Category Archives: First Peter

Peter’s Denial

Studies in First Peter

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:1 ESV)

Luke 54-60 – Parallel Passages: Matt. 26:31-35, 69-75; Mark 14:27-31, 66-72; John 13:37-38; 18:15-18, 25-27

Peter may be the leader of the group of disciples but he represented every person in his actions at Jesus’ arrest. Do his arrogant boasts of following Christ to prison and death represent all Christians? Do his rash reactions, like swinging a sword and cutting off the ear of one of the people who came to arrest Jesus, represent all Christians? Does his running away when confronted by the world represent all Christians? Peter, and the other disciples, abandoned Christ, just as He said they would. Only Mark and Matthew tell us Jesus’ disciples ran away in fear. “And they all left him and fled” (Mark 14:50 ESV; see Matthew 26:56). Jesus had already predicted that those who were with Him would scatter. During His last the Passover celebration He taught them about Himself and the coming of the Holy Spirit. He was leaving them and going back to His Father.

Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:32-33 ESV)

Jesus also tells them that their abandoning Him was prophesied long ago. “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered’” (Mark 14:27 ESV; see Zechariah 13:7). Zechariah wrote his prophecy over 500 years earlier. Jesus does not condemn His disciples for what they will do but encourages them to not allow their fallen nature to overcome them. He tells them to take heart for He has overcome the world.

Peter, and those with him, will run away. We must be honest with ourselves, we would probably run away also, under the same circumstances. I would probably run away. One of characteristics of the fallen nature is the tug and pull away from righteousness even when the image of God within drives toward Him who is righteous. We are afraid of the world and have such little or nonexistent faith in God that when the world rears its violent head we may fight for a moment but eventually flee. No one, in and of themselves, is strong enough to stand against the force of the world directed by the venomous lies of the Deceiver. Only God is strong. We do not overcome the world. Jesus overcomes the world. We must be driven to the place where we recognize His strength in us under His control. This is what happens with Peter and the other disciples.

Once Jesus was arrested Peter and John followed at a distance. We assume John went because John records what happens. John is known to the High Priest and helps bring Peter into the courtyard where Jesus is being interrogated. Three times Peter is asked about his relationship with Jesus and three times he denies knowing Him.

Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. Then a servant girl, seeing him as he sat in the light and looking closely at him, said, “This man also was with him.” But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know him.”

And a little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not.”

And after an interval of about an hour still another insisted, saying, “Certainly this man also was with him, for he too is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. (Luke 22:54-60 ESV).

Three times in an hour, Peter denied knowing Christ even though he was the leader of the disciples. Two things happened. Jesus who was enduring the derisive grilling of those who hated Him turned and looked at Peter. Jesus knew Peter was there because Jesus was aware of everything that was happening and that would happen. “And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:61-62 ESV). When Peter realized what he had done he broke down and wept. He saw the emptiness of his boasting and his actions grieved him.

Our sin and the realization of the consequences of our sin, should drive us to grief. But the life of the Christian does not stop with grief and mourning. Peter did not fade away but became the leader of the Church, the Body of Christ. Peter may have momentarily abandoned Jesus but Jesus will never abandon him, or us. Though Satan asked to sift him, and God gave Satan permission to do so, Jesus still prayed for Peter and told him what to do once the trial was over. “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32 ESV). Peter would live out his life in faith doing exactly what Christ instructed. Peter would strengthen all those who follow Christ throughout the ages.

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Peter’s Denial of Christ

Studies in First Peter

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:1 ESV)

Luke 22:31-34, 54-62 (see also Matthew 26:31-35, 69-75; Mark 14:27-31, 66-72; John 13:37-38; 18:15-18, 25-27

It is the night before Jesus’ trial and crucifixion. Jesus knows what will happen in a few hours, having foreseen His coming trial, execution and resurrection. For this reason He came as a man. He and His disciples are eating the Passover meal. Passover is a physical representation of a spiritual reality. God instituted the Passover as an annual celebration, so the Jews would remember when He brought their nation out of Egypt. God instructed the Jews to eat the first Passover meal before the last plague to strike the nation of Egypt and before Pharaoh before released the Jewish people. When the Angel of death passed over the land, He struck down the first born of all who had not covered the doorposts of their homes with the blood of a sacrificed lamb.

For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. (Exodus 12:12-13 ESV)

God knew what He was going to do from creation and the fall of Adam and Eve, and systematically told His people and the world the events that would accomplish His redemption of those who are His. Passover is an annual reminder that God has redeemed those who are His by the blood of His Son. Jesus celebrated the Passover with His disciples before He became the sacrificed Passover lamb whose blood covers those redeemed by God.

During the meal Jesus predicted Peter’s denial of his relationship with Him. Jesus used Peter’s given name twice. Then He tells us something we could never know had He not divulged the facts. Satan had demanded from God that it might tempt Peter. “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat”  (Luke 22:31 ESV). Demanded means to be given over for torture or punishment. Satan is concentrating its strength on the leader of the disciples in an attempt to destroy the continuity Jesus had built into the group over the years of His ministry. Like Job, Satan wanted to tempt and try Peter to see if his faith was real or a fabrication. Like Job, God gave permission for Satan to do its work (see Job 1:6-22 and 2:1-10).

Jesus does not leave Peter to his own strengths. Faith is a conduit God uses, through which God delivers all the tools needed to live for God in a world that hates God and persecutes Christians. Jesus tells Peter that “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32 ESV). Jesus’ prayer is eternally powerful. Though Peter must endure the assaults and attacks of the enemy, through the strength provided by God, he will endure. If Peter had to rely upon his own strength, his failure was assured. Peter received God’s strength in him under God’s control. He would fall because of his sin, but would rise again to work for God because of God’s strength. Knowing this, Jesus gave Peter his marching orders. His purpose was to strengthen your brothers, all those who follow Christ and must endure the assaults of the Deceiver.

In Peter’s mind and heart there was no possibility of him rejecting Jesus. Peter made a brash statement, boasting of something he would soon regret.  This is a characteristic of very person who tries to live for Christ using their own human strength and wisdom. “Peter said to him, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death’” (Luke 22:33 ESV). Peter declared he was ready to die for Christ. He heard Jesus tell them they must pick up their crosses and follow Him. Having followed Jesus this far, he was convinced of his willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice for Jesus.

Jesus, knowing the hearts of men, allows for temporary failure to build eternal success. Jesus knows what will actually happen because He is God and knows all things. “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me” (Luke 22:34 ESV). Roosters do not just crow as day is breaking but while it is still dark in the early morning hours. Peter, adamantly convinced he would never forsake Jesus, denied he knew Jesus three times before the rooster crowed, while it was still dark.

This prediction must have devastated Peter’s sensibilities. He could easily have been angry and hurt by what Jesus told him. In his mind and heart, he would do what he said he would do. When Jesus was arrested, it was Peter who struck the servant of the High Priest with a sword. “Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) So Jesus said to Peter, ‘Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?’” (John 18:10-11 ESV). Peter was rebuked by Jesus, even after being told to bring a sword, because he used the sword. His discouragement and confusion must have been great.

But Peter had already heard Jesus’ words. He may not have remembered them until later. “But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32 ESV). God used his failings to prepare him for greater service.

The Presence of the Master

Studies in First Peter

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:1 ESV)

Matthew 14:31-33

It would seem to most Christians that Jesus said this little phrase often. “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31 ESV). Jesus uses a word translated little faith, which means one who trusts too little, or small faith. He uses this word six times in the Gospels. The word is a combination of two words, puny or short and faith, or the conviction that something is true, to believe and trust.

On a previous occasion Jesus and His disciples were going across the same lake. A storm arose and began rocking the boat while Jesus slept peacefully in the stern. How could anyone sleep in a small boat with 12 other people during a storm? Jesus had complete peace with God and was unafraid because He knew He was in no danger. The men rowing, however, were deathly afraid. Those of the twelve who were fishermen knew the sea and the violence they faced because of the natural elements of wind and rain and rough seas. They were afraid for a reason. So, they woke Jesus, asking Him to save them because they thought they were going to die. “And he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?’ Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm” (Matthew 8:26 ESV).

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaks about believing God will take care of those who are His. God cares for His creation and people are much more valuable to Him than the other things He created. “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Matthew 6:30 ESV; see also Luke 12:28). God provides until He calls into eternity.

On another occasion, the disciples, who were hungry, discussed why they had forgotten to bring anything to eat. Jesus had already fed 5,000 and another 4,000 people. He provided life, more than bread and food ever could. “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread?” (Matthew 16:8 ESV).

Faith is the conduit through which God delivers the tools needed to obey Him to those who are His, who live in a world rebelling against Him. Through faith His disciples could do the impossible. After Jesus transfiguration, He and three disciples came down the mountain to a scene where the other disciples could not heal a young boy possessed by a demon. Jesus quickly cast out the demon. His disciples asked Him why they could not do what He had just done. His answer is a mild rebuke. “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17:20 ESV). Jesus had already given them authority to cast out demons (see Matthew 10:1). They rejoiced that the demons obeyed them. Why could they not cast out a demon here? Because of little faith.

Faith is vital to a growing relationship with God. Jesus shows He is God every time He does a miracle, heals a person of a sickness or casts out a demon. Jesus has dominion over His creation. “And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased” (Matthew 14:32 ESV). Jesus also fulfilled prophecy found in the Hebrew Scripture.

Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.(Psalm 107:28-30 ESV)

All of the evidence tells us Jesus is God who came as a sinless man and walked and lived and died among a people. Jesus’ resurrection is the greatest evidence that He is God and that people must obey His word. Faith is taking Jesus at His word. For a moment in their lives, after a great fear, seeing a great deed, one of many in a long line of times of fear and seeing great things, they believed and had faith. Abraham had a moment of faith and God blessed him, counting His faith as righteousness. “And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6 ESV). Abraham’s faith was for a moment, during a lifetime of rebellion. When Jesus entered the boat after walking on water the disciples worshipped Him. “And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God’” (Matthew 14:33 ESV). Worshipping anything other than God is idolatry. Jesus accepted their worship. God had, once again, shown the disciples that their teacher, Jesus, was the Son of God.

Peter’s Bold Request

Studies in First Peter

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:1 ESV)

Matthew 14:22-33

Jesus walked on the lake during the storm, in the early morning, acting as if He would pass them by. His disciples thought He was a ghost and were afraid of what they saw. “But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid’” (Matthew 14:27 ESV).  When Jesus spoke to them, they did not recognize Him, even as He walked toward them in the early morning light because they were not expecting Him to walk on water. He told them to take heart, that is, to cheer up and be courageous. Then He commanded they not fear Him or be alarmed at what they saw.

At first, Peter did not believe he was hearing Jesus speak. He uses the word if, the same word used by Satan during Jesus’ temptation. If is part of an “if-then” statement. Logically, if and action is true then its consequence is also true. If you put your hand in a fire then you will be burned. If you jump into the lake then you will get wet. So, Satan demanded Jesus prove His divinity. “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread” (Matthew 4:3 ESV). If you really are the Son of God, feed yourself because you are hungry. Do a miracle. “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down” (Matthew 4:6 ESV), then your angels, whom you command, will come rescue you. Satan then suggests that it owns the world and can give it to whomever it pleases. “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me” (Matthew 4:9 ESV). If you worship me then I will reward you. In each instance Satan challenges Jesus’ divine power. It knows who Jesus is and, in typical rebellious fashion, sought to undermine and destroy Jesus’ authority.

Peter was not sure it was Jesus. He could see Him and hear Him. Peter had seen Jesus perform miracles. But, his natural self was unsure.  “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water” (Matthew 14:28 ESV). There was no intent to undermine Jesus’ position or authority. Peter needed proof Jesus was there. If it is you, then I, too, can walk on water. Peter didn’t want to be afraid. In normal Peter fashion, he went to the extreme. He was learning that Jesus never asked people to do His will. He commanded they obey. When Jesus called Peter and the others, He did not ask them to follow Him. He commanded they follow Him. When He healed people and cast demons out of people, it was by His command. Peter, knowing this, asked Jesus to direct him to walk on water. He knew he could do the impossible only at the direction of God.

Jesus called Peter to come to Him and, like the call to follow Jesus after the miraculous catch of fish, Peter immediately complied. “He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus” (Matthew 14:29 ESV). None of the others asked to get out of the boat and follow Peter. Only Peter exited the boat and stepped out onto the water, walking toward the Man he served. Peter walked on water.

But then Peter became distracted by his surroundings. He, the fisherman who intimately knew the lake, saw the danger of the lake and became afraid. He was not afraid of Jesus. He was afraid of the world. “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me’” (Matthew 14:30 ESV). Peter doubted that he could actually do that which he was doing. He did not doubt Jesus. He doubted himself. He took his gaze off the One he followed and focused his attention on the impossibility of the action in which he was engaged.

Peter began to sink. He’s knows how to swim. The seas are rough and wind is strong. He had been doing the impossible. His fear stopped his faith. Faith is believing the evidence of the work of God, trusting the object and obeying the command. Peter saw Jesus walk on water, trusted that he, too, could walk on water and obeyed the command to walk on water. Then, he stopped believing and trusting Jesus and was unable to obey. Jesus didn’t change. His trustworthiness was not compromised. He commanded Peter do the impossible so His direction was not unreasonable. Peter’s faith ceased, he became afraid, and sank. If he had drowned it would have been because of his unnecessary fear and panic.

Jesus reached out and saved Peter from a situation that was neither dangerous or unreasonable. “Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’” (Matthew 14:31 ESV). Jesus recognized Peter’s faith became distracted and useless because of his doubt. Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus recognized Peter’s leadership and constantly challenged him. He groomed Peter, holding him to a high standard. He holds all those who follow Him to the same high standard.

Jesus Walking on Water

Studies in First Peter

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:1 ESV)

Matthew 14:22-33

What seems impossible to us is easily done by God. God may give us visions of great things, followed by a command to carry them out. Most often, we talk ourselves out of doing anything because of the enormity of the task and our lack of faith in God. Either that, or we are just lazy and don’t want the work. However, some may begin to work, in their own strength. And then the great things envisioned become impossibilities, surrounded by impossible circumstances. What is impossible for us is merely commonplace for God. He places us in impossible times so we will rely completely upon His strength and not upon our own, and so we will know He has accomplished the task through us.

There are a number of stories found in all four Gospels. One of those stories is the feeding of the five thousand. Jesus asked His disciples to feed the crowd of people who had come to hear Him teach. “They need not go away; you give them something to eat” (Matthew 14:16 ESV; Mark 6:37; Luke 9:13; John 6:5). After miraculously feeding the five thousand, Jesus sends away His disciples in a boat and He climbs a mountain to pray. Coming down from the mountain, Jesus sees there is a pounding storm and high waves on the lake. His disciples are fighting in their boat against waves that are tossing them around. “But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary” (Matthew 14:24 ESV). Peter, Andrew, James and John are there, experienced fishermen, who intimately knew the lake and the weather that roiled the waves and the sea.

Daylight is coming. The fourth watch of the night is just before sunrise. It is no longer dark and the disciples can see in the gloaming light the fury of the storm. They also see Jesus walking on the lake. Or, they see something coming toward them on top of the water. In the natural world, following the natural laws emplaced by God, all objects not designed to float will sink in water. Boats, designed by people to float will sink when the structure is damaged and no longer does what it was created to do. Some birds, created by God, sit on top of the water and swim, floating and moving about. What the men saw was a shape of an object they knew was not designed to float.

Gripped by fear of the unknown, they thought they were seeing a ghost. “And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear” (Matthew 14:26 ESV). This troubled them, agitated by the fear of the unknown and anxious for their own safety. They were superstitious, thinking what they saw was an apparition or specter, a ghost or phantom. A ghost is the essence of a person after they die. A dead person was approaching them and they dreaded the encounter. Contained in a boat on rough seas, far from shore, they had nowhere to run or escape from that which was approaching them.

Did they not know their Master? How He looked? How He walked? His mannerisms and shape? Jesus was walking on the water, doing something their minds could not conceive as possible. But, hadn’t they seen Him do miracles? Had He not just fed over 5,000 men, and women and children, from a pitiful, handful of bread and fish? Jesus was doing the impossible. They still did not know who He was, though all the evidence pointed to His being the Creator of the world.

When Man, Adam and Eve, was created, they were given dominion over the earth. “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26 ESV). Dominion means control, to rule over and tread down.  Just as God had control over the universe, He created Man as His authority to have control over the earth, not just over those living things on the planet. The whole of the planet was under their authority and control.

Jesus’ walking on water was an exhibition of His authority and control over the earth. He, who is eternal God, came as a physical Man, having all of the qualities and characteristics of man the way God originally intended. Jesus was a Servant of God being found in the form and likeness of a man. “Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form” (Philippians 2:5-8 ESV). He walked on water because He was in control.

Peter Following Jesus

Studies in First Peter

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:1 ESV)

Luke 5:1-11

Peter feared Jesus and what He represented. Even though Peter had not thought through all of the implications of Jesus’ commands, telling him to fish and then catching fish when the should not have, and how His presence would affect his life and world, Peter intuitively feared Jesus. This fear of the unknown is normal for all people. Fear, in Greek, means to put to flight and flee, to be seized with alarm and startled. In Scripture, fear also means to hold with reverence, to venerate, to treat with honor and deference. Peter’s reaction to Jesus included all of the above feelings. How do we know Peter was afraid? Jesus told Peter to not be afraid. “And Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men’” (Luke 5:10 ESV). Jesus did not want Peter and those with him to be alarmed and run away but to follow Him.

God wants those He created in His image to fear Him but to not be afraid of Him. They are to honor Him as God. He created people for relationship, so they might be with Him, not run away from Him. While the image of God in people draws people toward Him, sin drives them away in a panic. Sin causes people to be afraid of God. After Adam and Eve rebelled against God they hid themselves when He came to enjoy His creation.

Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:7-8 ESV).

God does not want people to hide themselves from Him but to comfortably and naturally come into His presence because He loves them. Part of the image of God given is the desire to serve in the full capacity for which we were created. Jesus came as a complete, perfect Man and did that for which man was created. He served God and all people created by God. His presence on earth is the bridge God uses to draw a rebellious people back into His presence. Those who respond in obedience, even while fighting the urge to run and rebel, are changed and given the image of Christ as well as the uncorrupted image of God. “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:29 ESV). He became like us so we may be made like Him.

Jesus called these men to follow Him. He did not ask them to come and follow Him. According to Luke, Jesus never actually said the words “follow me” as He does in other gospels. “While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him” (Matthew 4:18-20 ESV; see Mark 1:17). Jesus’ call is not a suggestion. He commands all people follow Him. Those who do not obey His command are in outright rebellion against God.

Instead of catching fish with nets they would catch people with the gospel. While they would remain fishermen, occasionally returning to their occupation, their main focus is to intimately know Jesus Christ, to learn about God’s grace and mercy and then present to those they encounter the gift of Jesus Christ. To do this, Jesus begins training them by instructing them to follow Him wherever He goes.

Their response to Jesus’ simple command is profound. They saw people flock to Jesus, enthralled by His teaching. These same crowds of people were still present when Jesus did the unimaginable, showing His dominion over creation. They caught fish when and where they should not have caught anything. Peter, the obvious leader of this group of fishermen, reacted in fear while the rest felt astonishment. “And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him” (Luke 5:10-11 ESV).

They left everything. Toward the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, Jesus talked about how hard it is for anyone to be saved, but that all things are possible with God. Peter reminds Jesus that he left everything to follow Him. “And Peter said, ‘See, we have left our homes and followed you’” (Luke 18:28 ESV). Peter was married. Did he have children? Did not his family depend upon him for support? When he followed Jesus, did he discuss it with his wife first? We do not know the answers to these and many more questions. We do know that following Jesus demands we abandon that which is in and of the world. By the end of his life, Peter showed he was willing to die for Christ. He left everything and followed Jesus.

Peter’s Reaction

Studies in First Peter

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:1 ESV)

Luke 5:1-11

Peter witnessed a miracle. Jesus told Peter to fish in a place and at a time Peter knew there would be no fish. Some have suggested Jesus saw a shoal of fish just out in deep water. He saw the fish but the trained eyes of the fishermen standing with Him could not see them because of their exhaustion. Yet, the phenomena of actually catching fish, so many their nets were breaking, suggests not quick observance but a control over nature. One of the characteristics of the image of God in man is dominion. God gave Adam, and Adam’s progeny, dominion over the earth. God’s image in the people He created is not degraded and perverted. The vessel which carries the image is corrupted. Jesus, fully Man and fully God, exercised His dominion over the earth and the animals of the earth and the fish of the sea.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28 ESV).

A miracle is an extraordinary action of God showing His control over the laws of nature. God developed and put the laws of nature in place. He suspends the laws of nature, for a moment, at His discretion, which to us is a miracle. It was not ordinary for the fish caught by Peter and his fellows to be where they were at that time in in that place. They were brought there by the will of God and His dominion over creation. Jesus, by exercising His control over nature for the benefit of those He wishes to bless, gives evidence that He is God in the flesh.

Peter did not know the depth or all of the implications of what occurred. He did know he was in the presence of a Man who just did something supernatural. Jesus was different. He was in the presence of holiness. His reaction was appropriate for the circumstance. Aware of his sinfulness, Peter wanted only for Jesus to go away. People, Peter included, are too comfortable with their sin. They want to sin and ignore the consequences. Jesus does not allow any to ignore sin. Having assuaged his guilt with ignorance, Peter is confronted with the living God and can no longer ignore either his sin or guilt.

But, Peter really didn’t want Jesus to leave. Every person, including Peter, faces a dichotomy when they suddenly realize they are in the presence of Christ. Peter fell before Jesus and declared his own sinfulness. “But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord’” (Luke 5:8 ESV). The visual implication of the passage is Peter is on his knees before Jesus, holding on to Him in worship, afraid for his life, asking Him to leave while giving himself to the Man.

In Scripture there are many examples of people who became fully aware of being in God’s presence. When Isaiah suddenly found himself in God’s presence his reaction, like Peter, was a declaration of his sinfulness. “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5 ESV). Ezekiel, when he realized he was in God presence, fell on his face so he would not have to look at God. “Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking” (Ezekiel 1:28 ESV). John, Peter’s fishing partner, at the end of his life, saw Jesus and fell at His feet as though dead. “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead” (Revelation 1:17 ESV). Peter reacted to Jesus like He was God.

Before a person can repent they must acknowledge the truth of sin in themselves and in the world in which they live. Then they must accept their guilt before a righteous God. Peter declared himself sinful, which means wicked, stained with specific crimes and personal vices. Peter declared he was devoted to sin and not worthy to be in God’s presence. He knew he could not stand before God because of his rebellious nature. Like Job, who found himself speaking to God, he despised himself. “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6 ESV).

All in the group were astonished at what occurred. All heard Jesus’ words. All followed His command. “For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon” (Luke 5:9-10 ESV). Only Peter fell at Jesus’ knees, worshipping Him. Only Peter declared himself sinful and wanted Jesus to leave, afraid for his life. The others were astonished at their catch, but only Peter acted appropriately awestruck, like Isaiah and Ezekiel, and finally John toward the end of his life.

Peter’s individual reaction to Jesus’ dominion over nature is only the first of many. He becomes a leader of the disciples because of his actions and reaction toward Jesus.