Peter’s Change: Loving the Lord 

February: MATTHEW 4; LUKE 4-5

In the Gospel of Matthew, Simon Peter’s call to the ministry seems quite straightforward. Jesus is walking by the Sea of Galilee and sees four fishermen and says, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Then Matthew says, “they straightway left their nets, and followed him.” (Matthew 4:18-22)  

In Luke, we learn more of what happened just before Peter agreed to follow Christ, which reveals much more about Peter and our own journey of learning to love the Savior. Jesus has begun his ministry, been baptized, heals the sick, and is cast out of Nazareth for declaring he is the prophesied Messiah.  

People were thronging to be healed and listen to Jesus’s teachings on the shore of Galilee, right where Peter and Andrew were fishing. James and John, the brothers of Zebedee, were on the shore mending their nets after a night of unsuccessful fishing. To better teach the people, Jesus asks Peter to board his boat and row out a little so he can speak to the whole multitude. Andrew and John were previously with John the Baptist when he declared his divinity, so it is likely Peter may have heard his brother’s story of the Messiah. Still, there is evidence that Peter may not have been fully convinced. 

After finishing his sermon, Jesus said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets.”  Simon called Peter answered, “Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing; nevertheless, at thy word, I will let down the net.” In essence, he agrees simply to prove Christ wrong. Once the net was in the water, “a great multitude of fishes” were caught in the net, so much that the brothers Zebedee had to fill their boat also, and still it was almost more than both boats could hold. Seeing this miracle, Peter falls down at the Savior’s feet and says, “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” (Luke 5:3-8) 

What a contrast from Nathanael’s reaction to finding the Lord when he thought “nothing good could come out of Nazareth,” but Philip his friend asks him to “Come and see.” Nathanael does see and says, “Rabbi, thou are the Son of God.” (John 1:43-51) Instead of focusing on the Savior, the guilt-ridden Peter is focused on his own sin. At least he still follows Christ. 

Soon after this, Peter’s mother-in-law is healed, he sees many miracles and is taught at the Savior’s knee. Over the next three years, Peter changes and nowhere is that change clearer than in another boating experience soon after Christ’s resurrection. 

Jesus had returned to the upper room and then again eight days later for “doubting” Thomas. We are not told how often Jesus is with his apostles, but he had left them for a time when Peter and some other of the apostles were together on the shores of Galilee. Peter says, “I go a fishing.” His friends join him, and he is again unsuccessful at catching anything. They see someone on the shore who tells them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat. They do and the identical huge catch is the result. John tells Peter, “It is the Lord.” Peter throws on his shirt and dives into the water, swimming his fastest to join his Savior. He no longer wants to push the Lord away; instead, his only desire is to be near Him. (John 21:2-8) 

Peter still had a lot of weaknesses. He demanded that the Lord wash all of him during the feet washing at the last supper, he cut off the soldier’s ear and denied the Christ three times during his trial. Yet all that guilt was washed away by the atonement and Peter had learned the greatest lesson the gospel has to give us. That as we love the Lord with all our hearts, everything else falls into place. That’s not to say that Peter because perfect overnight. He argues with Paul and has to have a vision where he is forced to eat creepy crawly things in order to expand his mind to allow the gentiles to be taught the gospel. But even with his imperfections, he has learned what we must all learn to truly utilize the atonement and that is the first and great commandment. “Love the Lord with all your heart, might, mind and strength.” (Matthew 22:37)  

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s