Early each morning, this man would rise before the sun to prepare for his daily work; nothing unusual for any man living in the area. He was one of many who made their living from the sea. Many times he’d fish through the night if he hadn’t had success during the day. When he arrived home his clothing was covered with fish blood, sweat and the smell of the open air. His face was leathered by the sun and tiny wrinkles crept around his eyes from straining them against the reflections of the sea. Some days were better than others, but his diligence and perseverance were attributes that would equip him for the road ahead.
Being a fisherman in Galilee required more than ten hours a day. Fishermen were considered low class citizens, because of the raucous lifestyle and often bad language. They were tough under pressure, especially when faced with windstorms that could capsize a small fishing boat. Paul had a tendency to be outspoken, quick to act and was very bold.
When Jesus approached him that day, to become part of his band of apostles, he had no reason to change his lifestyle. He was satisfied doing what he did. He made decent wages, but there was something about this man that captivated him. Jesus said, “Follow me,” and Peter followed willingly, leaving his wife, goods and business behind.
His boldness often got him into trouble as he found himself putting his foot into his mouth more than once. He was well aware of his sin and knew he needed salvation, but he seemed to be immediately aware that he was standing face to face with Him at that first meeting. Later he told Jesus he would never leave Him and would even die for Him, but as soon as Jesus was arrested, He ran away in fear. In the courtyard of the Sanhedrin, Peter denied knowing Jesus, just as had been predicted at the Passover Feast the night before.
We are all a lot like Peter. His name was Simon originally, but Jesus changed it to Peter (Petros – Greek for rock.) Jesus knew that Peter would have a strong, rock solid faith and become a great evangelist for His kingdom, but Peter was just a sinner, like you and me. Even though zealous for the Lord, he had his moments of weakness, just like we do. In the end, his sin of denial was forgiven along with every other sin in this world. Jesus did that, not just for Peter, but for all of us. No sin is too great to escape His compassion.
Peter went on to build Christendom by spreading the news of the Gospel throughout the land – first to the Jews, then the Gentiles. God provided a vision indicating that Peter should preach to all, including the uncircumcised. Through that vision at Joppa, Peter realized that nothing created by God was unclean and that through Jesus’ death and resurrection, sin had been washed away, entitling everyone to forgiveness.
After Pentecost, his zeal for the Great Commission was evident. He was indeed a missionary for Jesus and helped to build the Christian church and dying a martyr’s death.
Like Peter, we tend to try and control things in our lives, when only God knows what our future holds. At times we lack the faith to depend on Him, but even when we are weak, He is strong and gives us the victory over death. No sin is beyond Him. When Jesus died, He carried all the filthiness of this world on His back and took it to the cross in our place.