Tag Archives: Peter

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.

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Peter, A Fisherman

Studies in First Peter

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

Luke 5:1-11 (see also Matt. 4:12-22; Mark 1:14-20; John 1:35-42)

What does a person think and feel when they suddenly realize they are in God’s presence?  Peter, who probably knew Jesus as an acquaintance, found himself in the presence of someone who challenged his worldview and how he thought and felt about himself.

There was something about Jesus that attracted people to Him. They came at all times of the day and from great distances.  Jesus began His ministry in Galilee, near the Sea of Galilee, also called Gennesaret. Early one morning He was walking near the lake followed by a crowd of people. They were pressing about and into Him. Seeing an opportunity, He boarded a boat owned by Peter and asked him to put some water between Himself and the crowd.

On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. (Luke 5:1-3 ESV)

This story is unique to the Gospel of Luke. We are not told what Jesus taught. His standard message was about sin and repentance, faith and obedience. His message was the gospel. However, the parallel passages in the other Gospels give an indication of the content of his messages during the early part of his ministry.  From the other Gospel accounts there are two points Jesus stressed during his messages, the nearness of the Kingdom of Heaven or of God and the need to repent, a fundamental action to enter the kingdom.

Once He finished speaking to the people, He turned to Peter and told him to go fishing. Peter was a fisherman. Jesus was a carpenter and Peter probably knew it. In his mind, Peter may have thought Jesus knew nothing about fishing. The best time to fish is night time. Peter had been up all night fishing. He was tired, cleaning his nets so he could go home and eat and sleep. Yet, here was Jesus telling Peter how to do his job. “And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch’” (Luke 5:4 ESV). My imagination suggests Peter felt angry, perturbed that a man, who knew nothing about fishing was telling him what to do.

He had worked all night. His was not a paid position. If he didn’t catch fish, he didn’t get paid. His livelihood, and the lives of his family, rested on his working and catching fish. He needed to catch fish. He knew how to catch fish, the best spots, the best times and the best circumstances. He answered Jesus truthfully. “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing!” (Luke 5:5 ESV). The word toiled means to grow weary with effort, and to be burdened with grief, exhausted. Peter, and his fellow workers were drained of energy. They were cleaning and fixing their nets so they could repeat the process the next night. They were beyond tired. Yet, Peter acquiesced to Jesus command.

Jesus did not ask Peter to put out and fish. He commanded Peter put out into deep water and fish. God never asks us to do something. He commands with the expectation we will obey. Peter reluctantly obeyed. “But at your word I will let down the nets” (Luke 5:5 ESV). They rowed out into deep water and let down the nets they had just cleaned. In broad daylight, knowing they would not catch any fish.

They caught fish. Suddenly, in a place where there should have been no fish, there were fish just waiting to be caught. They caught so many fish their nets started breaking and they called for help.

And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. (Luke 5:7 ESV).

Jesus knew they would catch fish. Perhaps they heard part of what He said while He taught the people. Their anger and frustration turned into action. There were three or four families and a village of people relying upon their work which had, up to that point, produced nothing. Now, families would have their needs filled and people could buy or barter for fish to eat. Jesus had done something no one expected. Apparently, He knew about fish, too.

Peter, an Apostle

Studies in First Peter

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

Jesus is a real person and real people encountered Him. The full humanity of those who live in far-away places or long-ago times is often lost on those currently living. Most people are so involved in their lives they do not think or visualize that the names they read in Scripture are attached to a person who lived and breathed, who ate and slept, who felt emotions like love and happiness. Real people saw Jesus and walked with Him, ate with Him, listened to Him. They were His friends and enemies. They watched Him work and heal. They heard Him teach, rebuke and lead. Many either loved Him deeply or hated Him passionately. Many went about their business, seemingly unaffected by His presence. Yet, everyone was and has been affected by Him.

Jesus taught pointed lessons, through word and action, building into the lives of those who are His, qualities and characteristics God’s children throughout history could see and emulate.  Jesus confronted people who fought against him, those who rejected and finally murdered Him.

Peter, one of the apostles, and the author of two epistles in the New Testament, was taught and disciplined by Jesus. Trials and testing are the most effective means God uses to build into Christians the character of the citizen of His kingdom. Peter had a wild and aggressive personality God tamed before his death. He was impulsive, jumping into circumstances without understanding the consequences of his actions. God changed Peter, building discipline and Godliness into his life.  The words in his epistles come from the indwelling of the Spirit and personal experience with the Son of God.

What do we know about Peter? We know he was married. Before Peter was called by Jesus and began following Him, He healed Peter’s mother-in-law (see Matthew 8:14; Mark 1:29-30; Luke 4:38).His wife was with him during his ministry years after Jesus’ ascension (1 Corinthians 9:5). We know he was a fisherman who worked the Sea of Galilee and partnered with his brother Andrew, and James and John Zebedee, who also would become apostles (see Matthew 4:18; Luke 5:1-7; John 21:3). He was called by various names including Simon Barjona and Cephas (see Matthew 16:16-19; Mark 3:16; John 1:42, 1 Corinthians 9:5

Peter was a disciple of Jesus, someone who followed Him and learned from Him. He became and apostle, chosen by Jesus after a night of prayer.  Apostle means delegate, messenger, one chosen and sent out with a specific message. Many people followed Christ during His earthly ministry. Jesus chose twelve men to receive specific instruction and direction in preaching the gospel.

In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles: Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. (Luke 6:12-16 ESV; see also Matthew 10:2; 16:18-19; Mark 3:16; Acts 1:13.)

As a disciple and apostle of Christ he Peter was commissioned to take the gospel to his own people, the Jews, while Paul carried the gospel to the Gentiles (Galatians 2:8). During Peter’s ministry, after Jesus’, ascension, he faced hostility and persecution by the Jews and those opposed to the message of Jesus. He was imprisoned and beaten after his encounter with the same high priest who had Jesus murdered (see Acts 5:17-42). He had a vision which disrupted the traditional Jewish understanding of clean and unclean, learning that God had also chosen the Gentiles for citizenship in His kingdom (see Acts 10:1-48). Again, he was imprisoned and scheduled for execution by Herod, who had already killed James, the brother of John (see Acts 12:1-19). But, he was miraculously released from prison by an angel without the knowledge of any of the guards.

He was martyred, probably with Paul, in Rome during the time of Nero. There is no Biblical evidence showing the deaths of either man. Extrabiblical evidence, specifically Origen, suggests Peter was crucified upside down at his own request because he felt himself unworthy of dying like Jesus.

The Gospel of Mark, though written by John Mark, who was not an eye witness of the life of Christ, used Peter as his source of information. As a man who followed, helped and even interpreted for Peter, an eye-witness of Jesus and one of the inner circle of disciples, Mark’s gospel carries both the integrity of an eyewitness and the teachings of one of Jesus’ Apostles. In addition, Peter penned two epistles, entitled First and Second Peter. As an eye witness Peter is an important and critical observer of the teachings of Christ for those who are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven.

The LORD’s Anointed

Meditations on the Psalms

against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, (Psalm 2:1-2 ESV)

It is against God the people of the earth rage and rebel. YHWH, the proper name for God, is used. His Anointed is Messiah. The progression of their hatred begins with God, who is untouchable, moves to the person of Jesus Christ, who experienced the full wrath of the people, was murdered and was raised from the dead, and is finally directed against Christians, who are the representatives of God the world can touch. It should not surprise Christians who experience suffering for righteousness’ sake.

Jesus tells us that following Him will bring suffering for righteousness’ sake, just because we follow Him. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus ends His description of the citizen of the kingdom of heaven with the reality of the hatred of the world. Those who are and carry the characteristics of the citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven will be hated and persecuted by the world.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12 ESV)

After Jesus chose His twelve disciples, He prepared them and then sent them out to preach repentance for kingdom of heaven is at hand. His instructions are detailed. They were to allow nothing to keep them from teaching and preaching His words.

Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. (Matthew 10:17-25 ESV)

It is not against the Christian, who is feeling the brunt of the persecution, the world rages. It is against God and His Messiah, Jesus Christ. Christians identify with Christ and since the world cannot murder Christ again it does the next best thing by persecuting and murdering those who represent Christ.

Why would anyone want to invite persecution? Those who are servants of God know God intimately. They have recognized their sin and rebellion against Him and realized the consequences of their corrupt nature. They have relinquished control of their lives to Him who gives life and begin pursuing Him through the direction of the Holy Spirit. They become wholly His, abandoning themselves and whatever they might have in this world for eternal life. Drawn toward God they cannot imagine returning to the futile and sinful thinking of the heart of those in the world.

When people rebel, it is against God and His Son. When any come to Him it is at the direction and command of God and His Son. Our action toward those who persecute the Christian, ourselves included, is to love them, showing them the light of God through our lives lived in righteousness. We are the salt and light of the world (see Matthew 5: 14-16). Our lives are meant to draw people toward God, not drive them away.

Peter, who fully experienced the persecution of the world, tells us “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12 ESV). It is toward God, the object of the wrath of the world, that our lives direct the world, so the world might “glorify God on the day of visitation.”

Why Do the Nations Rage?

Meditations on the Psalms

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, (Psalm 2:1-2 ESV)

All peoples and nations fight against God. God asks Why? For what reason are the nations doing this? How did they come to the place where such thinking of their hearts is justified? What has God done to illicit a violent and consuming belief followed by insidious action? Why?

Nations refers to a large group of people or locusts or other animals and refers to all countries. Some translations use the word heathen instead of nations. People refers to the individuals of each nation. Rage means to scheme a tumultuous mutiny and plot in vain means to moan or mutter, to devise and imagine idle and empty thoughts. Thus, large groups of people, whole communities and societies, collectively believe and promote wrong thinking and violence against God.

God penetrates to the heart of the mutiny by identifying those who instigated such thinking. It is the leaders and teachers training the people. The kings of the earth set themselves means the kings of the entire planet who have planted their feet firmly, stationing themselves to take a stand. The rulers take counsel together means those who carry the weight and burden of leading the people daily have laid a foundation and seated themselves close together to consult and decide the actions of the entire group. Thus, the national leaders have listened to their counselors who have all agreed their position and place before God is unacceptable.

What king would allow his subjects to rebel in such a fashion? What ruler would discover and allow a conspiracy to develop in their presence? Do they not know before whom they are speaking and thinking and conspiring? No king would allow this to happen. Kings would squash the conspiracy and put the conspirators to death, or at least replace them with those who are loyal and support him and his authority. Why do any think God will allow rebellion against Him?

Peter and John, after the ascension of Jesus, found themselves before the people of Jerusalem declaring the resurrection of Jesus. Several times they were confronted by the same religious leaders who had condemned Jesus. As they entered the Temple they encountered a lame man begging for money. Instead of giving him money they healed him in the name of Jesus in front of crowds of people.

And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. (Acts 3:7-10 ESV)

After this miracle and while Peter and John were teaching, the religious leaders sent guards to arrest them and bring them before the same High Priest who arrested and executed Jesus, using the Romans as executioners. Peter spoke to the assembled counsel of religious leaders about their complicity in arresting Jesus and His death, but also about His resurrection. Also, before them, stood the man healed of his lameness. They threatened Peter and John, telling them to no longer teach Jesus and released them.

When relating their experience to the rest of the disciples they prayed and quoted from Psalm 2:

“Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,

“‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’—

for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” (Acts 4:24-28 ESV)

All leaders of all nations are fighting against the eternal God and against His Son, Jesus Christ.

Even to Death

Peter, the boldest, most opinionated, outspoken of the disciples, was one of the “inner three.” He walked on water and witnessed Christ’s metamorphosis on the Mount of Transfiguration. He bore Christ’s rebukes after each of his arrogant, unthinking statements. At the end of his life He died for Christ.

On the night before Passover, the passion of Christ, Jesus continues preparing His disciples for His death. He tells them what will happen, what they are to do and to wait for. Peter hears only some of His words and allows his arrogance to rise. He declares he is ready to stand with Christ through anything and everything, even facing death.

Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”

Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.”

Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” [Matthew 26:31-34 ESV]

Jesus rebuked Peter often. I have often wondered how Peter felt after each rebuke, every time Jesus challenged his intent, the thinking of his heart. I can only imagine hurt and since Peter is like most men, his pain turned into stubbornness, a form of anger. Did he say to himself “I will not fall away!” dejectedly and dutifully following his Master into a garden like he had done so many times before. This night would be different. This night they would have unwelcomed company. This night would begin a day of terror and suffering for Jesus.

Mark adds to the story.

But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same. [Mark 14:31 ESV]

It is not until we read Luke’s account we discover a hidden element to Peter’s heartfelt declaration.

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]

Like Job, and how many other unknown followers of God, Satan squeaked into God’s presence, tolerated by a Holy and Just and Good and True God, and threw down a challenge. Satan cannot be everywhere since he is not God. He can direct those who are his, who speak and act in his name, to tempt and lie to those whose sin will grieve God deeply. God is not afraid of grief and agony and suffering. He decided from eternity past to embrace the agony of the cross as a sacrifice of love for those with whom He will have an intimate relationship. God uses Satan to test the obedience of those He loves so they will fail and relinquish control to Him and live. Yes, He expects us to fail. Only in our failure will we accomplish His will His way. He must be the One who works in us. It is the suffering of our failures which brings us the joy of God presence.

Peter belongs to God.  Satan cannot have him.

John shows us what Peter’s devotion will cost him. Peter, like his fellows, will face unmerciful emotional suffering which will last until they see with their eyes the resurrected Jesus. Christ’s suffering is finished and ours is begun. Do not think for a moment our suffering is not experienced by God. We are hidden in Him, identified with His Son and filled with His Spirit.

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?”

Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.”

Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”

Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.” [John 13:36-38 ESV]

Jesus knows intimately the heart of His disciple. Peter truly wants to be with his Master. Jesus truly wants Peter with Him.  For this to happen, and it will happen, both must suffer the agony of the cross, one on the cross and one watching. Jesus must endure its physical trauma. Peter must endure its spiritual consequences. He must mourn deeply over the entire consequences of his sin bourn by his Master in his stead.

Do I want to be with God, where He is, to please Him, to love Him? This is hard. My gift will only please Him after I suffer with His Son. This is not something I am willing to face. But, God loves me and will bring me through what He has determined for me. I will never for eternity be out of His presence. Even when enduring the deepest, harshest suffering.

Peter and Stephen

Those who have the pure salt of righteousness and shine God’s truth through their persons in a world darkened by sin will naturally face persecution. Creatures of darkness cannot abide the light for they fear exposure and run away from anything touched by light. But the light of truth cannot be hidden any more than it can be extinguished, especially when the source of light is God Himself, who is truth. Nor will the salt of righteousness lose its saltiness from those abandoned to God simply because of the hatred of the world.

Stephen was a Grecian Jew probably born outside of Judea or Galilee. He was one of the Diaspora, in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover or Pentecost and staying when he heard either Jesus teach or one of the Apostles, Peter maybe, or John. This is all speculation. We know little about Stephen other than his name, that he was chosen with six others to help serve the growing church, and that he was a godly man filled with the Holy Spirit. We also know he had a good grasp of Israel’s history and was unafraid of the Jewish leadership. We know he was persecuted and murdered because of his stance for Jesus and the gospel. We know he was falsely accused and offered a defense using his accusers own history. His story is in Acts 7.

Israel’s history condemns them for it is their history which God used to point to His Son. Using normal sinful thinking these Jews pluck out the good things from their history ignoring the sinful behavior of their ancestors. Jesus, Peter, and Stephen would not allow them this luxury. They, just like their fathers, were prone to idolatry.

Peter, an untrained teacher, also used Israel’s history to point to Jesus, His death and resurrection. None of those who confronted Peter could disprove his words. They could not produce Jesus’ body. Nor could they stand against Peter’s words before the people. Many entered God’s kingdom because of Peter’s words and miracles.

Steven did the same thing. “Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you’” [Acts 7:2-3, ESV].

Peter used the words of Moses to prick the consciences of his hearers, words they knew well.

Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you.  And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness. [Acts 3:22 ESV]

Stephen used the same illustration from Scripture. “This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.’ This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us” [Acts 7:37-38, ESV].

Peter brought his teaching to the place where he accused the Jews of killing God’s Righteous One. Stephen did the same. Peter saw thousands come to God through the gospel and felt the lashes of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing in his sharing in the suffering of Christ. Some came into the kingdom from Stephen’s teaching while he lived. He felt the stones of their hatred toward God while asking God to forgive them. How many has God made righteous through the light of Stephen?  We do not know. It does not matter to us. What matters is we, too, are willing to shine light in a world dedicated to darkness and hatred for God.

Those who hate God think they can extinguish a person’ s light and nullify their righteousness through persecution and intimidation or by killing them. Jesus was raised from the dead. The hatred of the world is evidence of the citizen of the kingdom of heaven’s righteous standing before God.

But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” [Acts 4:19-20, ESV]