The other day I was talking to one of my kids about Peter. God had a plan for Peter and I believe one of the first steps Peter took was the same step we all must first take, a step and decision to follow Jesus.
18 As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.
At this point I can only assume Peter didn’t yet love Jesus, but he was intrigued. I think this is the first step for new believers; to begin following Jesus and building a relationship with him. From here Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. At this time Jesus was also healing every kind of illness. Many lessons were taught and miracles performed, and then there came a time when Peter decides to take a step of faith.
Matthew 14:22-30 (Jesus Walks on the Water)
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Here Peter has seen what he’s seen through his journey of walking with Jesus. He now trusts Jesus enough to go walking on water with him. But then he began to doubt. If Jesus called you out on the water, could you walk along that unpredictable surface with full boldness, any better than Peter did that day?
In fact, I believe we are all called to walk on the water each and every day. I love how this shows how quickly Jesus reached out at the cry of Peter, “immediately Jesus reached out his hand”. I believe through this occurrence, Peter’s trust and love for Jesus only grew in large proportions.
Some time later in his journey, Peter’s faith was put to a major test and his own fear brought failure. Peter denied Jesus three times. After this Peter felt an incredible amount of guilt. After the crucifixion Jesus begins appearing to his disciples and the third time he appears to them he gives Peter the opportunity to express his love.
John 21:15-19 (Jesus Reinstates Peter)
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
Peter definitely went through his ups and downs throughout his walk with Jesus. We see his relationship grow through the gospels and it doesn’t stop there. But at the start of it all it began with one step, the step to follow Jesus. Isn’t it true that in our own relationships with friends and family we naturally begin with first getting to know that person. That first step must be taken. And then another. Eventually you begin to trust them, and you too begin to make personal sacrifices for them as well. I believe it works much the same way with Jesus. And one thing to know wholeheartedly is Jesus is one who can always be trusted, for he paid the penalty for our sins. And the penalty was so mind boggling that many of us avoid the thought of it. Then Easter service comes around. And even though he went through it and we choose not to think about that too often, he still loves us anyways. He is always there even when we are not. We are so undeserving yet there he is at this very moment with open arms, no matter where we are in life.
No matter how many times I make a good choice or a poor choice, I know I have a loving Heavenly Father who has been there every day of my life and invites me to continue growing in my relationship with him. And he wants the same for everyone. It all begins with one step. Get to know him, then begin to trust him and finally, love him with all your heart, soul, strength and mind. Believe me, loving him comes easy once you get to know him and once you find him. And this will happen and here’s why I can say this, because the Bible says it. Jeremiah 29:13 says this, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” And this truth is found again and again throughout scripture. Learn more about what the Bible says about seeking God.
And whether you have already found him or are barely beginning to seek him, I hope you can find comfort knowing He will be with you every step of the way. And when you experience his love, his grace, you will also experience an inexpressible joy. And if it happens to be a first time for you, chances are your life will be forever changed.