of the Jews, now becomes a fearless spokesman for the group. He accuses the crowd of complicity in the death of Christ, and asserts that Jesus was murdered by sinful men. How different is Peter’s attitude now from that which he demonstrated during the night of Christ’s trial. Through his inspired sermon, in which he testifies to Jesus as the Messiah who has now ascended into heaven, 3000 people are brought to commit their lives to Christ.

For thought and contemplation:

What can be the explanation of how a cowardly, thrice-denying disciple was turned into a fearless and blazing witness for Christ? There is only one answer: the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Have you received the Spirit’s fullness in your life? If not, then kneel and ask God to fill you to overflowing—today.

“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18, NIV)

The lesson to be learned from Simon Peter

Peter’s blunders, limitations, impulsiveness and human frailty seem to endear him to everyone

It has often been said that while most Christians admire Paul and revere John, every Christian loves Peter. Peter’s blunders, limitations, impulsiveness and human frailty seem to endear him to everyone. He walks on the water with Jesus—and yet “follows at a distance” on land. Yet despite this, we still love him. Perhaps some of the greatest words that are recorded in Scripture are those used by Jesus when addressing the Big Fisherman: “You are… you will be”. We have already touched on them, but they deserve further comment, for they are the hinge on which Peter’s life swings. They open up an understanding of the main lesson of his life, which is this: no matter what we are by nature, with Christ’s help and sustaining grace, we can become the man or woman God wants us to be. Peter was a reed, tossed in the wind… but he became a rock. Something similar can happen to you.

Used with permission: Character by Character compiled by Selwyn Hughes and Trevor Partridge. Copyright © CWR (www.cwr.org.uk).

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