By Alan Griffin
Simon, also named Peter the Apostle, was born Simon Bar-Jonah or Simon son of Jonah, and his name was later shortened to just Peter, which means petros or rock. The first time Jesus met Peter face-to-face He said, “You are Simon the son of Jonah, you shall be called Cephas,” which translates into the word “stone.” From that time on he was called Rock or Peter. This young man named Peter was impulsive, impetuous, and overeager in his nature so the name Jesus gave him was something he would become through the trials and tribulations he encountered as a disciple for Christ. Jesus still called him Simon sometimes when we were exposing his un-degenerated personality.
One of the most wonderful sayings in the Bible is when Jesus said to Peter and Andrew his brother “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Peter and Andrew dropped their nets and followed Jesus, giving up their business, their wives, and their families to follow Christ to the cross. Peter is like a lot of us who turn to Christ. We are so excited to help we rely on our own ability, and with Christ this is impossible. Peter had a lot of good traits to go with the bad ones. He showed initiative and inquisitiveness, but what he lacked was faith. He was bold, decisive, and brave, but when he let his ability take control of his thinking, he would soon discover he had bitten off more than he could chew.
Peter surrendered everything he had to Christ, and he was a man of obedience, but his self-will—trusting in his own wisdom and forbidding Christ to die on the cross—received a very strong rebuke. Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:22-23). At the same time, Peter had the Holy Spirit of God within when Christ asked, “Who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven (Matthew 16:15-17).
Peter at times sought after his own honor even at a cost to other disciples around him. He bragged how he would defend Christ to the death, so Christ revealed to him that he would deny Jesus three times before morning. Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” (Matthew 26:34-35). Jesus tried to show Peter he was living the self-life when He proclaimed, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it (Matthew 16:24-25). We must utterly deny ourselves if we are going to follow Christ.
When Jesus was arrested Peter refused to admit he knew Jesus. He boldly proclaimed, “I have nothing to do with Him; He and I are not friends; I deny having any connection with Him,” and just a few hours before Peter proclaimed, “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be. If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” (Mark 14:29, 31). Many times, this is our own behavior when we are around friends that are not Christians. We are more concerned about what other people think about us than God. We place our own self-interest above what is right, and this, my friend, is what is wrong with the entire world. Self before God.
The self-life is what gives sin its power, and Christ is what gives us the power of God. The pride of the self-life caused the fall of Satan, and if we continue living for ourselves it will cause our fall as well. In the beginning, Lucifer wanted something for himself, he wanted to be above the throne of God, and in the beginning, Eve wanted something for herself, so our parents fell into sin. Through our heritage, we receive the nature of sin, and until we turn away from the life of self, we will all die the death of our spiritual beings. In fact, until we turn to Christ and renounce our own personal intentions, we are all dead in our trespasses and sin.
Now when Peter realized what he had done he went out and cried bitterly. I have been in this exact location in my life, and when I look back, I realize this is when the tremendous change came over me. I stopped living for myself and started living for Christ. Can you imagine what Peter went through the following hours of that night, and the next day when Jesus was beaten and crucified? The pain of his failings must have haunted him severely. Everything he had committed his life to over the last three years was gone. This was the turning point in Peter’s life, and on the first day of the week, Peter saw the resurrected Jesus.
Later, at the lake of Galilee, the disciples sat on the beach one morning and ate fish for breakfast with Jesus, and there beside the fire Christ asked Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You” (John 21:15-17).
Christ took Peter from death to eternal life, and the nature in Peter changed from a self-nature to an eternal and divine nature of God. Some fifty days later at Pentecost, Peter preached one of the most magnificent sermons every given (Acts 2:14-38) and three thousand souls were saved. In 1 Peter we read, “ For this is why you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”
Before Peter denied Christ, he cast out demons and healed the sick, but the power of the flesh was still in him. So, although we have never accomplished such great feats in Christ, even more, are we controlled by the flesh. We see how Christ led Peter to overcome his pride and started to perfect him in his sermon at Pentecost. Jesus is here with me and there with you waiting to perform the same miracle in us that he performed in Peter. He is waiting for you to step aside from your own ability and trust in the ability of almighty God.
Why are there no more blessings in your life? Because we have not given over to the Holy Spirit what is His, our life in complete surrender, and our trust in Christ’s finished work. Dear heavenly Father forgive me for my selfish shortcomings in denying the Holy Spirit His true place in my life. I have allowed my self-life to grieve the Spirit of God, and I stand before You now asking You to remove the self out of my life and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. I cry out to You for forgiveness, Lord. In Jesus Christ’s name, I pray. Amen.
Alan Griffin started the Kindsnchrist ministries in November 1997. He has worked with inner city kids for 21 years. He found a need for specialized Biblical literature that would reach people fo all ages and has been writing since 2005. The ministry has expanded their websites to reach around the world. Kindsnchrist.com, millennialchristian.com, teensnchrist.com, seniorsnchrist.com, picture-verse.com, and soulworks-smallgroups.com. We had an outreach of over 13,000,000 people last year with 36,000,000 impressions. If you have any questions for Alan you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org