A follower of the Lord Jesus Christ
There are over twenty recorded junctures where the life of Simon Peter intersects with the Lord Jesus Christ. In each of these, we see the interaction of the man called Peter with whom we all, at times, like to identify.
We begin with his introduction to the Lord Jesus. Usually when two people meet for the first time, each person identifies himself. Not so in the unique introduction of the Lord and Simon. When Andrew brought Simon to the Lord, it was the Lord who identified Simon, saying, “‘You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas’ which is translated, a Stone” (Jn. 1:42).
This profound identity is not who Simon is, but who he will become and what he will be. The Lord Jesus gave Simon a new name. He stated, “You shall be called Cephas.” Later He said, “You shall be called Peter” (Mt. 16:18), which means a rock. A stone, a rock—these are what Simon would become.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Stone and the Rock. You can find a complete listing of the stone image titles given to the Lord Jesus in the New Testament. He is the Living Stone, the Chosen Stone, the Chief Cornerstone, the Elect Stone, the Rejected Stone, the Stumbling Stone, and the Rock of Offense. These are listed by none other than Simon Peter himself (1 Pet. 2:4-8).
When he met the Savior, a work began in Simon’s life to make him more and more like the Lord. This work of conforming us to the image of Christ is a work that the Spirit begins in each of us the moment we trust the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior. One day we shall see Him as He is and we will be like Him (1 Jn. 3:1). What a hope is ours. It is, as Peter calls it, “a living hope” (1 Pet. 1:3).
Upon meeting the Lord, Simon was called to follow Him. Through the rest of the Gospels, we can trace the footsteps of the heavenly Man and watch as Simon, follower of Christ, strives to keep up. He began following the Lord along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. He was called, along with Andrew, James, and John, to become a fisher of men.
One day, the Lord Jesus sat in a boat—Simon’s boat. He asked him to put out a little from the land. After teaching the multitudes, the Lord told Simon to launch out into the deep for a catch (Lk. 5:1-11). They made a great catch of fish. Simon was caught, too. Convicted by his sinfulness, he fell at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” The Lord calmed his fears and redirected his fishing skills to catch men. On the best day of fishing they had ever had, they forsook all and followed Him (Lk. 5:11).
Peter sought to follow the Lord, even if it meant rocking the boat. On the storm-tossed sea, Simon heard Him say, “Come,” and, with his eyes fixed on Jesus and enough faith to venture overboard, he stepped out onto the sea. His eye began to wander, his feet began to sink, his heart began to fear, and he cried out, “Lord, save me!” The Lord said, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” His little faith got him out of the boat, into the deep water, and safe into the arms of Jesus (Mt. 14:22-31).
Peter, James, and John followed the Lord from sea level up to a high mountain. There the Lord Jesus was transfigured before them and Moses and Elijah appeared. We read that the disciples awoke and were greatly afraid. Peter spoke, not knowing what he said. While he was speaking, there came a divine interruption. God spoke from the cloud that overshadowed them saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Lk. 9:35). Peter writes of this experience saying, “We did not follow cunningly devised fables…but were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Pet. 1:16).
Throughout their time together, Simon Peter had some questions to ask the Lord. Seven questions, if my count is correct. One of those questions was about the rewards for following the Savior. A rich, young ruler had just turned his back and walked away from an offer of treasure in heaven if he would take up his cross and follow Christ. Peter said to the Lord, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore, what shall we have?” (Mt. 19:27). The Lord Jesus assured Peter that it would be worth it all.
Peter followed the Lord right up to the last day of our Lord’s life on earth. In the upper room, the Lord began to wash the disciples’ feet. He came to Simon Peter, who refused. In simple terms, the Lord explained that clean feet were required to follow Him (Jn. 13:1-17). Peter’s initial refusal turned into a request—for a bath! But the Lord corrected him again. There was no need for a bath, just a basin, water, and a towel. Feet that follow Him must be washed.
It was that night that the Lord warned Simon what was ahead. “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat” (Lk. 22:31-32). From there, Simon went astray. He was heading for a fall. He took seven downward steps.
1. Peter said, “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be” (Mk. 14:29-31). Peter boasted when he should have been listening.
2. From there they followed the Lord to Gethsemane. Christ left His disciples to pray and returned to find them sleeping (Mk. 14:32-41). Peter slept when he should have been praying.
3. The mob came to take Jesus into custody, and Peter drew his sword and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest (Jn. 18:10). Peter fought when he should have been trusting.
4. They led Jesus away from Gethsemane, but Peter followed at a distance (Mk. 14:54a). Peter drew back when he should have been drawing close.
5. Peter followed into the courtyard of the high priest and sat by the fire (Mk. 14:54b). Peter sat when he should have been standing.
6. One of the servant girls of the high priest saw him and said, “You were with Jesus of Nazareth.” But he denied it and said, “I neither know nor understand what you are saying” (Mk. 14:66-68). This happened twice. Peter denied when he should have been owning.
7. Lastly, others who stood by said, “Surely you are one of them for you are a Galilean, and your speech shows it.” Peter began to curse and swear saying, “I do not know this Man of whom you speak” (Mk. 14:71). Peter cursed when he should have been confessing.
At that point, a rooster crowed, just as the Lord had said, and Christ looked over at Peter and their eyes met. Peter went out and wept bitterly.
Peter had fallen. Was there a way back? Oh, yes! For the Lord had anticipated that, too, and had comforted Peter in advance: “When you are restored, strengthen the brethren” (Lk. 22:32).
After the Lord’s resurrection, He met with Simon Peter. He spoke to Peter of his death and encouraged him saying, “Follow Me” (Jn. 21:19). Having just been restored, Peter turned around and saw John following the Lord. He asked, “But Lord, what about this man?” Simon had taken his eyes off the Lord and put them on John. The Lord’s answer to Peter should echo in our hearts today, “What is that to you? You follow Me” (Jn. 21:22).
It is no wonder that Simon Peter, follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, wrote in his epistles of the things that he learned. Not surprisingly, he sets forth the challenge saying, “that you should follow His steps” (1 Pet. 2:21)!