We kicked off our first official Community Bible Study session this morning and we couldn’t be more excited about it! God has brought together a fantastic group of ladies who are anxious to study His Word together. This next series of blog posts will be all about 1 and 2 Peter. If you’re planning on following along in your book, which can be picked up at First Baptist Church or ordered from this link on Amazon, fantastic! If you just want to follow along with the blog and your Bible, that’s great too! This study is meant for everyone, so join right in!
We’ll start by taking a look at our author, Simon Peter. Jesus always seems to take the least likely characters and do great, life-changing things with them. Peter was a lowly fisherman when Jesus found him. In Matthew 4:18-22 we find Peter and his brother Andrew fishing on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus walks up to them and commands them to follow Him. I always thought it was a little odd that two fishermen would immediately leave their careers, homes and families to follow a man they’d never met and knew nothing about. It just never quite made sense to me. So as I studied this story, I was amazed to find out that there is MORE to the story than meets the eye!
It’s easy to assume that this encounter was Peter’s first encounter with Jesus when in fact, their first meeting is recorded in John 1:35-42. Peter’s brother Andrew had been a disciple of John the Baptist. (Remember him? He was preparing the way for Jesus to come.) One day Andrew met Jesus and immediately went and got Peter to introduce the two of them. From that point on, Peter and Andrew began to believe in what Jesus was doing. They watched him do ministry, work miracles, teach the truth. And then one day, Matthew 4:18-22 happened. After they had lived a little bit of life as believers in what He was doing, Jesus called them to leave everything they knew and follow Him. It wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision after all. It was a calculated choice. They knew what they were doing and they deliberately chose to leave everything to follow Him.
Later we see Peter walking on the water (Matthew 14:28-29), confessing Jesus as Christ and becoming the rock on which Jesus would build The Church (Matthew 16:15). Things seem to be rocking right along for old Peter when Jesus breaks some troubling news to him. Matthew 26 documents when Jesus tells Peter that soon Peter will deny even knowing Christ, not just once or twice, but three times. Peter can’t believe that would ever be possible. He’s a sold-out Christ-follower! But sure enough, Peter denies Jesus three times. Just when we’re tempted to think that Peter has committed the unthinkable, unforgivable sin, in swoops Jesus, ready to restore their relationship.
John 21:15-19 shows an intimate conversation between Peter and Jesus after the Resurrection. Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him. Peter responds with the equivalent of “Yes, Lord, you know that I like you.” This continues two more times. It’s an intimate exchange where Jesus shows Peter how deep His love is for him and how he wants Peter to love Him in return. Jesus wants to really drive home to Peter that they have a love-relationship and that he is fully redeemed, despite his previous denial of Christ.
Peter’s call to discipleship came in three different ways. The first call Peter received was a general call to follow Jesus as a believer (John 1:35-42). Peter became acquainted with Jesus, saw him performing miracles and heard him teaching. He came to believe that Jesus really was the long awaited Messiah. The second call Peter received was a specific call to follow Jesus as a disciple (Matthew 4:18-22, Luke 5:4). Jesus called Peter to follow Him. Peter dropped his nets and left his business and his family to follow Jesus. This call required real sacrifice for Peter. He was willing to count everything as loss for the sake of knowing Christ. The final call Peter received was a personal call to follow Jesus as an apostle (Matthew 10:1-4, 16:15). Jesus named Peter as one of the Twelve Apostles. (Apostle means “one who is sent” in reference to the spread of the Gospel.) Peter was “sent out” to spread the Gospel first to the Jews, then to the Gentiles.
In the same way, God calls each one of us to discipleship. The first call we receive is similar to Peter’s – a general call to follow Jesus as a believer. Romans 10:9-10 says that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. Maybe you’ve already answered that call. You believe in Jesus, confess your sins, proclaim Jesus as your Savior. But the next step is still looming before you.
The second call to discipleship is a specific call to follow Jesus as a disciple (Matthew 16:24-25). Peter left everything for the sake of Christ. Most of the time God is not going to require us to leave our homes, our families, our jobs in order to follow him. But when you look into your heart, are those things off limits to God or does he have unlimited authority over all parts of your life? Is there anything in your life that is off-limits to Him? As you grow in your relationship with Christ, the Holy Spirit convicts you of sin and challenges you to let go of the things of this world, making you more and more like Jesus Christ. A disciple is one who continues to follow, even when sacrifice is required. Have you taken that next step to give Jesus a “yes” answer, even before he asks the question?
The final call to discipleship to believers today is a personal call to follow Jesus as a member of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27-31). God’s plan for The Church is that we would function as ONE body with many members. Each of us plays an important role in The Church. Be sure to find a Bible-teaching, Christ-worshiping group of believers to join to continue to make disciples.
Decide where you fall in answering the call of Jesus in your life. Have you answered the general call to follow Jesus as a believer? Have you taken the next step to deny yourself of world pleasure and success to follow Him? Are you certain of your specific place in The Church? Ask God to show you – He will do it! Strive to reach the next phase in your walk with Him. And through studying the life of an old fisherman, we will be encouraged to see that God is in the business of redeeming even the most unredeemable of us. He promises to remove our sins as far as the east is from the west and make us new creations in Him. What precious promises!
This week we’ll be thinking about the way God changed Peter from the “Old Peter” to the “New Peter”. We’ll answer these questions:
1. Why do you think God chose Peter as a leader for His church?
2. Can you cite an example of trials developing faith and maturity in your life or the life of a friend or relative?
3. What connections might there be between Peter’s emphasis on growing through trials in his first letter and being wary of false teachers in his second letter?
Check back next week for more on 1 Peter!